photo by Ian Castañares
Thanks in large part to Wesoid and Harry, I was able to get a few hours off to attend the much anticipated launch of Up Dharma Down‘s sophomore album Bipolar. The records comes almost three years after the release their ground breaking debut Fragmented that saw the band gain accolades from mainstream music junkies as well as the hard-to-please music critics. Staying true to the their established style of textured arrangements and use of electronic samples, Bipolar comes across a richer and more cohesive collection of songs that combines both the familiar and left-of-center elements. Although it’s hard to even conceive the idea that vast improvements could still be attained after Fragmented but the general vibe of Bipolar lends an even more satisfying and transcendent musical experience. You can literally hear elements of rock, metal, electronica, blues and the lesser known subgenres of trip hop and post rock infused in some of the tracks.
The Hexagon Lounge at RCBC Tower provided a very intimate atmosphere for fans to hear the songs off Bipolar for the first time. Ian and I came early (around 7:30 PM) so we were able to squeeze ourselves to a nice spot just in front of the stage. I also had the chance to finally meet legendary Pinoyexchange poster loc0 (Carlo) after almost a decade of participating in the Music and Radio threads. The event was originally slated to start at 8:00 PM so by the time the gates were closed at 9:00, the venue was already packed and dozens of people were left waiting outside. I’ve had a similar bad experience when I showed up late for a Wolfgang “reunion” (read: minus Wolf) gig at Peligro a few years back so I knew better than to not take such call times seriously.
photo by Ian Castañares
The band opened up with Blessed – incidentally the first song in Bipolar. The track totally set the theme for the night, it was aurally heavy without being too loud as well as being enjoyable enough at first listen but still showing immense intricacies in its structure. The song also reflects the bipolar psychiatric disorder in the sense that it features parts that easily translate to manic and depressive states.
Since people were listening to the songs for the first time, fans were somehow forced to experience the songs for what they really were as auditory experiences. By themselves, the songs truly conveyed emotions, movements and ideas without the help of words. The energy behind each song was more than enough to affect the listeners’ moods and feelings. To say that the experience is akin to being transported to an unknown musical plane is not much of a stretch. Up Dharma Down truly stands out as an innovative and yet curiously still marketable band in today’s stale music scene.
Despite the variation in approach, everything still comes together seamlessly as a collection. Through all the unusual time signatures, electronic blips and beats and soaring vocals, the theme stay clear – an almost rebelious but still masterfully disciplined foray into experimental forms of music. Fans who knew them as simply the band behind the hit “Oo” would be most definitely alienated by Bipolar. Up Dharma Down still has a couple of tracks with mainstream potential but don’t expect “Taya” and “Every First Second” to be dominating the airwaves anytime soon. Despite the genius behind the songwriting, recording and post-processing, you just know that this type of material is destined to be a treasure to be kept by the fans of the niche as opposed to be something for the average radio listener.
I’m pretty sure that Bipolar is the best album I’ve heard since 2001 and with much apologies to Wolfgang and Razorback, I think that this record has a good case for being the best OPM album ever. It’s that good, people. I hope those who truly care about OPM and the value of pushing the creative envelope to the hilt would support this superb offering from one of the country’s premiere band.
TO UP DHARMA DOWN:
As a fan, I would like to thank you all for working hard for this album. I’m very grateful that you are sharing this great record with the reast of us. I bought three copies of Fragmented so that I could give my future children sealed copies of that amazing album. I’m sure I’ll be getting more copies of Bipolar. You guys deserve all the praise and accolades that you’ve gotten to this day. Thank you for setting the bar high!
There are still a few copies of the limited edition CD with documentary DVD so make sure you contact Terno Records.
to BUY contact Terno Recordings
M +63 917 534 5404
E ternorecordings2 (at) gmail.com
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