Category Archives: reflections

in memoriam

Today I remember how in 2008 I was in desperate need to satiate my jrock fix. My favorite band L’Arc~en~Ciel has just announced their hiatus and I needed a new band to fill in the void. While scouring the jrock section of the Ongaku Society forums, I stumbled upon the thread for this band that was described as “sounding like the old Dir en Grey”. I took a chance with one of the recommend songs, Grudge. I failed to note the Dir en Grey influence but my interest was indeed piqued. I listened to another song then another. I watched a clip of them performing Tatoeba kimi ga shindara live and was amazed how the vocalist seemed to sound even better than the recording. Then I switched to their performance of Screen during the Spiral Staircase tour. The lights were low, the sound even lower. The vocalist started his verse. The music built up. The vocalist hit a high note as the guitars screamed. The lights went up and I knew right then and there they would have me for life.

I remember listening to Squall for the first time and having goose bumps. I remember reading the lyrics for in vain and how I laughed when I got to the part with all the Xs.

I remembering finally being able to watch the complete performances from Spiral Staircase and being mesmerized. I’ve watched my favorite parts over and over again. Sometimes, I would play it in the background as I write. More often that not, I end up setting aside whatever it is that I’m doing and just glue my eyes to the screen. I have seen numerous recorded performances since then but those from Spiral Staircase would always be my favorite. If only Hizumi’s voice didn’t catch a snag during Squall then everything would have been perfect.

I remember writing my second attempt at writing a formal album review right after I got my own copy of their third full-length album, Redeemer and how it became the first of the many articles I would soon dedicate to them. I remember raving about MONSTERS and how my review found a kindred soul in another blogger’s own assessment of the album. That became my initiation to a network of bloggers whose common passion was jrock. I remember being dead-tired because it’s already past 3am and I’ve been analyzing data the whole day but then I saw gacktpause has just posted his live report. Naturally, the Sandman had to wait. I remember spending too much time backtracking notafanboy’s posts for anything and everything about D’espairsRay. I discovered her journal in my search for translated interviews. Lucky for me, her journal turned out to be a treasure throve for translations AND live reports.

And then there was that one time I messaged CDJapan on Twitter regarding the release date of MONSTERS. Lo and behold, I got a tweet from the band’s official account. The message was rather snobbish and it really bothered me. Toshi of CDJapan assured me that it was all just a translation error. Nevertheless, I messaged @despairs back asking whether it was just a bad day for them hence the rudeness. Whoever was managing it answered back with an apology and came up with the ludicrous excuse that s/he forgot to add a smiley to the first message. Yeah right. Like that would change anything.

I remember asking my friends if it’s sane to pay a huge chunk of my salary for a DVD. Every single one of them was against it. “But it was the 10th Anniversary live!”, I counter-opinioned. Plus it comes a shirt. A shirt! And a mini-photo book. And cellphone strap. And did I already mention that it comes with a shirt? Nevermind if the design looked like rainbow vomit safari.

Then one afternoon, I got shaken to the core when I read the news that D’espairsRay would be on an indefinite hiatus. The announcement said that Hizumi was very sick. I remember immediately tearing up. Our office manager, whose cubicle was near mine, saw me crying. I can still vividly recall the way her forehead crumpled as she tried to comprehend that I’m crying because  some strange band would be pausing activities. I remember that it suddenly rained very hard that afternoon and I remarked that the weather was sympathizing with me. The whole afternoon saw me in a daze. When I got home, I immediately put into practice everything I know about google-fu in search for a cure. I ended up not getting any sleep that night. I pored over dozens of articles and speed-read numerous reports. Then I condensed them into 1 post. The next day, I was so disoriented I ended up accidentally locking myself up all alone in the office. I literally had to wait for someone to come in the morning to set me free.

The day after my post got online, I noticed an unusual activity in my blog. Visitors were pouring in like mad. By mid-afternoon, the numbers have reached 3 digits already and that’s just for a single post. Come midnight, the count had exceeded the number of visitors I could ever hope for in a quarter of a year. I then found out that someone mentioned my post at the largest D’espairsRay community on Livejournal. I checked the thread and was rendered speechless. Two members of the community have translated parts of my post into Japanese and sent them to any available channel to D’espairsRay. Not a few mentioned that they too would do their own research. Everyone was thinking how to best show our support for the band during these trying times. The show of solidarity was just so overwhelming. At that moment, I was at my very proudest for being part of such a dedicated and unselfish fanbase.

During the hiatus, I did not go in search of another band to dedicate my attention. On the contrary, I sought the company of other mania. Twitter has become my refuge. And in it, I found people who share my longing. Together, we reminisce. As one, we look forward to Hizumi’s swift recovery and D’espairsRay’s triumphant return. I also found another proof that indeed, the world is flat. Sometimes, I do get bewildered when I realize that the people whom I’m discussing with the merits of Karyu’s method of baking a cake are scattered all over the globe.

Finally, I remember that just a few hours ago as I was about to attend an important project briefing, I saw a tweet bearing bad news. It contained just two sentences, 3 words and yet it felt that like a ton of bricks when it hit me. I went thru my meeting. Had dinner with a colleague. Did my grocery. Navigated thru the Metro traffic.When I got home, I dumped my things. Slumped on my bed and just let go of the tears I’ve been holding up for hours. There’s no triumphant return to expect. D’espairsRay is no longer coming back.

It’s again past 3am. D’espairsRay made me ditch the Sandman one more time. But then again, this could also be the very last. The last time I’m losing sleep for them, the last time I’m writing a post about them. To paraphrase Neruda, though this be the last pain that they made me suffer and these the last verses that I write for them. And yet, just as it was said in the very same poem: my soul is not satisfied that it had lost them.

Every fiber in me refuses to acknowledge that this is the end. I vow then to remember this day. I will recall all that was said and all the emotions it entailed. And then I would enter Yokohama Blitz and I would rock my heart out with the crowd as we all welcome back D’espairsRay, reunited.

this is not an anniversary post

Three years ago today, I wrote my very first post about music on SOLILOQUY. But no, today is not SOLILOQUY’s 3rd anniversary. 2009 doesn’t really count given that I only wrote 2 measly articles that year. What I want to celebrate today instead is something far much important: the first instance this musically-challenged noob decided to crossover from passive listener to active advocate of jrock.

If, by any chance, you strayed over into my About page, you would have noticed that it contains nothing but a quote from George Starostin, a respected linguist who also found recognition as a music critic, and I’m reprinting it here:

Of course, this is presumptuous. Who am I to make my opinions matter? Basically a nobody — not a musician, not a musicologist, not even a superb connoisseur of the pop culture, and not even a native English speaker. There are so many people in the world who are better “qualified” for this line of work than me, it’s not even funny. And who am I to give someone something? How have I been authorized? How have I even been able to suppose that someone might want to con­sider taking this bullshit from me?

The answers are simple: you cannot really know until you try

So try, I did. And SOLILOQUY was born.

Well, that quote was actually part of a very insightful essay on internet based amateur criticism entitled “Why Writing About Music Beats Dancing About Architecture”. I was moved the first time I read it but the essay took a whole new level of significance when I found myself reading it over and over again during the times I’m contemplating whether to continue with SOLILOQUY or not. I’ve had my fun. The numbers might not have been groundbreaking, but at least I knew that there are those willing to take some “bullshit” from me. Now what?

Starostin captured that dilemma spot-on:

Then, at one point, the rut set in, and a crisis was imminent. First came the understanding that the process is endless; timeless musical masterpieces may be few, but “good” music stretches out to infinity, in width as well as in depth, and my idealistic “encyclopaedic” dreams of covering eve­ry­thing worth covering were shattered and smashed…

Second came the understanding that I had run out of things to say — there’s only so many different words in the English language, and far from all of them are easily applicable to a music review, and this brings on the horrible idea that, perhaps, if you catch your­self applying the exact same words to a dozen different albums by different artists in different times, this might mean that the music sounds exactly the same? And if it does not, what good it is to try and capture its essence with such inadequate means?

At a moment like this, the only thing that keeps you going is understanding that, if you just drop it, this means you have wasted an awful amount of time and potential with all your previous writing. There is also the idea of “obligation”: people who like to read you expect you to entertain them further, and maybe they have a certain flimsy right to. But going on just for the sake of going on isn’t a lot of fun, either.

Ouch on that last line.

Given that I’ve only been doing this for about a year or so, to speak about being burnt out is premature and to some extent egotistic.  But when there are tons of drama happening in real life, sustaining an existence in the blogosphere becomes yet another task competing for attention. At the end of the day, you just have to ask: “Is this a commitment really worth pursuing?”

April 3rd of this year, I found my answer. So here I am, looking forward to writing more about the music that I love. Once more, with feelings.

pensive HYDE

note: to read Starostin essay in its entirety, go this page. I highly recommend it. Be cautioned though that the page takes time to load and the essay is at the very bottom.

The Departure of DELUHI

With the slew of announcements regarding this or that jrock band’s dissolution bombarding our newsfeeds last year, it’s not hard to imagine that perhaps someone somewhere was relentlessly listing the names of jrock bands on a mysterious notebook while shouting “SAKUJO” with all the dramatic flair he could muster.

Well, whoever he is, he has struck again.

Teru Mikami

Having followed their progress and reviewed majority of their releases last year, I note with sadness DELUHI’s latest announcement that they are going to disband.

The whole thing felt surreal on 2 accounts:

  • when the band announced their hiatus way back in October, the reason was supposed to be to “further expand the band’s potential”. Leda even promised that when they return, “all of the members will have equal strength”.
  • secondly, the announcement was made on April Fool’s Day. No one should trust the internet on April Fool’s Day.

It has already been 10 days since and the shocking statement is still up on their OHP.

DELUHI is unequivocally departing. And it sucks. Big time.

My first encounter with the band is via their song REVOLVER BLAST. To this day, it has remained one of my favorite songs and when played with Wake Up!, another DELUHI favorite, I am given my much needed dose of energy.  And energy is one description that I will always attach to DELUHI.

DELUHI

Being a relatively young band, the passion and youthful exuberance are still very much palpable in their songs and performances. Even with just 2 mini-albums under their belt, DELUHI had already exhibited so much promise and versatility. Give or take a few more years, and DELUHI could have been spectacular.

DELUHI reminds me of the how girugamesh used to be, you know, before Ryo and the crew decided to become a lil’ bit radio-friendly.  In fact, I honestly believe that their last mini-album Yggdalive could fit very well into girugamesh’s discography. It fills the gap between the brilliant self-titled girugamesh and the experimental MUSIC.

Much like girugamesh before them, DELUHI had all the potential to blaze a blistering path before them. This made it even harder to fathom why that fire fanned out this early. So far, what we know is that bassist Aggy wanted out. All the band members decided then decided to disband as  “there would be no meaning in the DELUHI they continued with”. Fair enough. All that’s left now is to wish them good luck. Who knows, perhaps someday they’ll get together again after they’ve found their way back from that unseen destination. Just as they said in their portentous last single Departure, they will ask themselves in 5 years time “Do you still have the same dream?” Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to hear from them again.

NO MUSIC NO REASON

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. High school was a breeze because of top40 hits. Then as I got older, my taste became, shall I say it, more refined. I survived all-nighters in college with my eyes on the computer and Rage Against the Machine blaring on my ear. In my college thesis, I almost included Radiohead, Nirvana and Silverchair on the acknowledgement page as they helped me get thru tons of research and re-writes.

And then I discovered jrock and as they say, my life has never been the same.

It all began with a mixtape.

My younger brother brought home a compilation of anime theme songs given to him by a classmate. I’m  a big fan of anime so he lent it to me. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with the theme songs before as I’m guilty of skipping the opening credits. But lo and behold, amidst the confetti of jpop fluff I discovered gems. That mixtape introduced me to the music of Siam Shade, Asian Kung-fu Generation, and of course, to the 1 of only 2 bands I would ever admit of being a fangirl,  L’Arc~en~Ciel (in case you’re wondering, D’espairsRay is the other one but we’ll get to that later).

L'Arc~en~Ciel
Have Laruku, will follow

I owe it to that mixtape for introducing me to jrock. But what really immersed me hook, line, down to the damning sinker is the online forum Ongaku Society. Becoming a novice fan of jrock when one is tens of thousands kilometers away from Japan is tough, especially when my friends give me a blank stare every time I gush about a new song I discovered. Just imagine then my joy upon finding out that there is a site dedicated to Filipino fans of Japanese music. In the presence of peers, my fascination for jrock became a full-blown commitment.

Sadly, Ongaku Society is no more. The site was down for the longest time only to resurface without its most vital component: the forums. My memories though of the time spent lurking on the site remain intact to this day. For the longest time, Ongaku Society has become my one and only resource for jrock. It sated my appetite for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel and introduced me to the likes of Alice Nine, the GazettE and most importantly, D’espairsRay. I remember that visits to the Alice Nine and the GazettE threads were always a source of pure amusement to me. The said threads were always updated with the latest pictures and adorned with comments like “<insert band member’s name here> – sama!!!” I also owe it to those threads for expanding my vocabulary to include “ikemen” and “smexy”. Good times indeed.

I never stood a chance. Jrock-related stuff is actually part of my budget now. I made my first purchase in 2007: HYDE’s first and last album as a solo artist: Roetngen and Faith. I bought it off Amazon US as the American version of both albums were much cheaper. Then I learned about the wonders of Oricon and so I opted to buy my stuff on YesAsia and later on, CDJapan.

my first jrock loot
topmost was the actual box that encased my first jrock cds

There’s only one thing left really, and I’m fervently anticipating the day I get to complete the full jrock experience: to watch at least one of my favorite bands live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it quite ironic that despite the Philippines and Japan being on the same continent, performances by Japanese acts are close to nil in my country. And for some reason, every time these bands embark on the a “world” tour, Asian countries are left out. Nevertheless, I’ll have my chance soon and I’ll be sure to faithfully document it here on SOLILOQUY.

So that’s just about it, my history as a jrock fan. If you have wandered into this site and have read up to this point, chances are we share the same affliction. The question now is, how did yours started?

(note: post title is courtesy of girugamesh from the album NOW)

once more, with feelings

A thousand reasons I could give why it took this long but that would be digressing. And so without further ado, I gleefully announce that…

SOLILOQUY is back.

To all of those who contributed in giving the site some stat action despite the inactivity, thank you. Whether you really are awaiting for new posts or just stumbled upon SOLILOQUY in your quest for “Hizumi naked”, hats off still to you, dear visitors Smile

On a more serious note, this is actually the 2nd time SOLILOQUY will be revived. During the first revival, I vowed to post more often. Given the fact that the bulk of the site’s content were written around the third quarter of 2010, it’s safe to say that the objective was fulfilled. But the pressure to post as much as I can took its toll hence, the necessary break. This time around, I commit to putting more weight on quality rather than on quantity.

I do have now a lot of ideas that I’m raring to put into writing. Should they actually make it into print, please do share your thoughts with me too. And while you’re at it, how about dropping me a welcome note as well, eh?

Finally, here’s a little something to all of you Hizumi lovers out there.

HIZUMI almost naked
COME AND GET IT!

Ja, Mata Ne!

Taking a cue from the recent trend in jrock, kenryoku would like to announce that SOLILOQUY is disbanding.

The site was primarily set up to contain musings on and criticisms about film. But somehow it had evolved into a mishmash of reviews on jrock and movie releases – and the former is heavily outnumbering the latter.

In order to maintain coherence and focus, all posts about film will be migrated into another blog (tentatively called “Now Travelling at the Speed of Plot” ).

SOLILOQUY will solely be about jrock now. The site though is set to undergo an overhaul. Which brings us now to another recent trend…..hiatus.

I haven’t posted in a long, long while and it doesn’t look like that I will in the immediate future. All updates are on hold until I have figured out a white space SOLILOQUY can fill in the jrock blogosphere. Or to be more honest, until I regain the drive I had when I first resurrected this blog around June of this year. The fire has been burning low and lest SOLILOQUY start spewing just soot, I’d rather take a break to fan the flames.

To everyone who had wandered to this site….THANK YOU.

I look forward crossing paths with you again when SOLILOQUY rises from the ashes.

(In the meantime, there is always twitter 🙂 )