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Noise and Sounds: An Artform

Throughout the years, Cebu has been a place of continuous experimentation and innovation.

Most people quickly dismiss unpleasant sounds and label anything they don’t usually hear as noise, but for some people, different kinds of sounds combined to produce a distinctive form of music can be considered as an artform. This kind of genre in music is very unusual; it’s not something you commonly hear, but it is an expressive use of sounds in an unconventional way that challenges the distinction of what is musical and non-musical sound.

Here, I ask some artists from the recent Meltdown 3.0 event about their perspective on how noise and sounds are an artform and how they create their own sounds.

John Caing & Sam Pipebomb, photo by Pj Ong

What made you decide to create this kind of music?

Lush Death: My discovery of Japanese harsh noise immerse me to something until now I couldn’t explain well. My fascination with artist like Masonna, Hanatarash, Incapacitants, C.C.C.C. and Hijokaidan excites me and later on I decided to do Noise.”

Lush Death is noise killer artist from Binangonan, Rizal. He takes inspiration from almost everything around him. From his feelings, new experiences, films, arts, people and music. He started doing noise since 2008 with his first noise project called thera barra.

PGR, photo by Lush Death

Another Artist, PGR also known as Paolo, an Italian guy who grew up musically in Norway and graduated at Milan’s jazz music academy in bass guitar said, I think it has not been a decision so far. More urgence. I needed something I didn’t know. I found it in those chaotic sounds.”

His inspiration in making Noise Music was triggered when he had to get a way to escape and find a comfortable shelter from the madness and the uselessness of what humans generate, since 2012 he continued creating this kind of music.

John Caing, photo by Lush Death

Two artists that hail from Cebu, John Caing & Sampipebomb, are known pioneers of Noise Rock—their band Bombo Pluto Ova. When asked why they decided to create this kind of music John said, “Same as everybody else, ganahan mag enjoy sa life while they can, this kind of music it is nothing new, for me this kind of music is rock n roll, just wanna have fun and enjoy.  to keep the blood thin.” He was inspired by his family and continues to play in the band since 1997.

“I think the reason was I just keep on exploring new music and experimenting sounds. keeping my open mind to the possibilities.” Future Teenager is a solo experimental project by Karl Lucente which explore and creates music from ambient to noise. Being a fan of Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Bon Iver, he develop his inspiration from the different level of frequencies such musics are producing but still you can totally grasp it. He started doing this since 2015 when his friends made a show called Abrupt Shift.

Chris Murillo, credits to Lush Death

How would you describe your music and how is it different from other genres?

Rock n roll, sound art, I dunno. Call it anything you want, ganahan ra dyud ko mo tukar and have fun while mo tukar. I think pareha raman siguro sa uban naa passion tapos even wala naka time motukar pangitaan gihapon nmu paagi kay kibaw ka inig at the end of the day fullfiling siya para nmu, padayon gihapon ka kay malingaw man dyud ka.” -John Caing

“Noise worship” “It’s everything they try to avoid on a radio type of music.

“Feedback, static, glitches, unwanted frequencies and a lot of mistakes.” -Lush Death

“Medicine for life boredom. Honest. it’s just different, as luckily anything else is.” -PGR

“As of now, I’m not sure, Future Teenager is still rarely new. Just a different take on appreciating music.” -Karl Lucente

Lush Death

How does this kind of genre become art? Or how is this genre an art form?

“Well yes, it is art and there is a lot of discussions about this. But it doesn’t matter to me, if people recognized this or not as an art form or music. As long as I feel something in doing it and people who watched me perform live or listen to my record get some kind of a trip or experienced something, well that is more important to me. I tried not to over analyzed everything, art/music whatever they call it.” -Lush Death

“Music is Art!” -Karl Lucente

“Self expression, it takes time and patience para ma sharpen ug mugawas natural sa imuha ang gusto nmu buhaton, i think mao sad na ang art, padayun lang dyud permi until kung wala na gana mo tukar di mo undang na.” -John Caing

“I am not aiming to art and i don’t consider myself an artist. thus i cannot answer to this. Someone would say it’s art, but for me it’s just pleasing sound. something i like to listen to.” -PGR

 

PGR, Photo by Lush Death

What is your goal or vision when you create music?

“For me,doing noise is like a therapy. It helps me to cope with my anxiety and ruthless routine.” -Lush Death

Inig tukar nako mag imagine raman ko, tapos ako e transort sa guitara after that imuha na i-let go ang outcome.” -John Caing

“As of now, I’m not sure about it but what in my mind while playing was i just wanted to share what’s on my mind” -Karl Lucente

“I like the fact that anyone can get to his/her own conclusion. the listening it’s open to any response. my goal is to have no goal.” -PGR

What is your creative process when making your music and what are the gadgets you use to create sound?

“For recording and live set, its almost the same set of gears. For recordings, I always have a title in mind first, before I record a track. Almost all of my recordings are raw and unedited. Usually its from various things I experience from day to day basis. I love the appeal of one take recordings. For live performance, its on the spot. I just make sure before the show that my gear is working perfectly. I use a contact microphone and feed it to a series of effects pedal. It’s pretty much simple, I try to fit everything. I need into a portable suitcase.” -Lush Death

Lush Death also uses a contact microphone while playing in his gig in Cebu. It amplifies vibrations and impact and send the signal to any inputs. Which is amazing when your an audience watching the set, trying to listen to the sound produced by every hand gestures.

“The process is totally improvised. on the other hand i know my set up quite well, so i know how to get this or that sound.  The set up is very simple. Contact microphones or microphones run into distortion and equaliser pedal. I like to use radio as sound source too.” -PGR

PGR, photo by Lush Death

PGR’s set the energetic one, he moved a lot and even stood up in the table while performing which resembels the energy of the sounds he produces. He also used an old mic from an hifi. Which he puts in his mouth to produces  breathing sounds, screams and other sounds to change the feedback frequencies.

“Both, there are times on the spot and sometimes i prepare before a gig. I loop, oscillate and reverb! I just combine it. Something holistic yet destructive kind of sound.” -Karl Lucente

Future Teenager, photo by Pj Ong

Improvised tanan. Since bombo pluto ova nag start improvisation dyud na. During sa Melt gig wala dyud ko gadget kay ganahan ko raw siya. mas raw siya mas doul sa akong kasing kasing, mas nindot e manipulate ang noise together with rhythm and chords. sa ako lang simplicity sa set up, simple ug concept mas lingaw kaayu ug dali makabuhat sa imuhang imagination tapos imuha e transform sa music gamit imuha guitara, then let go. mao rana.” -John Caing

Throughout the years, Cebu has been a place of continuous experimentation and innovation. The music scene opens up new and exciting music while the crowd and the community always support each other.

“The crowd in Cebu seemed to be curious for something which maybe doesn’t happen so often in town. I am glad many people showed up. I am confident the other performers and me managed to plant some seeds in the adventors’ ears.” -PGR

“It always feels good playing in front of other people. It doesn’t matter where and to whom i am performing, as long as they are willing to be blessed with static,then we have a deal.” -Lush Death

Trying to grasp all kind sounds I heard that night I felt like my ears were overwhealmened but I am simply amazed on how creative we can be with different kinds of medium to produce art. All the artist produced very distictive music that I personally enjoy. When you listen carefully you can distiguish each sound produce by every movement, every click and every material that is being moved. That’s what made it fun actually listening to it. Just ignore what you’ve learn about how music has to be. Enjoy and feel it. Music is an artfrom, It needs to be felt, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

 

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Here Are the Highlights of Fete de la Musique 2019

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Culture

The Return of the Best-Tasting Lechon in Cebu, Rico’s Lechon

Cebuanos, rejoice! Rico’s Lechon makes a comeback in the city.

Several minutes to 11:00 on a cloudy Friday morning, a man clad in a pineapple print polo shirt stood in a tight circle of eager faces. His neutral-colored top contrasted with the boldness of their red uniforms. The man wore a serious look occasionally interrupted by a smile as he addressed his small crowd. He meant business. His hand gestures displayed a purposefulness that did not cause distraction but drew attention. The team huddle ended on a positive note as everyone placed their hands atop each other’s in the middle of the circle and recited their chant for the day, smiling all the while. The man’s smile was among the brightest, and it stayed that way for as long as he was in the room, welcoming people—young and old, foreign and local—to a restaurant that came back to serve the best tasting lechon in the city.

The man was Mr. George Pua, president of Meat Concepts Corporation and new owner of Rico’s Lechon. And the restaurant was the biggest one in the chain, which started officially serving the public on June 28, 2019. George had his hands full even before the restaurant opened, but he seemed to have drunk from the well of never-ending energy and enthusiasm as he tirelessly talked with and offered friends and guests a smile. My colleague and I were two of its many recipients. In an exclusive interview in one of the restaurant’s function rooms on the second floor, I learned that George’s enthusiasm went beyond the successful opening of another business. He was happy to not only be eating Cebu’s best lechon but also sharing it with his fellow and potential “lechon fanatics.”

L-R: Assistant to the President Meat Concepts Corporation Mari-Jo T. Barles, Vice President Meat Concepts Corporation Jay R. Lazaro, President of Meat Concepts Corporation George N. Pua, Sales and Marketing Manager Cebu, Rico’s Lechon Michael “Pops” S. Bacatan

A Long-Time Love for Lechon

“Lechon fanatic,” was what George called himself when he told us how his young self fell in love with the dish. “I lived in Baclaran, and every time I opened my window, it’s all lechon. It’s all lechon being paraded. Every time I opened my window I would see lechon and I would ask the maid to buy me ¼ kilo. Every time I opened my window.” The repetition in his response left no room for doubt; he was—is—indeed a real lechon fan.

Rico’s Lechon comes in orignal and spicy variants.

It was this love that brought him on a 5-day trip in the Queen City of the South six years ago, eating nothing else for lunch and dinner but lechon. He was on a mission: to taste the best lechon. He tried all brands he could get his hands on, even when it meant going as far as Talisay and Carcar. One store in the former, which was his host friend’s favorite, secured the second spot in George’s brief list of best lechon brands. Rico’s Lechon came first.

George’s list was no surprise. I’m not the biggest lechon fan—I don’t crave it when I’m overseas—but I appreciate a great dish when I taste one, Rico’s Lechon included. I liked how tender and flavorful the meat was that I didn’t even have to dip it in sauce. The skin was not fatty and had just the right crispness, which saved me from feeling jaw pain because of excessive chewing. There was an added sense of gastronomic satisfaction from seeing how the lechon was chopped before it arrived at our table. I might have eaten more than what I intended to.

A Determined Man

George liked the tenderness of the lechon he tasted in Talisay, but the brand only offered the original variant whereas Rico’s Lechon offered both original and spicy. “If you are a good businessman, or if you have a business acumen, you would want the original and the spicy,” he said.

He soon met Enrico “Rico” Dionson, founder of Rico’s Lechon. At that time, George only wanted to know the man who perfected the recipe to the best tasting lechon; he had no intentions of buying or franchising the brand. But he did ask him of potential plans to open a store in Manila, to which the latter responded with a firm no. Since then, George made it a point to eat at Rico’s Lechon and chat with Rico every time he visited Cebu. The question of opening a branch in Manila would sometimes come up in these conversations. The third time it did, George took a different approach and asked whether he could instead franchise the brand. Rico was steadfast in his initial response.

Things started to take shape when a common friend reintroduced George to Rico in 2015. This connection solidified the former’s love for lechon to the latter, who finally saw George as more than just a businessman eyeing a new venture. And in 2017, amid a busy night of setting up one of his restaurants and preparing for a flight to Japan the next day, George received an unexpected call from Rico. The call caught him off guard that he momentarily forgot who Rico Dionson was. “I should know him because he’s in my phonebook,” he said with a laugh. He picked up the call, and it was then that thoughts of eating Cebu’s best tasting lechon in Manila became reality—Rico offered to sell the entire brand. George had no hesitation in saying yes.

Before the official contract signing in February 2018, George’s Feng Shui master came to Manila to “read” him for the next year. George, who then wanted to know his compatibility with Rico as a business partner, asked his ninong to also do a quick reading of Rico. Rico consented. Then the reading happened. “You have a good heart, but you talk too much,” George quoted.

Nevertheless, the Feng Shui master gave them his blessings and they soon signed a contract. By May of the same year, Meat Concepts Corp. took over the entire operations. In August, they opened their first Manila store in Bonifacio Global City; in September, Glorietta 1; October, Tiendesitas; November, UP Town Center; and in February 2019, SM Mall of Asia. It was a productive year for George.

“Old Cebu with a Twist”

The success of the great RICOmeback seemed to suggest that this year will be as busy, if not more, as the last. The brand’s flagship outlet can accommodate 300 people and has four function rooms, whose names refer to the places where Rico’s Lechon used to stand. “We wanted to be reminded of our roots,” George explained.

George chose the location because it fits his criteria—not in Cebu City but near it. His friends’ opinion, that the area is a new segment of progress in Mandaue, made decision making easier for him.

The dining area of Rico’s Lechon Mandaue boasts Sinulog colors

He was also very much involved in the conceptualization of the restaurant’s interior design. He wanted to showcase the “Old Cebu with a Twist,” so he incorporated elements of Sinulog into the restaurant. Instead of hanging buntings like people do during fiestas, which can look messy inside a confined space, George asked his Cebuano chair manufacturer to paint the backrests of chairs in bright yellow, green, apple blue, and red. “So, when you lay out the seating arrangement, you all see the different colors. It’s like a bunting,” he said.

Other Cebuano-made items included tables and hanging lamps. What I found most interesting about the restaurant’s interior, however, was the lechon plate chandelier. George revealed that it was the last fixture added and its creation materialized mostly out of a desire to avoid wasting resource. George ordered these plates with the intent of using them for what they really were, but the vendor shipped them to him in the wrong size. Instead of complaining about what went wrong, George focused on the positive and asked his manufacturer to make a chandelier using his oversized lechon plates.

A Foodie’s Menu

Rico’s Lechon’s expansion is evident not only in the restaurant’s space but also in its menu. Other than their renowned lechon, they now serve more Filipino favorites like Special Boneless Bangus, Sizzling Lechon Sisig, Monggos, and Bicol Express. New additions to the list include Grilled Pork Belly, Sinigang na Baka at Baboy, Sisig Fried Rice, and Buttered Mixed Seafoods.

The new management may have tweaked the menu, but George promised that they did not and will never change the original lechon recipe. “There’s no ego here. I always say [that] it’s not who runs it or who owns it. It’s just the way that you present it to be the best and only the best, and make people smile and happy. That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter who owns it anymore,” he explained.

As a foodie, George understands the feeling of going to one’s favorite restaurant and finding out—a true foodie will, almost always immediately—that the management changed their recipe. He does not want his food to be “bastardized,” and he assured me that it will never happen in his restaurant.

George shared that he can be adventurous and instinctive when it comes to food. When he goes to a restaurant, he orders a lot and eats them all (food waste is a no-deal). He cited his recent solo travel to Spain as an example, where he ordered about 12 plates of Spanish food for lunch. All for himself. The look on his face as he was narrating this story told me that he still could not believe what he did. And on the 4th day, to change things a bit, he had lunch at KFC.

After sharing a good laugh, I decided to bring the interview to a close. I wished George sincere congratulations and expressed my anticipation for brighter days ahead. With his familiar smile, he thanked me then said: “I promise with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my power, [that] we will maintain the same taste of lechon.”

 

Visit Rico’s Lechon Mandaue at Unit F1 Jamestown, Mantawi International Drive, Mandaue City. They are open daily from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

 

 

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Culture

Art Curator Maris Holopainen Recommends Top 5 Young Cebuano Artists You Should Know About Now

Having worked with many artists through Qube Gallery and an avid art collector herself, Maris Holopainen has been advocating young and local talent.

Originally published in Zee Digital Vol. 1.
Photography by Kyla Estoya

Having worked with many artists through Qube Gallery and an avid art collector herself, Maris Holopainen has been advocating young and local talent. Besides representing Cebuano artists at shows around the world, the gallery is also a platform of sorts for creatives who are hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry. Maris shares five up-and-coming artists she believes will soon become buzzed about in the local art scene.

GI Pongasi, Painter

Describe your art.
Mixed media, non-figurative.

How did you break into the industry?
I joined different group exhibitions, and eventually had a chance to mount my own solo exhibit.

Plans for 2018?
After a successful one man show this January, I will continue to create a new series of work, and will be joining group exhibitions. Also, I’m planning to join major art competitions.

 

Borj Padron, Sculptor

Describe your art.
I am into metal. Even when I was doing my thesis, I was working with metal cables, and stuff like that. Now, I like working with stainless steel.

How did you get into art?
Even when I was a kid, I was into arts. My parents didn’t send me to art school; they made me take engineering. when I got to my senior year, I shifted from
engineering and pursued art.

Plans for 2018?
I want to do collaborations with my coartists. I also plan on studying more on metal and wood.

Almun Rey Logronio, Sculptor

Describe your art.
My art is about comedy. I wanted to avoid the problems, so I converted them into something happy. At least for a moment, I can relieve your stress through my artwork. I experimented with 3D
painting and other materials, and some challenging techniques. For materials, I use polymer resin. My subjects are usually normal people that you’d see everyday.

How did you get into art?
I studied painting in college, but when I went to Dubai, I saw and discovered that I could do sculptures. I practiced and experimented with the materials.

Plans for 2018?
I have plans on doing another exhibit, and continuing making comedy as a statement. I want everyone to be happy. I hope I can make better pieces, and that people will like it more. And I’m planning
to add painting to my sculptures soon.

Mark Belicario, Painter

Describe your art.
My art is realism with a bit of surreal, it has some imagination. My medium is oil on canvas.

How did you break into the industry?
I started painting in 2008, together with my co-artists. They have influenced me to do the same. I was inspired by their work. From there, I attended exhibits, competitions, that’s where it all started.

Plans for 2018?
To conduct more exhibitions here and abroad, and create another painting. Maybe try a different style of my art.

Francisca Ricablanca, Painter

Describe your art.
I describe my art as realism, because in realism I can express my feelings and appreciate the beauty of nature. I feel like I have been enlightened by the Lord, because of what I’ve seen and what I put
in my art.

How did you get into art?
I started painting when I was 16 years old, and encouraged by a co-artist to join a trip to Samboan. I had no idea
what we were going to do there, I thought it was just another trip. It turned out they were going to do paintings on the spot. One day, they gave me a small canvas, and I finished my painting right away. The next day, they gave me a bigger canvas, and I started painting the guava tree; they were surprised that I was so quiet. I was actually drawing each leaf individually. That’s when I started.

Plans for 2018?
I want to continue, and strive harder so that I can make artwork that’s even better than what I did last year. I want to continue my career as an artist.

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