Friday, 8 April 2011

0001 Business World, Far Out, Man, April 2011

By Sam H. Marcelo
Senior Reporter, Business World
07 April 2011

THERE IS a man talking in my ear, asking “is there anybody out there, is there anything alive?” He has an accent, this man, a slight British one, and over heavy guitars he answers his own question: “If there’s anything out there, it’s probably dead. Probably been dead forever.”

“Is There Anybody Out There, Is There Anything Alive” is the first cut in A Sudden Rush of Genius: The New Underground Poetry of Cesare A.X. Syjuco, a 15-track enhanced CD album and book set that’s been waiting six years for its release.

The hardbound book component, a finalist for Best Design in the recently concluded National Book Awards, might be thought of as liner notes on steroids. Its pages contain Mr. Syjuco’s “hybrid poetry,” written between 1981 and 2008, depicted in images and typefaces.

Take for example, the wavy text of “Commander James Calling Space Station,” a confession of love beamed into outer space against a sonic tapestry of beeps, barks, screams, and the occasional buzz of white noise and static: the letters floating on the black page resemble an out-of-tune transmission on an analog television set.

In the CD, Mr. Syjuco performs his poetry to tracks he wrote and performed with his son Augusto “A.G.” R. Syjuco, who also did the arrangements, programming, and additional instrumentation. The younger Syjuco put to good use the skills he first exhibited as the lead guitarist and composer of Faust!, a defunct art-rock band he formed with his siblings while he was in high school.

The material in A Sudden Rush of Genius was recorded in the Syjucos’ home studio over a period of two weeks in 2006. The project was mixed, mastered, shelved, and allowed to breathe for a few months.
“My dad is meticulous,” said A.G. Even the silence in between songs was labored over -- should it be a second? Two seconds? How about doing without the gaps all together?

The album was continuously tweaked as they went on a promotional tour, one that lasted several years. “It was a dream come true for me to work with my dad,” A.G. added. “He was an important person in the local rock scene and he was responsible for a lot of the bands that came out in the 1970s.” (It was Mr. Syjuco who, at the age of 21, conceptualized and organized the First National Battle of the Bands contest, which aired over DZRJ’s Pinoy Rock ‘n’ Rhythm radio show. Products include Florante, Heber Bartolome, Johnny Alegre, and Bob Aves.)

“He’s very particular about what he wants and how he wants something to sound,” continued A.G.
Mr. Syjuco, a guitar collector, had an opinion about everything. He knew when to use his 1960 Fender Stratocaster, and when to pull out the thicker, warmer sound of his Les Paul.

A Sudden Rush of Genius is a fusion of performance, visual arts, literature, and music. Hence the variety of guests that graced its launch: musical experimentalist Lirio Salvador was there, so was Palanca Hall of Famer Alfred “Krip” Yuson and artists Justin “Tiny” Nuyda, Agnes Arellano, and Augusto “Gus” Albor. A man dressed as Darth Vader also made an appearance.

The delicious weirdness of A Sudden Rush of Genius is hypnotic, and, at turns, surprising. The shimmering cynicism of “Murder x the Mannered Tongue” gives way to the pulsing rap-rock beat of “Do You,” which features a pitch-shifted version of Mr. Syjuco’s voice (similar to the low, electronic “kidnapper” voice used in movies).

Over 15 tracks, Mr. Syjuco screams, whispers, soothes, and disturbs.

In his notes, A.G. refers to the album as a miracle. “[A Sudden Rush of Genius] taps directly into an art god’s incredibly vast and varied intellect, at the very pinnacle of its capabilities and reach, allowing us quantum leaps into the great and uncharted unknown that is the Holy Grail of the arts.”

A Sudden Rush of Genius is available at Fully Booked for P800.

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