Album: Mutatis Mutandis (2003)

Album cover for Mutatis Mutandis by Acid42

“What do you get when you fuse digital with analog? A mess.”

This is my second full-length album as Acid42 and it consists of 15 tracks of electropop funkiness, downtempo chillout tunes, and my first forays into ethnic electronica or ethnotronica.


Mutatis Mutandis is Latin for “changing (only) those things which need to be changed.”

The album was completed over the course of three years (2000-2003) including a six-month sojourn to the U.S. where some of the funkiest and bleakest tracks were made. You can actually see the album’s progress in three phases: Quezon City to Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay Area and back to Quezon City.

This album was originally released on a limited run of homemade CDRs and sold at my live gigs around Metro Manila between the years 2003 and 2006. In fact, the album received a glowing review from a leading daily newspaper.


Over the course of this album, I used a veritable array of software and hardware. Chief among them were my trusty Yamaha classical guitar, my Creative Extigy external sound card, and my old general MIDI Roland JW-30 keyboard, which saved song info onto diskettes!

Then I used a bunch of desktop computers that weren’t mine: a friend’s in Torrance where I was a guest for some weeks, my brother-in-law’s in Fremont, CA before finally getting my very own laptop in 2002.

Additionally, I was experimenting with a lot of software: everything from Acid Pro and Fruity Loops to Propellerheads Reason and Hammerhead.


Here’s the story behind every track on this album:

01 RANCHO CUCAMONGA | August 2002: Ontario, CA
Rancho Cucamonga is a real place in Southern California where some friends live. I made up the silly little chorus while washing dishes one day in the hopes of turning it into some loud, trumpet-blowing, Mexican-sounding epic. Instead you get this zany hodgepodge of organ, chemical beats and inanity, composed with Propellerheads’ Reason software. Vocals recorded into a Creative Extigy external soundcard.

02 ONIONLIFE | July 2002: Torrance, CA
Composed and assembled at Anne and Alvin’s in Torrance using Acid Pro 3 and Fruity Loops 3.5 software, this one takes a snatch of choral singing, and an idea from German novelist Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum and mashes it into a dramatic journey through solace and sorrow. In a chapter in The Tin Drum, people go to a bar in 1940s Europe where they slice onions and cry about their problems freely in the company of other melancholics and victims. A fitting snapshot from my own Onionlife.

03 THE TANGENT OF PERHAPS IS NEVER | July 2002: Torrance, CA
When someone says perhaps, she might mean never. It is sometimes a frustrating experience, replete with non-sequiturs and idle threats. Just like the rave-y melodic line smack dab in the middle of this otherwise downtempo composition. Figuring it out isn’t as much fun as grooving to it though. Composed on Fruity Loops and assembled in Acid Pro.

04 SAKLOLO | August 2002: Fremont, CA
“Saklolo” means help in Filipino. Composed at my brother-in-law’s comfortable suburban house, in the midst of joblessness and scratching my head at the unknown future before me, this was my musical cry for help. Twist the noose round my neck till something bursts. Composed on Fruity Loops with extensive use of the Plucked! softsynth and arranged in Acid Pro. Note to self: I will die in the suburbs.

05 PLUTO PROMQUEEN | July 2002: Torrance, CA
Take a couple of drum loops, run them through effects, then chop them up at random spots and you get the bizarre rhythm loops of Pluto Promqueen, which is an attempt to create an odd-time signature piece with a haunting string melody played in reverse as the motif. Everything about it is alien, isolated, almost insane– pretty much my state of mind at the time.

06 BALEWALA (featuring E-TRINITY) | July 2002: Torrance, CA
One of my first compositions using Propellerheads’ Reason software. This one was raw and unfinished until I emailed it to E-Trinity who added the urban gloss and shimmer to an otherwise sordid affair with the bass frequencies. Smooth and sultry like sunsets through the smog of L.A.

07 BEACH | 2001: Makati
The beach has always fascinated me as the idyllic haven for the weary, also as the jump-off point before being engulfed by an infinite ocean. This piece was composed from a simple 4-chord pattern that was extended and filled out into its current 7-minute version.

08 ABSENTIA 2002 | 1997-2002: Makati
Composed on my old hardware setup, Absentia is one of my first fully electronic compositions songs, here re-arranged and remastered via Acid Pro and SoundForge. Once again, multiple usage of ostinato harp melodies and chaotic, layered drums rule.

09 ETHNICITY | December 2002: Quezon City
Created for a live performance with a group on Philippine bamboo percussions, this piece started out as a 16-bar jam and was eventually sequenced into a full song. The live performance was held on December 13, 2002 at the University of the Philippines. Drum compression and ‘punch’ done by E-Trinity. The droning flute melody is actually an ethnic lullaby called “Uyog-Uyog,” the flute solo is my own.

The performance included world music artists Grace Nono and Bob Aves. Because I was there with my laptop on stage, I ended up playing Grace Nono’s CDR backing tracks via the laptop, even embellishing subtly using my SP202 sampler. This actually impressed Bob Aves who asked for my contact info and would later invite me to join them for performances as their “electronica guy”/laptop musician and backup singer.

10 SHIFT | 2002: Makati
Smooth grooves. Originally done on a hardware setup, and reassembled in Acid Pro. The pizzicato strings give me away. As friends tell me, the minute they hear a piece that is densely layered with lots of harmonies, they think of me. If it has pizzicato strings, it IS me.

11 BOSSA ME AROUND | 2002: Makati
Created at home and assembled at work via Acid Pro, AnalogX SayIt, Hammerhead, and Fruity Loops, this one takes the bossanova beat and mutates it into a noisy, clanging homage to the subtle Brazilian music of Jobim and Gilberto.

12 FORBIDDEN FRUIT | 2002: Makati
Twisted alien landscape of desolation and danger. Taste of the forbidden fruit and nothing is as it once was. Created from Reason, Fruity Loops, and assembled in Acid Pro.

13 ETNIKA MANIKA | 2001: Makati
Originally sequenced in my hardware setup, this one was sampled and assembled in Acid Pro with some parts reconstructed in Reason. A lot of vibraphone and xylophone with looming strings, in a funky rediscovery of neo-ethnic rhythms.

14 HOMAN SIGN | November 2002: Quezon City
Composed with Reason with live guitar parts recorded via a Creative Extigy external soundcard. Homan sign is an abnormal manifestation of the circulatory system, especially for varicose veins. When juxtaposed with a bossa nova guitar line and sounds of the seaside, the idea of abnormality becomes ludicrous. And maybe this is the point: that everything is a matter of perspective.

15 MY SILENT SONG IS YOU (featuring YUMI CALDERON) | Nov 1993-Aug 2003: Quezon City
Composed back in college for no one in particular, this piece lay dormant in my book of ideas until looking for something to sequence in Reason, I came across the yellowing paper that held its lyrics and decided to go for it. One more coincidence led to this version: a chance encounter with old friend Yumi Calderon who was looking for someone to record with. Voila– hip hop beats with a retro synth line, and suddenly I am back, dipping my toes in my pop music roots.


Released: 23 May 2003
Musicians: Lionel Valdellon: keyboards, programming, guitars.
Yu:Mi Calderon: Guest vocals on “My Silent Song is You.”
Cover art by Acid42.
File under: electropop, electronic, worldbeat, breakbeats, chillout, downtempo, electronica, Philippines, California

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