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Datu by Free The Robots

With its roots of inspiration dating back nearly a decade to a tour in Manila, Chris Alfaro releases his latest Free The Robots studio album Datu on vinyl. Referring to the ruler of a clan / tribe in pre-colonial times in the Philippines, it sees Alfaro connect with his ancestry, forging self-made beats with melodic samples sourced from native Filipino albums and field recordings. 

Limited Vinyl LP £19.99 DATU1

LP on Astral Travels Records. Edition of 300 copies.

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REVIEWS

Datu by Free The Robots
1 review. Write a review for us »
8/10 Daoud 22 April 2020

It's disorienting to be disconnected from your roots. To feel as though you’ve lost something, or rather, had something stolen from you. Free The Robots is the name of Chris Alfaro’s hip hop project, from Los Angeles, and with roots in the Philippines. ‘Datu’ represents Alfaro’s attempt to take back what is his.

It’s a marvelous percussive workout, all the tracks are full of energy and life. It sways from the trip hop of ‘Tikbalang’ to the jazz of ‘Nose Flute Jam’, but it’s kept on course by the power of the rhythms. They’re firm on ‘Maranao’, letting a vocal sample that is too fluid to be chopped, slip in and out of the gaps. They sputter in ‘Kalinga’, while a loose bass line glides along.

The rest of the compositions are equally attention grabbing. ‘Tunog sa Lasang’ features some particularly resonant percussion playing over a tranquil field recording, and ‘Garo dai Maagod’ has some incredibly soulful singing pairs with sparse guitars. The aforementioned ‘Nose Flute Jam’, which does what it says on the tin, makes a sick hip hop beat using a loop of a nose flute, some drums and a bass line.

I hope Alfaro found some clarity in working on ‘Datu’. As a listener I enjoyed hearing a West Coast musical sensibility taken to the languages, musics, and sounds of the Philippines we must fight not to forget. But ultimately, it's Alfaro who must have the final say.


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