Once in a while I like to venture down to the local record shop to pillage their bargain bins for some musical pick-and-mix. Instead of the usual Billy Joel’s and Now That’s What I Call Music’s, the local store often brings in EPs and singles of lesser known artists from the UK and overseas.
Here, the baskets consist of the likes of Childish Gambino, and more recently Blackbird Blackbird.. The eponymous Blackbird is a one-man project from San Francisco, Mikey Maramag. Maramag’s musicality came from the San Francisco hardcore scene, the drummer for bands such as Murder Practice and offering vocals on other projects.
Maramag left the scene in 2009 to pursue his education. At the University of California he found a taste for electronic music, sampling a wealth of artists from Aphex Twin to Zedd. For anyone hoping to jump into the world of electronic music, Maramag is a success story close to the achievable, using his knowledge of the audio-production programs Reasons, Fruity Loops and Ableton Live to earn a footing in the genre.
His latest contribution to music comes in the form of the delightfully rhythmic ‘Boracay Planet EP’. Boracay is one of the dozen islands that compose the Philippines, known for its crystal white sands, stretching coastal vistas, and a burgeoning club scene which rivals that of Ibiza. Doubtlessly Maramag set out to re-create the island’s atmosphere on a titanic scale; something achieved through six incredible aperitifs.
Boracay planet is rich with atmospheric tracks; ‘It’s A War’, the opening track of the EP, is a melodic and stripped back piece, which comes across more like a record from an established Indie band, say Vampire Weekend, with the reverberating guitar riffs to boot. Echoing vocals render a very otherworldly feel to the track, whilst offering uplifting lyrics and a keyed-down drum track.
Perhaps my favourite track from the EP is ‘All’, in which a sombre tone combines with an upbeat synth and a descending guitar rift to produce a transient piece of music; the likes of which are simply unheard of. The track culminates with a xylophone solo, a sentence not easily read without drawing a snigger; however, I defy anyone to listen to this song without feeling even slightly in awe of Blackbird.
Blackbirds’ sound is a mix of acoustic and electronic which transcends the normal constraints of electronic music; taking inspiration perhaps from the orchestral sound of M83 and lyrical queues from Alt-J, Blackbird creates a very relaxed atmosphere to all his work. Maramag shows his virtuoso talents in this EP, which is an audible and veritable pleasure for the audience.
If you’re hungry for more, then you might not have to wait long for a full length album. Maramag hasn’t confirmed a release date, yet we can expect something rare and beautiful from what he calls “the milestone of this whole project.”
Link to Blackbird Blackbird’s website: http://blackbirdblackbird.bandcamp.com/album/boracay-planet
Cover art for Boracay Planet