After the songs of “Limasawa Street” turned into our crying besties, our favorite nine-piece collective is once again giving us chills. But this time, the members are not only our friends who got us during bad days—they’re also out here to help amplify our voices.
On Aug. 29, Ben&Ben dropped its sophomore album, “Pebble House Vol. 1 Kwaderno.” Aside from the band living together in a street named “Pebble,” Ben&Ben came up with the title of its album “one pebble at a time,” which means building a house out of pebbles from the “little things” they made in every gig.
One of the album’s charms is it houses collaborations with various Filipino artists: Chito Miranda in “Swimming Pool,” Moira Dela Torre in “Pasalubong,” Juan Karlos and Zild in “Lunod,” KZ Tandingan in “Sabel,” SB19 in “Kapangyarihan,” and Munimuni in “Sugat.”
Apart from that, “Pebble House” is also an extensive documentation of the members’ collective experiences. “In this album, you will see a sort of a journal, a diary, kuwaderno ng aming mga karanasan, ng mga naisip namin, ng mga naramdaman namin ng buong buo nitong nakaraang taon, at the recent months that we’ve been together,” said lead vocalist Miguel Guico during the album’s virtual presser on Friday, Aug. 27.
(In this album, you will see a sort of a journal, a diary, a notebook of what we’ve experienced, what we’ve thought about, what we’ve felt wholeheartedly this past year, and the recent months that we’ve been together.)
The songs were co-produced by its members, who injected their experiences into the songs. And riding on the post-Buwan Ng Wika wave, the album welcomes us in the “Pebble House” universe with 13 tracks in the Filipino language.
Despite the fun and playback-like memories, the game has changed in this album, too. If it isn’t that obvious, “Pebble House” also serves powerful diversity when it comes to its messages.
“The biggest difference [of ‘Limawasa Street’ to ‘Pebble House’] is the weight of the themes that we chose to tackle here, and the depth of the said theme,” percussionist Andrew de Pano said.
If you want to explore the anatomy of “Pebble House,” here are our top picks from the album that we think tackle strong social topics.
“Sabel” (feat. KZ Tandingan)
Sinubukan ka nilang pilayin
Sinubukan ka nilang patahimikin
Akala ba nila
Hahayaan mo sila?
Two words: Women empowerment. Without any fuss, Ben&Ben’s almighty “Sabel” calls us to grasp the force of womankind. “Para ma-serve namin ’yung song nang buong buo, kailangan namin ng sobrang powerful na boses ng babae, at si KZ ’yon,” the band explained.
(What we needed for the song to be performed at its fullest potential was a woman’s powerful voice, and that is KZ’s.)
In this track, the group utilized body percussions into the song to “help create space needed” for the track’s message.
“Kapangyarihan” (feat. SB19)
Akala n’yo ba, ang kapangyarihan
Ay nasa inyo? Sino ba kayo?
Magwawagi ang katotohanan
Ang kadiliman ay ibabagsak
Nagsisilbi ka dapat
Nagsisilbi ka dapat
The powers that be aren’t welcome in the “Pebble House.” With the intense rap of SB19 and scathing lyrics, “Kapangyarihan” is a true shade at abusing one’s authority.
Kung kayumanggi ang iyong balat
Ipagmalaki sa’n man mapadpad
Pagkapanganak hanggang sa paghimlay
Yakapin ang kulay
Nationalism embodies this album-ender track, as the band hopes to serenade us about our identity. “More than to anyone, it’s a love song to our identity as a Filipino. It’s a love song about the color of our skin,” Miguel said.
In volume one of “Pebble House,” Ben&Ben tells us it acknowledges the power of its art. Vocalist Paolo Guico explained, “We wanted to really come in strong in our goal of letting the music and the art speak to people in ways that words cannot.”
He also added, “It depends on where you’re coming from as a listener, and how you would embrace the message of the song. We always fall in love with that kahit anong theme pa ’yan—especially with the things happening around us.”
(We always fall in love with that regardless of the theme—especially with the things happening around us.)
Photos courtesy of Ben&Ben
Art by Yel Sayo