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Manila Killa debuts his first post-Hotel Garuda project with decisive and masterful ‘1993’ [EP Review]

Manila Killa has released his debut 1993 EP, a project he says has been over a year in the making. The glistening seven-track offering, out now on Moving Castle, comes as the producer’s first since splitting with Hotel Garuda last summer.

Characterized by dreamy synth-pop elements, including “feel good” melodies, retro 80s synthesizers, predominate basslines, and atmospheric breaks, 1993 is a meticulously composed product that proves Manila Killa is a true master of his craft. The EP in chocked full of iridescent flavors, cinematic atmospheres, and airy, featherweight tones that lift listeners into an imaginative and idealistic world.

Spanning a full seven tracks, which is almost enough to compose a full album, the record is a collection of tracks that tell a larger story, taking listeners on a nostalgic journey into youth, love, and finding one’s self. Each track blends seamlessly into the next, demanding attention, and catapulting listeners into his world.

On the title track, Manila Killa relies on submarine samples, climbing synths, chopped vocals, and rising tempos to create a heart-pounding progressive construction. He then moves into “Wake Up Call” with Masionaire’s unmistakable vocals and deeply poetic lyrics guiding the track. It’s an uplifting ballad showcasing Manila’s skillful songwriting abilities. On “ALL 2 U,” guitar riffs drive the forward momentum as Sarah Skinner’s vocals take the wheel, while “Atypical” takes listeners into the EP’s decided middle point.

As the most experimental, daring, and climactic track on the EP, “Run Away” takes listeners by full surprise with its sporadic, yet syncopated electro synths layered cleanly on top of progressive chords, vocal chops, and key-led melodies. “Skin” is a graceful nod to the indie-electronic stylings of Owl City, while the fully instrumental “Midwinter” is a chill piano ballad that guides listeners back down with ease and effortlessness.

Decisive and intentional in its sound design, it’s clear that Manila Killa wishes to venture beyond the future bass sound stamp that has become so bland and watered down. On 1993, he’s begun to align himself with the likes of ODESZA, Illenim, and Jai Wolf, placing his namesake into contention with the melodic movement pioneers. Above all, 1993 shows how Manila Killa develops a deep trust for his featured collaborators. He maintains a careful negotiation between technical sound design and vocalist-led tracks. It’s a statement-making project, to be sure.

Manila Killa will also be embarking on an accompanying national tour, which will make its way through major US markets beginning this April. View the full list of dates below and purchase tickets through Manila Killa’s website.

Manila Killa 1993 Tour Flyer