Freestyle

Freestyle

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In 1998, this Philippine R&B-slanted band released their debut album Freestyle. Despite the presence of female vocalist Jinky Vidal, most of the vocals are handled by male singer Totop Suzara, the creative force behind the band, as he also composed and arranged most of the music, and plays guitar as well. Freestyle's sound is smooth and soulful -- likely influenced by another Filipino R&B-styled group, the popular South Border. Significantly, Jay Durias, the creative force behind South Border, lends his arranging talents to three songs on Freestyle. "Goodluv" opens on sensuous wah-wah guitar (invoking a touch of the 1970s), and then grooves on a forward-moving rhythm similar to the soul-styled grooves of such soul/acid jazz bands as Incognito. (Acid jazz is a broad term encompassing many sounds, and soul-styled singing is one of them). "Goodluv" also includes a rap.

Many songs on Freestyle move at a slow pace, invoking a silky, sensuous feel. "Not that Easy" utilizes a minimum of chord changes, relying mostly on a continuous, back-and-forth chord pattern. The song also includes a fine, jazz-inflected piano solo. The abundance of slow material, however, contributes to a stifling musical sameness; the album would benefit from more variety.

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