Update 04/24/03 Thanks to Allan Hernandez for sending me an article of his band, THE LATE ISABEL, written by
Pearlsha Abubakar. I also have here DOMINION's WITHIN THESE WALLS mp3 temporarily in zip format... and I'd like to thank Cris for sending the file. That's all for now.

WITHIN THESE WALLS MP3 by DOMINION! Thanks to BLAKE CHEN at for uploading the mp3! Click WITHINTHESEWALLS.mp3 to download!



Graveyards. Cathedrals. Full moon rising. These are the images that come with gothic music – the heavy keyboard droning out minor keys along with a blood-curdling banshee wail. But for goth band THE LATE ISABEL, these are the archetypal sounds and images they’d rather do away with.

“We’re actually opening up the music and making it simpler. Not ethereal, but mas malakas ang punk element,” explains main songwriter Allan Hernandez. “We’re fascinated with paradoxes,” he says, and his life could be one example. During the day, Allan writes for broadsheets and broad showcase FHM; at night he composes demented poetry heavily influenced by Charles Simic. He has arrived in black, just like the rest of his bandmates: drummer John Pete Agcaoili, a public relations officer for advocacy group PETA by day and an insomniac; bassist and IT major Roval Bacali who is also a family man; and vocalist Wawi Navarroza an experimental photographer who is a deadringer for actress Winona Ryder. With her fuchsia eyeshadow, leather boots and intense mien, the pretty singer recalls Ryder’s eccentric character in Beetlejuice. “Our music is very conceptual. We love images and theatricality, “ she says. To prove her point, she opens her portfolio, a haunting series of black and white photos showing a little girl in various stages of disfigurement.

According to Hernandez, there were others that came and went before Wawi. “We’ve been playing since 1996, under different names - Old World Charm, Madeleine Usher - and we had other vocalists. But with them, hindi kami masyado magka-wavelength. Until Wawi came along,” he narrates. The boys were blown away after they saw her works, which accurately depicted the very concept they had in mind. In fact, they are planning to use one of the pictures, a disturbing composite of a little girl’s face for the cover of their album The Doll’s Head, which is still in progress.

They are such kindred spirits that John Pete, for instance, becomes disoriented, when he has to play with another bassist or another vocalist. “Nag-iiba kasi yung tunog,” he claims. As the most experienced guy in the band, John Pete, who formed a death metal band Allan called Thanatopsy, back in 1992 used to play Club Dredd (“the old Club Dredd” he emphatically declares). But like the rest, he enjoys listening to 80s new wave like The Cure and Joy Division. Meanwhile, Roval, the quietest among them, has named his son Lance Ivo after a goth character. Wawi, who is an unabashed Toriphile, sings in an arrhythmic contralto that matches the dark tranquility of Allan’s poetry. “I love the fact that we can play certain roles when we’re on stage,” gushes the Italo Calvino/Carl Jung-reading former session guitarist of Prominence of Cathedrals. Her highly granulated imagery, drawn from the commonplace, evokes a brooding sense of horror that was achieved without any special effects.

In the same way, Allan feels that goth music doesn’t have to make extra special demands on the listener. “People think our music is snobby and niche. But we think listeners are not taking enough risks,” he says.

So far the group has been banding together with fellow goth musicians like Five Wounds to Enter and other acts under the Subkulture label in order to survive. “Those who do listen and stay in our gigs may not immediately understand what it is,” Wawi explains. “But they appreciate it.” – Pearlsha Abubakar



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