Have you ever stumbled upon an independent musical act so good that you kind of want them to remain a precious little secret, but at the same time, you also want them to be exposed to other people who have discerning taste in music like yourself? Well, this writer has had the pleasure of encountering such an extraordinary find in the form of Womb—a local trip-hop trinity that has finally given birth to their much-awaited full-length debut album, “Anesthesiac”.
Composed of Fender Figuera (synthesizers + electronics), Anthony Uy (guitars + keyboards), and Chai Fonacier (lyrics + vocals), the trio stands apart from the other bands populating Cebu City in that they are making their mark through the genre of trip-hop and chillout music rather than the typical alternative rock, ska, or reggae that is common in the Philippine music scene. Comparisons may be made to foreign downtempo acts such as Portishead, Massive Attack, Télépopmusik, Zero 7, or How To Destroy Angels, but the sound of Womb is distinctly their own while managing to exude an international flavor to their music.
What started out as a humble gathering of talented individuals united in their shared love for moody and sultry music evolved into something serious and worthwhile that the band has amassed a cult following in the Queen City of the South. Womb is certainly a breath of fresh (and unmistakably cool) air given that the trio have been around the local scene performing in bar gigs, special shows, and music festivals such as Fête De La Musique; fervently showcasing their preferred style of music to audiences unfamiliar with the downtempo sound.
With the release of “Anesthesiac”, Womb has proven that they are a force to be reckoned with. A low-key but well-attended album launch party at the swanky Gilt Artisan Lounge provided the perfect venue for the band to present the delicious fruit of their labors. Performing with live arrangements, Womb draws the listener in with a refined touch, and they wisely applied such an ability in a recorded format. In the ten songs that comprise this tight collection, the trio has created a sonic landscape fitting of the album’s title: tuning in to the record feels like you have been heavily sedated—but in a good way. It’s the kind of music you want to play during moments of introspection, as the album delivers a melancholic duality that dances between twinkling lights and slinky shadows. Ultimately, the strength of “Anesthesiac” lies in the fierce lyrical stylings of Chai as she adroitly weaves her nymph-like vocals with the brooding electronic soundscapes created by Fender and Anthony.
Womb has achieved that precious rarity in a debut effort that there are virtually no filler songs in “Anesthesiac”—from start to finish, you’d be hard-pressed to find a song that merits the push of the Skip button. The first single off the album, “Good”, is actually one of their classic tracks that they have created during the early years of their formation. Even in a polished studio version, the song still manages to enthrall with a demanding subtlety that is the hallmark of a decent trip-hop venture. “I Miss You” and “Skin” round up the band’s earlier works added to the album to give a sense of familiarity to Womb’s loyal fanbase who have enjoyed such songs in a live setup.
As for their new material, they are nothing short of luminous. On tracks like “Aftertaste” and “10-Second Forever”, Chai muses about the darker aspects of a complicated love underscored by glitching synth beats, forlorn electric guitars, and wistful keyboard notes. And on “Rear View”, Anthony and Fender flex their sonic muscles to incorporate minimalist dubstep elements to perfectly match the seductively robust vocals of Chai as she paints a striking image with poetic lyrics such as: “I don’t understand / How something so fiery and grand / Could fit in a box so small.”
Oozing with a beautiful and haunted quality that brings to mind the labyrinthine recesses of an emotionally complex individual, the welcome birth of “Anesthesiac” is a testament to the musical prowess of Womb, and offers an exciting glimpse of a possible younger sibling to follow in its wake.
“Anesthesiac” is physically released through Womb’s independent music label, 22 Tango Records, and will be digitally released through iTunes, Bandcamp, Google Play, and Amazon.
Womb is composed of:
Chai Fonacier – lyrics, music, vocals
Fender Figuera – synthesizers, electronics, music programming, arrangement
Anthony Uy – guitars, keyboards, music programming, arrangement
01. Anesthesiac [instrumental]
03. 30th and 1st
04. I Miss You
05. 10-Second Forever***
06. Bad Sunday
07. Rear View***
10. Sleepy Head
***Must-Listen Top Picks
For more information on Womb, please check out the following links:
Photos courtesy of 22 Tango Records and Womb.