As the Music Plays (2004) — Bamboo — Album Review

 I’m not sure with the interpretation but I’ll give it a guess anyway. Pride and the Flame describes a relationship between a parent and their baby.

The persona telling the story is either the mom or dad while the other one is far away from home to work. If my guess is far from the real thing, I apologize to the band and the song just flew by right me. #2 — Light Years.

The melody doesn’t deliver. The song’s direction isn’t clear. #1 Hudas (Judas). Hudas and Mr. Clay have a similar approach in the relationship between the weak and the powerful. But here in Hudas, the idea is that we humans are doomed if we do not open our eyes to reality. And the reality here is that we humans have to act as well and not let God do everything for us. However, Hudas does not have the impact of Mr. Clay. 

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I think Hudas is lacking in balance and direction. My feelings for this is the same I had in Light Years. But the most awkward part is the first verse. The intro and energy feels awkward. Perhaps this is an issue with the songwriting structure. I had difficulty ranking the Top 3 since they’re all heavyweights. But before I list them down, let’s give a special mention to «These Days» the album’s YOLO song.

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The bass and guitar playing are great. These made the song work. #3 — Masaya (Happy/Joy). The most heart wrenching and saddest song in the album. At first listen, you’ll probably wonder why it sounds sad but the song is entitled «Masaya» (Happy). Was this intentional? Surely yeah! That’s what makes this so intriguing. The lyrics are very short and the chords are simple and yet it’s impactful, why? Firstly, the melody is beautiful.

It conveys the mellowness and heartbreak of the situation. Second, since the lyrics is short, it’s easier to remember these words: Why is love like this? Love is really like that when it’s new. It’s really like that, joyful. For me, Masaya is a good example of a simple song (in all senses of the word), but the end result is effective and beautiful. #2 Noypi (Word play on Pinoy). The patriotic song of the album.

I just noticed that Noypi is the only song in the album with a vocal hook. Anyway, the bass is solid as well. I’m sure this bass riff is already iconic. The lyrics are beautiful. The song focuses on the world-famous Filipino resilience. That whatever the universe throws at us, we’re still standing. Of course this resilience has both good and bad aspects. 

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But in the right time, this resilience can be the key to our survival. And if we’re to continue surviving, we must have motivation or something that will push us to succeed. This is where the music comes in. Because of how it’s written, Noypi brings out the hype. The verses are calm but in the chorus, the band goes all-out! The dynamics between the two are so different. 

That’s why the song is so effective in evoking the sense of nationalism and fighting spirit. #1 — Mr. Clay. It’s about fighting and criticizing the corruption of the world’s most powerful. There’s also an idea here about being firm despite the corruption all around. Lyrics-wise, this is my favorite one. Just take a look at this intro! I believe that this song is the most creative in the album when it comes to rhyme schemes, symbolisms and choice of words. 

I recommend reading the lyrics while listening especially by the rap part. And I’d just like to share, I still don’t know why the title is «Mr. Clay». Is this a symbol, pop culture reference, or inside joke? If you know, please share it in the comments! And when it comes to music, the work is polished. The sound is badass. It really fits the angst and anger in the lyrics. 

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The guitar riff is simple but heavy. In general, the performances are great, both on an individual and band level. If there’s one song that showcases all their skills, it’s As the Music Plays the Band. To be honest, I think the song is just there for exhibition purposes. The lyrics are so meta. The 1-10 count in the chorus is just there to give Bamboo a chance to show his vocal prowess. 

And there’s a solo where the bass, guitar, and drums all show off their skills. This is the equivalent of the song Reborn in South Border’s Bump Album. When it comes to sound, Bamboo is labeled as «alternative rock». The simple definition of alternative rock is rock that isn’t mainstream. Yes that’s it essentially. It also means that the sound of alternative rock changes depending on the era of music. For 2000s Filipino popular music, Bamboo is an example of an alternative rock band.

This is the reason why Bamboo sounds so different from the famous mainstream rock bands of their time. Let’s recap the Top 3. Masaya is simple but carries all the feels. Noypi works because it embodies the Filipino resilience in a creative and beautiful way. Mr. Clay has the most poetic of lyrics matched with badass music. For me, the most interesting aspect of the band’s songwriting for this album is their dynamics…as a band.

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I don’t feel that the band only relies on one instrument. For comparison purposes, this is what I felt with Callalily’s Destination XYZ where everything latches on to the guitar. Different instruments take center stage across the album. In Noypi, the bass takes the spotlight. In Masaya, the vocals take charge. In These Days, the guitar leads the way. In Mr. Clay, the guitar and drums form the badass phrase throughout the song. When it comes to song topics, it’s a mix. 

It’s noticeable that there’s no love song in the album. Perhaps the most common theme here is the relationship of the «ruler and ruled over». Take Me Down revolves around the relationship between a child and the father or mentor figure. Hudas tackles the relationship between Man and God. Mr. Clay deals with the relationship between the people and the abusive elite.

And for These Days, well maybe we can look at it as a relationship between Man vs the world. If I were to compare this to an album I’ve previously reviewed, it would be Urbandub’s Under Southern Lights. But to be honest, it’s hard to compare the two because they’re too unique on their own. Urbandub has a sound that’s nowhere near the Bamboo aesthetic. Bamboo doesn’t also sound like WilaBaliw and Kjwan. It’s just proof that rock is so diverse. 

It’s really a game-changer when you have a unique sound. It’s not a mystery as to why Bamboo became successful upon the release of As the Music Plays back in 2004. The band plays beautifully, they’re original, and they know how to set themselves apart in the world of Filipino rock. 

I’m giving As the Music Plays Since Bamboo only released 4 studio albums, and one is a cover album I can say that I only need 2 more albums to review to finish their catalogue of original music. If you want to listen to the album, the link is in the description. I’m Mikoy and until next time, thank you and long live Filipino music! English

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