Breeder’s Digest: Zild, Oh Flamingo, Ely Buendia

Juan Luna’s Tampuhan

I was listening to Zild’s Homework Machine the other night, looking at the dark black sky on the window when an angel appeared to me. The angel, it looked horrifying. With multiple wings spinning like wheels, flaming swords and other indescribable things. Then, the angel spoke to me in Alan Rickman’s voice: Why is Zild only Zild and Unique just Unique? Isn’t it not apt that Zild plays bass even though he was named after the cymbals? And what about Unique, was he named after a toothpaste?

And then I woke up. And wrote the following draft, for Zild’s solo album. And since no one needs album reviews anymore since hardly anyone needs anyone’s opinion on music since they can instantly stream anything anytime on YouTube or Spotify without shelling out a hundred bucks, I still decided to write it anyway. Here it is:

Look closely at the lyrics. Sharp or witty, they’re not. Acerbic, yes, some of them. With some even revealing that this is most probably made in mom’s and pop’s basement. With their credit limit to spare. But you’ll get the general impression that they’re somehow general enough for everyone to parse, and somewhat vague enough for everyone to take a second look. But the ideas or images don’t pop out, no stories and characters that comes to life. Clearly this is not a work of a wordsmith as some may have claimed. Just a quick reference to any work by Buendia, Artadi, Blanco or even Chito Miranda and the whole thing falls apart. Musically, he’s craftier than his “Mundo” co-writer, who probably ran out of TP after one album that he had to fart around with a boring instrumental and an even more boring sound collage.

Was watching War Horse (2011) last night. Was so amazed the CGI horse looked, acted, and moved so real. Found out later that Spielberg had a real horse mo-capped for the role, which explains why.

You may have seen the ad. A Spotify curated playlist, This is Rivermaya, with Nathan, Mark and Mike Elgar on the pic. “That’s not Rivermaya,” one comment said. “But that’s the original bassist and drummer,” another answered. Whether it’s Rivermaya or not, you guys fight among yourselves, I don’t care. The question shouldn’t be why or if this current lineup still deserves the name. The question should be: why Rivermaya’s first four albums not on Spotify yet?

Iskalawags (2013) is well-shot, well-acted, love letter to the ’90s and local action movies. There’s only one problem: I thought the narration was redundant. It’s not really “show, don’t tell” because the movie has great visuals, it’s “show, but don’t show and tell at the same time”. There are a lot of times when the narration is simply describing what’s already shown on screen. As if the narrator was actually reading the short story the movie was based on. I have one more complaint: There’s just too much narration, not enough beewbs.

You can’t do better than those who came before by wearing their influence and say the same things that’s been said before—and better. If “Sitting and imagining sunsets” already speaks volumes then something like “There’s a place where the sun’s inside a cup of tea” speaks a whole shelf, maybe a mini library.

Here’s another draft, a longer alternative to what I wrote about Oh, Flamingo!’s second EP, Volumes (2020): Oh, they speak volumes! Clever, right? Fans wonder why they aren’t as big as Jesus Christ yet—I mean Jesus ‘Dizzy’ Ventura (Ventura, the infamous frontman of the now defunct now forgotten The Mongols, descendants of the Khublai Klan). Maybe if they overplay “Echoes/Psychedelic Sweater”. But two EPs five years apart and no full length album yet? A couple of non-album cuts (e.g., Parara) in between notwithstanding, that five-year gap already feels like a decade, in the age of hyperspeed internet that is (In reality though, hyperspeed isn’t felt by small subscribers like me, we are seemingly stuck in the Dial Up Age). Compared with their peers Unique and the IV of Spades, who have been trading singles, albums, acerbic words, barbs, and vitriol (heaven forbids, that the release of Zild’s Homework Machine won’t trigger Word War III), it looks like Oh Flam’s output has been as limited as their reach. That is, in this day and age, you’ve got to keep dropping singles in order to keep yourself afloat. And don’t give me that Quality vs. Quantity shit. Fans want their favorite band to get big? Wish them to write hits. “Naubos Na” sounds like one, albeit a minor one. So does “Psychedelic Sweater”, the best track on this EP. No, it’s their best song, period. Though with the image of a sweaty Luistro stuck in my head makes me regret to have read an article about the song’s backstory. I wish I could unread it. (Hint: It’s not about a sweater like the Weezer song; he’s the sweater. Kind of not clever really, if you think about it.) Outside of those two, “Sunsets” could be counted too, if not for its ugly-ass pre-chorus. Okay, it’s not really ugly-ass, but it kind of undoes all the good things in the song. Do the two versions of “Volumes” have any use other than take space? I’m sure any fan with an ear for sonic paintings would find use for them. And at least, it’s not as lazy-ass obvious as Unique Salonga’s album fillers. What was that again? A sound collage? Lols B+

After finally revealing the true meaning of “Spoliarium”, to the dismay of fanatical fans, budding conspiracy theorists, and wannabe UP professors, Ely Buendia made another bold move: releasing “Metro” amidst the extension of this purgatorial lockdown and the endless celebration of ABSCBN shutdown. A bold and calculated move, which he probably miscalculated. Maybe it’s just another Gloc9 case. I’m not really disappointed. C’mon, it’s just a fucking song, man. As if it could change anything, as if it would be any different if a different group of people were behind it.

Still, that’s some bad company, he got there. That I have to say. But taking the song just as it is, maybe it could change minds? Open a few eyes perhaps? In the same way that some people might finally accept the mundane truth behind the myth and not think about Pepsi Paloma the next time they listen to “Spoliarium” on Youtube or Spotify. Why was it named “Spoliarium” then? Because they were so fucking wasted that they were lying and being dragged on the floor like the dead gladiators depicted in the painting.


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