Sound Architects have mastered the balance between atmosphere and aggression

Photo by Jules Ruizol

We went with birds that aren’t exactly flying… It’s the saddest thing that can happen to a bird. Di siya makalipad.

Two blue ravens encircle each other on the cover art of Sound Architects’ debut album, “In Time of Need.” It’s a striking visual of irony and misfortune, discussing the thought of not being able to do what one is born and loves to do. This thinking runs deep through the veins of this roaring yet ethereally serene six-track release.

The band has drawn comparisons to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s sound, the latter being one of the forerunners of the post-rock genre alongside the likes of Sigur Rós and Mogwai. The genre is loosely defined by its use of layering of guitars and synthesizers to create atmospheric soundscapes that transcend the conventions of less experimental genres. Sound Architects nuances this discussion with their fusion of the painterly and entrancing with the disruptive and inciting. They take this grand, bombastic sound and ground it with a raw, deeply rooted aggression, then inject elements of doom, drone and shoegaze.

We sat outside Mow’s a couple of hours before the band’s set, discussing their latest work, while guitarist Johann Mendoza munched on a plate of sweet and sour pork rice. During our talk, we got to discuss musical influences, working on their album, and their plans for the future.

Drummer Felix Cordova explained that the band would usually record and produce their tracks before coming up with titles. Sound Architects chose the name “In Time of Need” as a way of validating the sides of themselves that they don’t usually show to the public. “It gives [the album] that sense of urgency, somehow.”

“In Time of Need” was in the works for more than a year, with the band frequently returning to Point Bee Multimedia to work with Earthmover’s Daniel Garcia. Time and availability limited their chances to collect and record because Rjay, Felix, Patrick and Johann all still had school to worry about. “Well, they’re students… I’m graduating, so, bye guys!” joked guitarist Patrick Roxas about their situation.

The vision for the album was constructed bit-by-bit and cemented by two catalyst tracks. Johann explained that the climactic turning of Icarus and intense thrashing of Seismos defined a visual narrative of the dissonance of eeriness and anger that they wanted to hear from their debut release.

The third song listed on the album, Icarus, features a soaring build-up of atmosphere and sudden descent into hopelessness. The cathartic piece was composed, but more aptly, designed by bassist Rjay Concepcion, then correlated to the Greek myth of the eponymous boy who flew too close to the sun. This juxtaposition of classic context and visualization of the music exemplifies the beauty of the ambient and atmospheric rock Sound Architects is known for.

What set this album apart from their previous discography was the driven power and aggression creeping throughout all six songs. Patrick explained that their older works were stereotypical of post-rock acts with their emotional, feel-y vibes, but “In Time of Need” featured more elements rooted in rock and metal, along with Sound Architects’ more unpalatable influences.

The album launch, co-presented by Polaris Project and Continental Records was on June 3 at Mow’s Basement. It featured a stacked opening lineup of fellow experimental acts BEAST JESUS, Lindenwood, Musical O, and Local Disk (C:. There was a frenetic pulse that ran throughout the night with every band sharing the same explosive energy amplified by the packed venue and hypnotic light shows. By the time Sound Architects came on, the room was filled to the brim and bursting with excitement for the first-time performances of the band’s newest releases. They played the whole album, along with familiar songs like Aurora, Kismet and Alay Sa Dagat.

Sound Architects’ ambitions from here on out include playing more gigs outside of Metro Manila, and eventually more international stages like Singapore’s Bay Beats. Their end goal is to connect more with the closely intertwined DIY and music communities around them, and continue playing their hearts out at every show. It’s this heartfelt passion that continues to push our music scene to grow and develop into its truest self, and in times like this, it’s exactly what we need.

 

Sound Architects is currently in the middle of a tour to promote the album. You can follow them for updates on Facebook, and listen to “In Time of Need” and the band’s other releases on their Bandcamp.

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