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Good Music And Then Some

Indie pop band The Gentle Isolation has their moment in the spotlight

by Paul John Cana
The Manila Times | August 19, 2010

In a musical landscape dominated by larger-than-life personalities, eye-popping theatrics and assembly-line quality songwriting, how can an upstart stand out and be heard? For The Gentle Isolation, the guiding principle is simple and straightforward: “There’s always room for good music.” That and this advice from a veteran musician to bassist Monch Cristobal: “To be able to get recognized in music, your songs must have good melodies.”

That’s where it all starts for the Meycauayan, Bulacan-based quartet. From the melodies already crafted, the tunes already spun and the songs already sung, these words keep the band inspired and motivated.

The beauty of simplicity is a belief the band members all share. “Our sound is simple and friendly,” vocalist and acoustic guitarist Ness Urian says. “Some might say it’s sweet and soothing. It feels like it brings you to a scenic place with an upshot of a positive mood. It’s a form of escapism from life’s everyday pickle.”

Along with Monch and Ness, the band is composed of Bachie Rudica on drums and Joseph Rovero on electric guitar. Like most musical projects, The Gentle Isolation began with jamming sessions and afternoons spent listening to records that excited and enthralled. Childhood friends Bachie and Monch hung out at each other’s homes listening to vinyls and cassette records. They met free-spirited Ness who happened to share their taste in tunes. Joseph, whom Bachie met through their fondness for radio-controlled toys, completed the lineup. The name, Monch reveals, comes from a fondness for a song by Darling Buds, “Isolation,” which they used to cover, along with another band they often listened to, The Gentle Waves.

The band’s musical diet is heavily influenced by New Wave and British rock bands of the 80s and 90s. It wasn’t uncommon to hear songs by The Stone Roses, Echo and the Bunnymen, Morrissey and The Ocean Blue during their early years, especially when Ness’ brother Christopher was part of the band and performed vocal duties. After his interests shifted to other pursuits, Ness moved up front and center. It was during this time that the band started to adjust their sound, partly to avoid overpowering Ness’ soft, lilting voice with too-heavy instrumentation, and partly to get the chance to play covers by their favorite indie and twee pop bands. They tried doing “French Navy” by Camera Obscura and the result, not to mention audience feedback, was nothing less than encouraging. When they began writing their own material, the shift not only made sense, it proved fortuitous because it would lead them to a record deal with Lilystars Record.

The indie pop label best known for being the home of The Camerawalls threw its full support behind founder Clementine’s fellow Bulaceños. The Gentle Isolation soon became a fixture in the label’s regular production The Pop Shoppe, which features some of the best undiscovered indie pop bands around. Pretty soon, the band had written enough material for an EP, and it is this five-song collection, entitled “It Started With An April Shower,” which they are launching via a groundbreaking production at the Ayala Museum. Monch explains that the idea for the EP is a compendium of their best material, packaged in a special collector’s edition. “The songs are mainly about grateful love and relationships,” he says. “They have a positive outlook accompanied by jangly guitars, bopping beats and cute melodies.” A full-length album is not completely out of the question, but for now, the EP is a loving gift from the band for their loyal listeners and anyone else who can appreciate honest, organic, good music. After all, in order to stand out and be heard, you hardly need anything else.

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