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RiverMaya Review

by David Gonzales

In 1994, Philippine rock band RiverMaya released its debut album, RiverMaya. Rock music isn't widely followed in the Philippines, though several bands have always kept the faith, but in 1994 rock was becoming popular on a widespread basis, and RiverMaya was to play a large role in its resurgence. RiverMaya is a self-assured debut effort. The band's sound encompasses the blistering guitar riffs of "Revolution" as well as the tender piano of "2:14," and also includes a rousing rave-up in, "Awit ng Kabataan" ("The Song of the Youth"). "20 Million" is an elaborately produced vehicle, containing piano and a wonderful string section (perhaps played on synthesizers, as no string section is credited). The bandmembers are all fine musicians, spearheaded by the excellent rhythm and searing lead guitar of Perfecto de Castro and the tasty, complementary keyboards of Rico Blanco. The singing of Bamboo (born Francisco MaƱalac is also strong, and the fine bass playing of Nathan Azarcon and drumming of Mark Escueta should also be acknowledged. One of the band's strongest suits is its penchant towards melody, as heard throughout the album. For this, the plaudits must go to keyboardist Rico Blanco, who wrote six of the album's ten songs, and participated in the writing of the other four songs. RiverMaya reached double-platinum in sales (80,000 units sold; platinum is 40,000 units), according to the label (there are no album charts or SoundScan in the Philippines), and catapulted the band to the top echelons of the Philippine music scene.

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