Bullet Dumas EP Launch at Conspiracy Garden Cafe on May 10, 2014
I always compare hearing good music for the first time to that giddy feeling you get when you also meet someone for the first time and you realize within the first five minutes that you want to be friends with this person. To your delight and joy, something clicks, you are grateful there is no dead air and no stilted, anxiety inducing attempts at small talk and there is an invisible vibe that you’re both grooving on. “YES,” you say inwardly, and breathe a sigh of relief that you can actually just enjoy that person’s company. If you are not good at social interaction or don’t consider yourself a denizen of any thriving social scene, this is especially important, because summoning fake energy holds no appeal whatsoever for you. Small talk is time wasted, and time wasted is time you cannot take back. So to find someone you share good energy with is a captivating experience of the first order, and it’s not unlike falling in love. You meet, BOOM, and you are sold within the first three minutes, and you’re sold completely.
So this is how I feel about Bullet Dumas. Or, technically, this is how I feel about Bullet Dumas’ music, since I do not know him personally, separate the art from the artist and all that jazz. Thankfully, I’d seen and heard him before I’d ever heard of him, which was great because I had no context whatsoever, nobody had told me of his history or the hype as Elements Songwriting Camp standout—which, in a way, was a good thing, maybe even the better thing, because excepting the actual output, a musician’s bio data is not important, which is to say that it really doesn’t matter what he wears or what he looks like or where he’s from. All that really, truly matters, in the long run, is the song. It’s the thing that will live forever. So when I did listen to him for the first time, I was, as they say in hyperbolic critic parlance, ‘blown away’. My eyes popped open and I squealed. I squealed in delight and I clapped happily, like a child. “REAL MUSIC!” I yelled to no one in particular, since I was alone. So yeah, I was sold.
I am sure that by the time this article goes to press Bullet Dumas will have been hailed, lauded and accorded plaudits and quotable adjectives that are worthy of his singular talent and they will all be right and justified. But the two things that stuck with me—the things that clicked—-was that 1. here was a man who was so obviously in love with his guitar, he was married to it. You could tell, you could hear right away, that his soul was fused with his instrument. It is literally your first introduction to his music—-swaying, vibrating, sometimes strutting, aggressively confident guitars setting the tone and blazing the way for his staccato voice to tell his story, his plight, his wail, his woe. It is almost confrontational, the way he uses the guitar to shut you up and make you listen. And 2. that voice! We have not heard anyone like Bullet Dumas in a long while. I have been complaining for years that I haven’t really heard a male voice since Cheese’s Ian Tayao or Cosmic Love’s Anton Saldana that got my attention, that made my heart skip. But here it is now, and I hope it’s here to stay.
Bullet’s voice is different, in the way that Bob Dylan’s voice was different, because it wasn’t a belting, smooth-as-silk, pitch-perfect balladeer, pandering to your commercial sensibilities type of voice. Dumas’ voice is nasal, even screechy, and does not aspire to prettiness. He ululates and growls, and I have never heard phrasing quite the way he does it. He shouts, he tells the story in a way that we have not heard from anybody in a long time–with conviction, with heart, and it is noble in its way and a delight to watch. He sneers, ‘Narinig na namin yan, tatlong gabi na ang nakaraan, ganon pa rin!’ on the second track off his eponymous EP, “Galit”, and you believe it. You believe it comes from a real place. He wails, ‘damdamin at isipan na’y nayuyupi, utak bumbilya’y ubos na at pundi’ and you can hear the anger and loaded emotion packed in a tight-rope four-minute lament entitled “Pssst” and it is a thing of beauty. And by the time he scats and yodels on “Ninuno”, you wish there was more.
He is a complete artist in the best way–so complete, I might argue, that you might not notice at first that it is just him and his guitar on the tracks. To say, “Oh, he plays acoustic music,” would be a grave misrepresentation of Bullet Dumas’ artistry. You do not hear the bass, or drums, or piano, or any other instrument on the EP, because you don’t need to. You’ve got a man and his guitar and he has filled up the space, punctuated the silences with masterful songwriting in such a joyful, meaningful way that is a breath of fresh air in this day when the dreaded three words “OPM is dead” is accepted ‘fact’. And of course there is no such thing. Because music doesn’t die. The infrastructure that used to support it might not be there anymore, the business o f OPM is dead- – artists themselves are hawking tshirts instead of albums to eke out a living, yes—but the music? The music lives.
It’s alive but it’s in hiding and you have probably never heard of it because it’s not being shoved down your throat by Vice Ganda every single day on television, but it’s alive, and Bullet Dumas is proof.
So here’s to hoping that fans will make room for Bullet Dumas, and by ‘make room’ I mean accord him the time and the opportunity to hone and nurture his craft further so he can make more albums, as many albums as his talent and abilities will allow. Don’t we owe ourselves this treat? That we encourage and support our own and revive our allegedly dying musical culture through support and patronage? “Pinoy Pride”, right? I hope Bullet Dumas’ music finds a wide audience, I really do. The word ‘original’ gets thrown around a lot and often carelessly these days, but in this case it applies. He is unique and he deserves your attention, and he is worth your time.
I believe in his music so much that I’m just gonna go ahead and test the horse to water make ’em drink metaphor: GO WATCH THE BULLET DUMAS EP LAUNCH ON MAY 10, 2014 AT THE CONSPIRACY GARDEN CAFE, VISAYAS AVENUE at 8pm…ish or thereabouts. See you all there!
Written By: CAMOI MIRAFLOR (Vocalist, Pinoystories)