Episode III (2004/05) – South Border – Album Review

But since I’m reviewing an album and not singles I can still say that “Bump” is the better made album. Now… Finally, we’re at Episode III. Just a disclaimer, the basis of this review is the Platinum edition that came out in 2005.

If I’m not mistaken, the original edition came out in 2004. They’re pretty much the same, with the original just having more tracks. The tracks not in the Platinum edition are “Ikaw Nga”, (if you know Mulawin, then you’ll know this as well) Sweet, and Wish (interlude). I still listened to the first two songs I mentioned but it didn’t change my rankings so it’s alright.

Let’s go! The only thing I want to pay attention to here is the chorus. I like the idea of the chorus but I feel that the execution can still be improved upon. I’m not saying it’s bad. I just mean that maybe there could be a few additional touches that would make it a lot smoother. If I were to wear the producer’s hat, it’s the chorus that I’d like to tinker with more. 

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The only irony here is the use of English. The tricky thing about the hip hop genre, since it’s origins are American, the only thing that makes it “Filipino” is the language (at least based on what the hip hop artists I know do). But if this was intentional to make it appealing to an international audience, fine then. Anyway, the song tackles the Filipino identity and South Border’s place in Filipino pop music.

This is also the band’s chance to “introduce” their selves again since there is another lineup change. In other words, this is the “Reborn” of Episode III. I can’t figure out if the issue is in the execution or the actual writing of the melody. Considering that the song is sexually explicit, I don’t really feel the sexiness in the melody or maybe I’m just choosy The rap is alright.

However, the accompaniment isn’t that interesting but I think this song has its place like being the soundtrack of an erotic or flirtatious scene. I’ll share my thoughts about these in the songwriting segment. If you’ve listened to the 1996 album and Bump, surely the first thing you’ll notice is Episode III sounds very different.

Considering that this came out in 2004 and the platinum one came out in 2005 there’s a 6-year gap, so there’ll surely be a new influence in the sound. The most obvious is the hip hop influence in Brown Hand Smash and The Show. The RnB and ballad styles are still here but it has evolved into the 2000s aesthetic. In addition, there’s also the lineup change that’s mentioned in Brown Hand Smash.

I don’t know about you but this seems like an indication that Jay Durias is always striving for a better standard or sound being the musical director of the band. The band is consistent with their theme (but we’ll talk about this later). But when it comes to sound, it seems like Jay D. was trying to push it further. True enough, this is what I first noticed when comparing Episode III to the first 2 albums.

South Border’s music developed and matured in this album. I can say that this is the most polished album of the 3. It’s clear that South Border knows what they’re doing. I didn’t notice any screw ups. Yes, even if I don’t like the melody of The Show this is just one opinion about one song in an album with 15 tracks. In short, it’s nicely produced. Let’s check the Top 3 again.

The common denominator here is that it’s about “love”. Actually, most of the song here are romantic in a way. It’s just additional proof that South Border has a knack for love songs. But the outlier in the Top 3, (or among the romantic songs in the album) is Rainbow. Since Rainbow is the most popular song here, there’s a big chance you’ve already heard it. What makes Rainbow different from the rest? Rainbow has a different approach in professing “love”.

It’s not as direct as Too Crazy and Best That I Can because the song is focused on seeing the good side of life and the world. The song is titled as such because of the line “there’s a rainbow always after the rain”. The persona is singing to his loved one for comfort. This is the reason why this became a go-to feel good song. If you remove the romantic aspect in the song you can still interpret it as a simple song about optimism. I want to mention the song “Usahay”.

This song is unique for a very obvious reason: it’s a Cebuano song. If you include “Ikaw Nga”, this album is technically trilingual. Cool right? It’s like Slapshock’s 4th Degree Burn that uses English, Tagalog, and Spanish. My general comment for the music itself is that it’s more sophisticated. The melodies and chords don’t sound basic and generic. The harmonies are well done, especially in Best That I Can.

With the exception of The Show, I understood the general emotion of every song even without listening to the lyrics. To be honest, this is how I judge a song sometimes. If I can understand the general emotion or theme of a song without paying attention to the lyrics it’s a sign for me that the composition is effective. And South Border understands this. Lastly, I can say that South Border still has creativity and originality even if you can clearly hear the American pop, RnB, and ballad influence.

This is not a point of criticism, it’s more of an observation. Even if I didn’t know what year this album was released, I think a lot of us would still think of the 2000s because it embodies the trendy aesthetics of 2000s pop and RnB. Majority of musical artists will be influenced by what is trendy. It’s just more obvious in the mainstream but even indie acts will be affected.

It’s rare to have a musical artist that’s hard to classify by era solely based on sound. Episode III is the most polished and mature album if compared to the 1996 debut album and Bump. This is proof that South Border pushed their musicality and artistry further in the making of this album. I’m giving Episode III If I had a Top 3 from the 3 albums, it’d be Kahit Kailan, Love of My Life, and Rainbow.

Solely based on Spotify, Rainbow is still the band’s most popular song with 48 million plays as of the making of this video. Considering that it’s 2019 and the album came out around 2004/05, that’s impressive! But then again, this came out around 2004/05 and it’s already 2019, does South Border have any plans in releasing a new album? Only God knows. I’m Mikoy and until next time, thank you and long live Filipino music!

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