Rico Blanco – Galactik Fiestamatik (2012)

AlbumArt_GFAt the center of Galactik Fiestamatik, is someone sweating it out on the floor. All eyes on her – she doesn’t mind. The beat isn’t catchy, it’s hardly Macarena or whatever’s the latest fad. There’s something primeval about this, this ritual – Blanco seems to be saying. And so, the songs takes a more primitive form – like a proto-EDM, if there is such a thing. More than entertainment, art, or culture, dancing as a way to survive.

Rico Blanco takes elements from synth-pop, New Order, Bjork, David Bowie (esp. the way he promoted and toured for the album) and made them into a stripped down synth-rock record. It’s just keyboards, beats (no acoustic drums, bar a couple of tracks), and Blanco’s “dry” vocals. Still, this takes a lot from the Rico Blanco we knew since his days with Rivermaya: his songwriting, his knack for catchy choruses and memorable turn of phrase (e.g., Chismis – ang pambansang marijuana / Chismis – sumampalataya).

Though it opens with the seductively dark “Amats” (the video for which features #1 Crush Megan Young) and the digitized ways of breaking up and moving on “Burado,” Galactik Fiestamatik is hardly one would call “uneasy listening”. After two “difficult” numbers, Blanco makes it clear that, no, he’s not trying to make his own Kid A or The Lemon of Pink. But that is not to say the rest are all radio-friendly stuff. Hardly. Though I don’t know what’s considered radio-friendly nowadays, much less what’s keeping the radio DJ’s busy. I’d say Blanco has a handful here for the faithful. Songs one wouldn’t get from, say, AM, FM or internet radio.

In “Lipat Bahay,” easily the best cut off the album, Blanco catalogs an assortment of ephemera, relics and soon-to-be garbage found in his apartment. And he puts them in neat carton boxes of sing-along verses and basic chord patterns. There are pop culture relics (Star Wars bedsheet, “family computer” cartridges), semi-obscure stuff (Dominique Wilkins poster), and antiquities (typewriter, encyclopedia), some or most of them, alien to today’s kids.

While “Lipat Bahay” is full of “things” – tangible stuff that can be packed and sealed in a box – the song is really about the intangible things attached to them. The Circus CD signed by the Eraserheads isn’t just about the physical disc, but the band and their music as well, the memories he had with them. And while some of the stuff tells more about fandom (i.e., a Dominique Wilkins poster for the avid basketball fan, Return of the Jedi bedsheet for the Star Wars fan, the Circus CD, for the Eheads fan), “Lipat-Bahay” is really about memories, events, experiences he had in that apartment signified by those things sealed inside the box.

The time he lived in it, the tears he shed in the bedroom, the dust on the floor, his friends’ and family’s laughter that echoed through the walls, the way the light reflects on the ceiling on a quiet night – he’s gonna miss all of them. And he wants to bring them all. If only he could.

Hindi ko yata kayang iwanan ka.

Featured image from this website.

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