[twitter style=”vertical” float=”left”] [fbshare type=”button”] [google_plusone size=”standard” annotation=”none” language=”English (UK)”] ALAS, THE OCEAN is an acoustic project started in high school by multi-instrumentalist Allen Rapadas. Allen was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Drumheller, Canada in 2000. Often described as a mixture of indie folk and contemporary pop, ALAS, THE OCEAN is pure acoustic emotion.
Their sound has the delicate feeling and strong storytelling aspects of folk music, but is also mixed with the energy and accessibility of modern pop. Allen has also played 30 shows across the United States while touring with long time family friend and Calgary-based musician DAVID DEWOLFE. David produced this debut self-entitled EP, which was released in Summer 2011 right before their tour together. Allen is currently residing in Vancouver, Canada where he is to attend college and further his musical career. A new album is in the works and is said to be “bigger and fuller” than his previous works.
Folk music is a musical term that encompasses numerous genres, many of which are known as traditional music or roots music. Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered “roots music” because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
ALAS,THE OCEAN is forged in what I’d call roots music. Listening to the album you get the idea that the music is profound, organic and rough around the edges. It is in constant evolution, almost like the beauty of an uncut diamond awaiting the skilled hand of it’s cutter. You can see and feel the intrinsic value of what it is and what it may become.
The 9 track Ep is primarily bathed in acoustic guitar arrangements, smudges of variagated stringed instruments, the occasional piano interlude and the celestial voice(s) of Allen Rapadas.
The album opens with the instrumental piece “Wisest”, which is a melange of finger-picking and mid-tempo strumming.
“Where Is The Ocean” sits somewhere between classic Arlo Guthrie and Simon and Gurfunkel. On this track, Allen displays his empathy towards good folk melodies and the poetic word.
“First” however, confirms my early impressions. ALAS,THE OCEAN is engraved in picturesque storytelling, which slowly develops track after track. The sound production remains loose, boomy and very live-sounding. Verses and choruses seem to unfold casually in the presence of the listener. All the while throughout, Allen Rapadas continues to develop his simple and enchanting guitar rhythms and colourful lyrics. Almost like a giant spider he weaves his web, enticing the listener into entrapment.
One of my favorite songs on the album, is definitely the melancholic love-song “Tragedy”. The ALAS,THE OCEAN vocal and music arrangements, at times, make their songs sound like fascinating fairytales, taken more from fiction and fantasy than factual events. It is only when you listen very closely to the lyrics, that you understand the often serious undertones and profound statements being expressed by this young artist.
“In My Own Words” is set over an almost esclusively piano dominated chord structure, where Allen’s innocently pleading voice rides in, out and above the mix with his seemingly nonchalant tonality.
“Tacna, Az” and “A Girl I Know” are both offered as free downloads on the ALAS, THE OCEAN website and should be taken advantage of.
“Wise” is yet another acoustic guitar picking instrumental, while the album closes off with the bonus track, “Hey There Feeling Rainy”.
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The ALAS,THE OCEAN EP is an eclectic and intimate collection of personal memoirs by a young artist right in the middle of the all-important, exploratory years. The innocence and frankness of the lyrics come shining through in a project to be contemplated as a bold initiation into the world of recorded music for Allen Rapadas, rather than a definite affirmation, which will almost certainly be expected on the following upcoming albums and works in progress.
If you’re searching for a perfectly pristine sound production or elaborate musical arrangements and orchestrations, you have completely missed the point. The proof is in the pudding, or rather in the pure ground-level and heartfelt content that ALAS,THE OCEAN put into each musical creation. As the saying goes: “Content is king!”
…and ALAS,THE OCEAN have quietly and decisively, started taking steps into the right direction.
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