Eraserheads rock harder with Carbon Stereoxide

I am resigned to the reality that the music of the Eraserheads will never again be as new and exciting as it was during the heady time of Ligaya or Toyang and Huling El Bimbo. But that is no reason to now consider any new release by the E-heads as the dying gasps of a band struggling to regain its commercial appeal. I must admit I still hear the sound of struggle but this time around it is that of talent trying to make itself heard over the expectations of the listeners and being very conscious about the effort.

The new album is Carbon Stereoxide. I do not know what the title means. It was easy to decipher ultraelectromagneticpop. So was Circus and even Sticker Happy. Cutterpillow also made sense easily. Carbon Stereoxide does not. It must have its roots in carbon monoxide which we give out and which plants inhale so they can emit oxygen which we inhale and which comes out as carbon monoxide and woe to the whole world if the process should be reversed.

Carbon Stereoxide
finds the Eraserheads at the crossroads. It has been eight years since the first album. That is a lot more than the Beatles ever had. Now frightfully conscious of their status as rock stars, they must prove themselves better and younger-sounding with every new release. Youth is nearly always what the local hit charts are all about. And given the varied contents of the album, they are obviously torn between being a great rock band and the comfortable cocoon of a mellower, more mainstream sound that proved so radio-friendly before.

The first decision made was to pare down the sound and go back to the basics, so we get real guitars and real drums. These do get too loud in the wrong places at times, but take note, they are real. Then the E-heads and producer Robin Rivera ventured forth into different territories like dance, electronica and good old pop ballads. Of course rock holds the entire package together and it is on these cuts that they lay on everything on the music. When Carbon Stereoxide rocks, these guys rock harder than they ever did before.

What is definitely lost on me is how these guys have lost their sense of fun. Can age or maturity or success really do that? The Eraserheads’ idea of fun in Carbon Stereoxide is putting together mini-productions on assorted topics via sound bytes in the songs and in between cuts. The sound of a baby’s breathing over the ultrasound machine comes in the opening track. There is also the sound of a blood test. If you do not know what that one is like, check out the E-heads interpretation in the album. These are interesting for performance artists but not much fun. As for the humor in the songs, they are most of the time either snide or stale.

All these things however, are not reason enough to dismiss Carbon Stereoxide as something that failed to work for the Eraserheads. Any album by an act as important as the E-heads, deserves another chance. Besides, I have learned over the years that most of the time all it takes for an album to grow on you are repeated listenings. Play it again and again to get into the beat, absorb even the clichés and then wait for the moment when you can find yourself lost in the music. If that still fails to work, then it is time to begin the wait for the next album.

The cuts that make up Carbon Stereoxide are Ultrasound, Maskara, which is the first single release, How Far Will U Go, Bloodtest, Wala, Hula, Photo Synth, Palamig, Out of Sight, Super Vision, Paintstripper, Escalator Alligator, Playground, Omnesia, OK Comprende, Pula, Outside and Acid Eyes. Every copy of the album comes with a free VCD, which contains the music video of Maskara directed by E-heads member Ely Buendia. Check for yourself if this one will prove to be as successful as the enchanting Huling El Bimbo, which won the MTV Asia Viewers’ Choice Award during the MTV Awards held in New York five years ago.

The Eraserheads is made up of Ely Buendia and Marcus Adoro on guitars, Buddy Zabala on bass and Raymund Marasigan on drums.












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