JACK OF NONE is an experimental rock / art band split between Manila, Philippines and Chicago IL, USA. It is comprised of siblings A.G. Syjuco (principal composer on guitar, bass and synths), Maxine Syjuco (poet-songwriter and vocalist), and Julian Syjuco (guitar).
The band's debut album, "Who's Listening to Van Gogh's Ear?" was released globally in April of 2016. It is being described by critics as "haunting and thought-provoking", "a brave new day for OPM (Original Pilipino Music)", "progressive and bold" as well as "an odd, fascinating combination of poetry, art, and rock into a satisfying whole".
MAXINE SYJUCO is a poet and visual artist from Manila, Philippines. She is the youngest daughter of artists Cesare Syjuco and Jean Marie Syjuco.
Working mainly with photography, digital collage, painting and installation art, her work "possesses an intimate, philosophical, and often twisted voice in storytelling. Manipulating faces, unveiling poignant surrealities, and probing into abandoned rooms of the subconscious, Maxine authors dark, thought-provoking introspections of the human condition and its fragility -- conjuring a netherworld where ghostly images exist neither here nor there."
Her first book of poetry, "A Secret Life," was published in 2008 and received critical acclaim. Her poems have been translated into Polish and French, and have seen print in several international anthologies including the Asia Literary Review, The Poet's Guild Quarterly, Chopin with Cherries, and the 2011 Rhino International Poetry Anthology.
Maxine's exhibits and poetry-performances have taken place in venues as varied as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Tokiwa Museum of Japan, the Hangaram Museum of Korea, the Art Takes Miami Exhibition in the U.S.A., and others.
A.G. SYJUCO is the eldest son of artists Cesare Syjuco and Jean Marie Syjuco.
At age 15, he was the lead guitarist, composer and arranger for FAUST!, an art-rock band of prodigious siblings that was discovered by MTV Asia in 1996, quickly signed to a major label, and disbanded 2 years later after releasing 2 controversial albums that included the historic "My Secret Identity" (MSI) in 1998 -- probably the first full-length album in the Philippines to be released for free on the Internet by a group of commercially signed recording artists. Abandoning his professional interest in music for the next eight years, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology from San Beda Alabang, and presently holds a management position in a multinational tech conglomerate.
His more recent musical endeavors include co-producing his Father's critically acclaimed album, "A Sudden Rush of Genius". On Jack of None's "Who's Listening to Van Gogh's Ear" he acts as principal composer, guitar player and producer.
A.G. currently resides in Chicago IL with his wife, Mica, and their daughter, Muli.
JULIAN SYJUCO is the youngest of five children of Cesare Syjuco and Jean Marie Syjuco. He is both an accomplished painter and electric guitarist of note.
He was recently singled out as one of the bright up-and-coming new generation abstractionists, and was featured in the National Artist Jose Joya Retrospective in 2012.
JACK OF NONE - “Who’s Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear”
by Lorraine Vergara
by Lorraine Vergara
JACK OF NONE is a band that marches to the beat of a different drum -- its own.
The trio of siblings’ self-produced debut album “Who’s Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear” is chock-full of tight, riff-heavy tunes and trance-inducing soundscapes that are familiar in structure, but sound like nothing in the market today. Some might suggest it’s their minimalistic approach to experimentation -- often introducing subtle nuances, clever transitions and unexpected twists between parts of the same track. Others might argue that it’s Maxine Syjuco’s use of the spoken word and her unique brand of haunting, (at times) unnerving poetry and storytelling. It’s most likely all of these things that make the band so undeniably different; their album, a true landmark in the Philippines' independent music scene.
Musically, many of the tracks seem to sit somewhere between the alt-metal, industrial rock and post-punk genres – an odd shade of gray they’ve claimed as their own. Of course, there’s good and bad in that. On the one hand, the small but loyal following they’ve gathered recognizes the brilliance and ingenuity of their work -- putting them at the forefront of the avant-garde. On the other hand, the band may find itself on the outside-looking-in; with a sound that’s neither pop, nor the established “alternative”.
They don’t seem bothered in the least about the latter.
“We’ve never had delusions of grandeur. We never thought we’d become The Beatles or anything like that,” says A.G. Syjuco, the eldest of the siblings and the band’s principal composer and producer.
“What you hear on the record is what happens when you put the 3 of us together. We never sat down and decided to form an art band, or listen to a track and go ‘It isn’t weird enough!’ We just wanted to make music together and this is the result. We like to think there’s a kind of synergy there where the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts, but we’ll let the listeners decide.”
Still, there are undoubtedly many obstacles for the band to overcome, despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews the album has garnered so far from critics and fans alike. This is further exacerbated by their inability to promote the record with live performances. Geographically, they couldn’t be farther apart. A.G. currently resides in the United States' mid-west, while Maxine and Julian live in Manila, Philippines.
“There are definitely hurdles, but that’s what’s been driving this project from the get-go. It’s a challenge to us. We want to pave our own path and figure it out,” A.G. continues.
“I’ve been sensing a lot of doom-and-gloom from industry insiders with all the digital disruption going on. You have social media promotion and streaming services to contend with, and musicians are forced to re-think what it means to ‘make it’ because the old formula of playing shows and getting signed no longer seems to apply. That’s exciting to us! ”
Indeed, there’s plenty to be excited about with the release of “Who’s Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear”.
As a fan and critic, the album is truly a breath of fresh air -- a welcome relief to the drudgery of the tried-and-true in an industry that seems almost lost-at-sea. As a casual observer, I’m dying to see where it all goes from here!
Check out "Who's Listening to Van Gogh's Ear" by Jack of None from one of the links below:
Bandcamp - jackofnone.bandcamp.com/album/whos-li…van-goghs-ear
iTunes - itunes.apple.com/us/album/whos-li…ghs/id1104088299
Google Play Music - play.google.com/store/music/album…muakkmpage3k25pry
Amazon Music - www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ED0…lbums-bar-strip-0
Spotify - play.spotify.com/album/5uB2quuKBt…&utm_medium=open