The EP sings about what happens in paradise after dark
The first PARADISE RISING EP, semilucent, was proof that Filipinos have always been brimming with talent. And with semilucent 2, the label unites new faces of Filipino music as they continue to put us on the map. Homegrown and diasporic artists make up the participating roster, making this compilation another show of talent you can’t ignore. Plus, it’s highkey timely that PARADISE RISING is breaking ground smack dab in the middle of Filipino American History Month.
For this EP, PARADISE RISING drew “inspiration from the darker mood that comes with the ending of summer.” It holds especially true, as all songs show you the different sides of paradise after dark. A different kind of nostalgia emerges in semilucent 2 as MANILA GREY, Steven Peregrina, daze, CA Christian Alexander, Curtismith, Manila Killa and Yuna take the lead.
semilucent 2 kicks off with the upbeat track Island Baby (Maarte) by hiphop duo MANILA GREY. This song sets the mood for the rest of the EP, one where Island Baby’s addictive 808 beats and the sensual guitar plucking beckon you to dance without a care in the world. Island Baby is a little more energetic from the duo’s usual R&B sound. The acoustic guitar adds a nice tropical touch to this anthem, almost reminiscent of happy nights spent in beachside bars. Lyrically, MANILA GREY flips the negative connotation around the word maarte in the song as they pay homage to the women in their lives. It’s an earnest show of our culture and heritage from their lens.
Steven Peregrina’s All Night sustains the tone set by MANILA GREY. It’s energetic. Upbeat. It invites you to simply vibe and dance along as the track paints a picture of late nights out. Think dark bars illuminated by neon signs and strobe lights. The song transports us back to the parties we vaguely remember but are undoubtedly all kinds of fun. All Night is sonically like Steven’s other release, Dance With You, which continues the new direction from his usual sound of slow and reverbed R&B tracks or lo-fi ballads sung over acoustic guitar instrumentals.
The EP then winds down with Situation by daze. If anything, this track is a bit similar to the vibe of the first semilucent EP: slow, snare beats coupled with gentle electric guitar chords. Its intro is enough to lead us upward into the clouds, but her soulful voice stands out in contrast with the slow and smooth R&B instrumental. daze pulls us back down to reality as she croons about both the hope and hurt of being in a situationship. The song acts as a jarring reality check in the midst of happy and high emotions, which makes Situation reminiscent of quiet nights alone in our rooms. We’re alone, contemplating in silence and choosing between taking the plunge or letting fate run its course.
The pain and confusion from Situation heighten with Black Hearts. This dark trap-R&B track brings the EP to another side paradise as CA Christian Alexander and Curtismith mull over relationships turned cold. Curtismith’s rhythmic, almost-sung flows bleed seamlessly with CA Christian Alexander’s, which shows off their amazing synergy as collaborators. The hazy effect on their voices adds a darker, pained and more ominous emotion.
However, Manila Killa and Yuna close the EP on a lighter, more hopeful note with Reminisce. This track leads semilucent 2 down a cheerful and bright path with the retro-disco beats. It’s funky, almost as if the dark evening is illuminated by neon lights yet again—but this time it’s not happening in the present. Instead, we’re busy combing through our memories. According to Yuna, the instrumental inspired her to “write something emotional, about romanticizing the past or a memory that lives in your head forever.” And romanticize the past we did to Reminisce.
All in all, semilucent 2 is an ode to another side of paradise—the one where the temperature has slightly dipped and the sun has set. Nights in this wonderland can be happy and loud, while sometimes, the evenings turn quieter. Colder. It’s in these still moments that we long for the nights filled with action and yearn for the memories we made in the summer.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver