Band of the Day

2012.08.30

The Gentle Isolation

Mellow, honeyed indie pop from the heart of the Philippines
Unpack your bags my honey. Let’s stay here for a while. We’ll play our happy tunes with the piano and the guitar.
lyrics from Let’s Go Slow

The Gentle Isolation hails from the Philippines, specifically from Meycauayan, Bulacan, a northern province close to Manila. Despite this, the band’s strongest influences come from halfway around the world in the UK. Most of the band members have played together for over ten years, formerly in a new wave band called Satellite Five, before forming indie-pop focused The Gentle Isolation. The Gentle Isolation have built up a strong local presence, playing at venues in and around Metro Manila and opening for Swedish pop duo Club 8. In 2010 they released their first EP on Lilystars Records, and have since recorded a song for a tribute album to UK band Blueboy. The band is hard at work on their debut album.

The Gentle Isolation is perhaps the sweetest thing to come out of Bulacan, a province near the outskirts of Manila, Philippines, since its citizens made the longest piece of carabao milk candy (202.6 meters long, made with over 1600 kilos of sugar, to be exact) during the Singkaban Fiesta of 2008. Though they originally started out as a new wave act, on their debut EP It Started With An April Shower (released in 2010), the Filipino group flips the switch to twee, inspired by UK acts like Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian. This particular sub-genre of indie pop is known for its innocent lyrics and gentle instrumentation—making the name The Gentle Isolation that much more fitting. The EP kicks off with “Faraway,” which immediately sets a nostalgic feeling of summer love (“summer is over and I want you to stay,” sings lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Ness Urian in her lovely lilting voice). It's anchored by Bachie Rudica's shimmering percussion, and plenty of breezy “bom-bomp-ba-da” backing vocals. As Urian sings, “somehow I wish London was near,” it's easy to relate to her sense of wanderlust, of idealizing a place that's anywhere but here. “Is It Possible To See You Again?” is one of the more rock-leaning tracks on the EP, with Joseph Rovero's electric guitar riffs taking center stage amongst “la-la-la's” and Monach Cristobal's bouncy bass lines. “Let's Go Slow,” as you might imagine from the title, is about taking a moment to slow down and appreciate things that you might otherwise miss out on in a fast-paced life: “come and sit for awhile,” instructs Urian, “let's stare at paintings/and let's go slow.” There's a child-like quality to the way Migz Ezpiritu plays his keys, which only serves to enhance Urian's innocent, honeyed tone. Considering most well-known twee acts have come out of the UK, it might be surprising to hear that a band like The Gentle Isolation is from the Philippines—it's not exactly the first locale that comes to mind when trying to discover new indie pop music. But if this is the start of a thriving Filipino indie pop scene, we'll keep our ears fine-tuned to the sounds from its 7,107 islands.