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At last, a riveting joyride with Markus Highway

June 15, 2008

MANILA, Philippines - Marcus Adoro’s silence has given him legendary status—at least as far as Eraserheads fans are concerned.

After the breakup, while other members of the band remained visible, lead guitarist Adoro disappeared. A few years ago, a cassette tape entitled “KamonKamon” became available only to the fan who knew where to find it.

Using low-tech facilities, recording with only a guitar, and speaking of his new-found love for surfing and Sagada, it was clear why Adoro had yet to come out with a mainstream solo album. “KamonKamon’s” unplugged, non-commercial, raw sound wasn’t easy to sell. Not that his new album, released by major-label Warner Music Philippines, is all that different. Curiously titled “Behold! Rejoice! Surfernando Is Here Nah!” and credited to his new identity with a newfound band, Markus Highway, Adoro’s music remains close to novelty.

But it’s really more folk rock, and maintains a rawness that’s riveting, given the full band that backs him up. With barely any press announcements, no TV appearances save for a video on MTV and Myx, and no major album launch, it seems like “Surfernando” (a name that also functions as an alter-ego) has silently crept up on all of us. But maybe the lack of hype about Adoro’s surfacing is precisely the point.

“Surfernando” gets into your head the way that only folk songs do—even as it straddles the novelty and rock genres. It’s a full album that could get you on LSS mode. (That’s Last Song Syndrome, or what young people today refer to a song that you can’t shake off your brains.)

Which says a lot about the creativity Adoro has poured into it. Thankfully, he’s no Lito Camo, whose type of novelty and folk mean repetition and mostly playtime lyrics, plus a dance routine to boot.

Instead, Adoro treats us to songs that sound easy to learn, but with lyrics that use the Pilipino language in a beautiful and engaging manner, even when the subjects seem superfluous. But in the songs about love and travel—two topics that seem to bind the whole album together—Adoro captures a kind of lyricism not found in contemporary Pinoy rock.

Listen to how he cautions a maiden in “Ingat”: “Ingat ingat ingat, binibining marikit/Sa mapaglarong pag-ibig/Ang pakpak niyang bigay sa ‘yo/Siya ring punyal sa puso mo...” Or how he recalls an old flame in “Weekend Warrior Blues”: “Pag naaalala’ng mga unang sandali /Ng ating pagkikita o aking sinta/Kay lakas ng hampas/Ng mga alon sa pagitan natin...”

The album’s opener, “Lala,” is an ode to songwriting: “Gumamit ng katagang simple at rekta sa laman/Kunin ang gitara’t kaskasin nang kaskasin/hanggang sa lumabas ang himig natin...”

Which is not to say that “Surfernando” is too serious for comfort. On the contrary, there’s so much fun embedded in the songs. Embracing the warmth and joy that folk songs bring, but of course with more bare-bones rock ‘n’ roll injected, this album is a treat for Pinoy music fans.

Letting go, letting be

It’s also amazing to discover it as a melodious statement to promote local tourism—how travel and joyrides allow letting go and letting be, going beyond comfort zones and walking the path—any path—that leads us to know more about ourselves and our land.

With songs that talk about the right time being now (“Chef-Ra’s Forest,” “Wow Kalabaw,” “Bonfire” and “Drive Thru”), “Surfernando” makes us want to get out, go somewhere, anywhere interesting in this country.

With no need to conform to the sound of typical Pinoy rock bands, and no pretensions about his capabilities as singer, alongside a talented hand at songwriting and guitar-playing, Markus Highway allows for Adoro’s silences to continue. Because we don’t need to see more of him on TV or radio, as much as he deserves to have his music—and his love for country—heard. That is what may ultimately keep Adoro, his alter egos, and the highways he has traversed, legend.

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True Faith’s ‘Dream Journal’

True Faith is out with a double-disc retrospective album, “Dream Journal (The Very Best of True Faith 1993-2007).

It contains the band’s greatest hits such as “Perfect,” “Huwag Na Lang Kaya,” “Alaala,” “Ambon,” “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw,” “Dahil Ikaw” and “(Awit Para) Sa Kanya.”

The band, currently working on a new album, is set to perform tonight, 7 p.m. at the Arena Clark Quay in Singapore.


Rico Blanco’s new single

Rico Blanco is back with new music.

The former Rivermaya frontman, who left his band and went on a hiatus for a year, has a single, “Yugto,” released exclusively by Warner Music Philippines on MP3 format and available for purchase as a digital download for mobile phones.

The single is part of Blanco’s debut solo album, set for a mid-July release.

Song about text messaging

The Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS) are also promoting a single, “Pahamak,” off the group’s self-titled debut album (Sony BMG).

Composed by Mr. C, the song weaves a story that involves text messaging and the young.

Catch RCS perform the single, along with other album tracks, on June 21, 4 p.m. at Robinsons Galleria.

10 songs for the environment
“Rapu-Rapu Atbp: Taghoy ng Kalikasan” is a CD featuring 10 songs written by young environmentalists and recorded by Aiza Seguerra, Bayang Barrios, Coffeebreak Island, Cooky Chua, Dap-ayan Ti Kultura Iti Kordilyera (DKK), Datu’s Tribe, Lady High, Lolita Carbon, Noel Cabangon and The Jerks.

Produced by CEC-Phils, an NGO promoting environmental advocacy, the album was the result of a songwriting workshop last year facilitated by singer-songwriter Rom Dongeto, formerly Cabangon’s band mate in Buklod. It was launched recently at ’70s Bistro.

Call 9248756 or 9209099.

Hammilan’s ‘Diskarte’

“Diskarte” is the new album by singer-songwriter Hammilan.

Formerly the frontman of the Bicol-based group Blah and whose debut solo CD “Halo-Halo” is now considered a cult classic, Hammilan wrote, arranged, produced and performed the 10 songs in “Diskarte” with help from members of his new backup band.

The album, which also features a remake of “Gandang Kupas” from the Blah album “Lasngag” and “Friend” from “Halo-Halo,” was launched with a live performance recently at Blue Onion in Eastwood City.

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