Oh, Flamingo!’s self-titled debut EP provides a perfect opportunity to discuss the experience of music, for it cleverly, wilfully eschews its conventional operations; one would expect to experience the development of certain sounds (or the absence of sound) over a particular measure of time, but in their first release, time becomes space, or is at least able to graft itself unto it. Let us not venture into the realm of metaphysics, for it would eventually prove to be completely unnecessary, but let us examine how the idiosyncratic sound of Oh, Flamingo! works: it interacts with the space it inhabits, confining the listener within its own dimensions as though she/he were present in the exact moment of the music’s creation. That, perhaps, is what makes the indie rock quartet a phenomenal live act (plus the stage banter is great!); the band coerces the audience into active participation, completely assimilating them into the music.
Their greatest strength as performers would appear to be difficult (if not impossible) to translate into another medium, yet in spite of the condensation that comes with the territory of recording, not much is lost in translation. Their vivacious, hyperactive, almost carnivalesque sound transcends the static compression that is a usual by-product of the record. The EP is one that contains both density and sparseness, making it feel both tight and spacious, simultaneously meticulous to the point of obsession and unhinged to the point of orgiastic abandon, showcasing a broad, curatorial vision usually associated with much longer forms. The pace of the collection ascends gradually from the sprawling opening track, “Inconsistencies” to the final, infectiously fresh “June” before the respite of silence that precedes the heart-rending hidden track, which caps off the collection quite neatly. Oh, Flamingo!, however, does not feel completely symmetrical, and this is by no means a bad thing; several events seem to go off tangent, affording each song a general aura of unpredictable dynamism.
This air of unpredictability that hovers above each individual track is borne out of spectacular musicianship. Billie Dela Paz’s spirited, sonorous bass parts accentuate themselves by way of both presence and absence on songs like “Out” and “Reflections”, wherein the spaces in between notes become just as vital as the notes themselves. the Dirty Projectors-inspired fretwork of both Howard Luistro and Pappu de Leon add texture, emphasis, and depth to their material, which is made most evident in “Two Feet”, where the two are allowed to play both for and against each other and the rest of the group. Luistro also excels as a vocalist, never overbearing in his delivery, knowing exactly when to withdraw and when to soar miles above the mix. Fries Bersales’s drums do not just function as percussion; he seems to make the skins and cymbals sing, harmonizing with the rest of the band instead of merely keeping time. All four seem to have left an indelible mark on their individual instruments, weaving the skeins of their signature styles together seamlessly, and making it all sound so bloody easy in spite of the evident complexity firmly fixed in every single part.
The record, as a whole, seems to be marked with a hint of maturity, which is a word more commonly bequeathed to artists in the middle of their careers, yet the young, vigorous spirits of Oh Flamingo! possess it in droves, making the EP sound like a late entry in a band’s discography instead of a debut. However, the music is still filtered through the kaleidoscopic lens of youth, rendering this collection of songs both self-assured and refreshing, and very much a product of the present, which looks to itself in admiration and to the future in anticipation. Oh, Flamingo! is a brilliant, celebratory announcement of their arrival as well as a sign of even grander things to come. (Itos Ledesma)