Phantoms

Phantoms is the first collection of compositions for then pseudonym names are for tombstones. Not originally meant to be “released” but was technically an experiment with home recording and looping using the personal computer.

Phantoms
Phantoms (2001/2003) – Initial recordings spanning 1997-2001

[ Download this album for free for a a limited time! ]

Phantoms is the first collection of compositions for then pseudonym names are for tombstones. Not originally meant to be “released” but was technically an experiment with home recording and looping using the personal computer. It can also be called a mini album and was originally called Phantoms EP considering its length is under an hour. The production quality, by today’s standards, can now be considered poor or dated.

This album got me featured in Pulp (via Giz Roque) and Manila Sunday Times (via Karl De Mesa). Let me tell you short stories about the songs.

Covenant (Adagio) – An attempt to compose in classical music style inspired by Baroque and symphony music that I had listened to a lot ¬†during the period. Writer-friend¬†Karl De Mesa described it best as “Samuel Barber on downers.”

Underneath The Weather – This one has three versions with the alternate takes subtitled Quiet and Sadder. A Cure-and-Chameleons-like song about feeling sad, heart broken and lethargic as the weather “cooperates.” The alternate versions have varying synth and guitar tracks.

Feel Good (Monotony In D) – This curiously titled tune is an experiment on writing a song using just a single chord. This will remind you of The Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979.” Tuning of the guitar was also “Drop D” which seems to be a trend that time. This is also the only track that was written in Major (happy) scale.

il Vampiro – “The Vampire” in Italian. I had a fond affinity with an Italian chatter back in the late 90s who came by this name. We chatted a lot about dark music, “dated” online and sent each other stuff via snail mail. This was not supposed to be the arrangement but I had difficulty composing electronically having no real music writing skills back then. In my head this is supposed to be a full symphony.

Exasperated Machine РAn angry song about frustration in a one-sided relationship. This gives a nod to Nine Inch Nails, hence the techno  industrial beat and sung Cure-style.

Indecision – Fondly classified “Techno Goth” it’s partly a ripoff of The Sisters of Mercy’s guitar riff on Walk Away. Written only for guitar, this does not have a bass track.

Covenant – This was the source for the instrumental first track. This was as Depeche Mode as I could be when I composed it (notice the voice harmony). However, my younger brother kept teasing me that the beat sounds like something from Jennifer Lopez. This song also does not have a bass track.

Sunny, Blue Skies, Breeze (Waltz) – Another piece written classical-music-style although kinda fails a bit. It’s more a march than a waltz, actually. This is not the original arrangement since this was meant to have lyrics. I never got to record the song version that had the lyrics “Listened to melodic voices/Sunny, blue skies, breeze/Shed tears of helplessness/And wondered.”

Thanks Are In Order

At first I wanted to list people who have directly helped me but I decided on being general. If they get to read this, they will know who they are.

Early NAFT - photo by Raul Roa
Early NAFT – photo by Raul Roa

To further the anniversary month “celebration,” some thanks are in order. As a disclaimer, this will not be your usual giddy-giddy-thank-you post.

At first I wanted to list people who have directly helped me but I decided on being general. If they get to read this, they will know who they are. I will be particularly thanking those who:

  • bought the Phantoms CD-R, patronized the Swans CD-R, and continue to ask about the music;
  • got NAFT featured in printed media;
  • encouraged NAFT to start performing;
  • produced gigs for/including NAFT;
  • became music collaborators;
  • got NAFT to perform live on radio;
  • got NAFT on compilation albums released commercially/internationally;
  • have supported and continue to support NAFT.

You have made the ride worthwhile and exciting. Despite it being mainly a creative outlet/hobby, you believed.

Also much “gratitude” should also go to those who:

  • had known me a long time but never supported my passions;
  • raised eyebrows and made fun of Nono for being openly gay;
  • looked down on NAFT for not being part of the 90s band/music scene;
  • called Nono a “Prima Donna” (pa-importante, feminine of pa-rakstar) and a “rock star” (pa-rakstar);
  • tricked newbie bands to “play for pay”;
  • don’t even offer beer during gigs they organize (oops, guilty of that too);
  • send open invites then later hold it against you for grabbing each opportunity (this was a real game changer);
  • operate gig venues that have unfriendly staff (we can forgive your sucky equipment, just be nice).

You have destroyed the initial high but you made me wiser (or cynical). It also got me grounded instead of remaining afloat in my creative (but unrealistic) idealism.

Decadence

naft live v1.0 - photo by Erick Encinares
naft live v1.0 (L-R: Vener, Nono, Arwin) – photo by Erick Encinares

It was 10 years ago when we went onstage for the first time. Vener, Arwin and I, as the first performing incarnation of names are for tombstones, armed with a guitar each.