Photo: Brendan Goco

Los Angeles’ Free The Robots will release his next full-length album, Datu, via Astral Travels in November.

The road to Datu‘s creation goes back almost a decade, with the first seeds planted during a tour in Manila. Since then, FTR, real name Chris Alfaro, has been going down wormholes trying to learn the history of a culture so foreign and stripped away from the 21st-century viewing lens. Behind the album is a powerful psychedelic experience.

“I watched as my body vaporized into another dimension,” FTR explains. “Like a cannonball, my consciousness shot through my bloodline and I found myself amongst an indigenous tribe in a rice field/jungle where I was able to spend time communicating with strangers who may or may not have been my actual ancestors. Without words, what I took from the experience, I can’t explain.”

In light of this, FTR moved to the island of Siargao, Philippines four years later, staying there for a few months. Datu was then conceived in a hut across three days, utilizing a barebones studio setup with the beach right outside.

Aside from added drums, all of the melodic and rhythmic samples used across Datu are sourced from native Filipino albums and field recordings. FTR blended his compositions around these sample frameworks, and then named each track according to the samples used and the many languages of the Philippines.

Alfaro, a Filipino American musician, producer, and entrepreneur from Santa Ana, California, started Free The Robots as a side-project in 2003 while also playing with different bands, producing MCs, and DJing. With the use of samples, controllers, and other live instruments, he creates a balance between the sounds of the past, present, and future. Infusing jazz, hip-hop, and psychedelic sounds, he has released six albums and 12 EPs.

“‘Datu’ is the name given to the ruling head of a clan or tribe during ancient, pre-colonial times of the Philippines. Colonization, cultural amnesia, and the reshaping of Philippine culture throughout generations have me and countless others almost completely disconnected from our roots. With no knowledge of what stories exist in the physical reality of my bloodline, the concept behind this album is my way of reconnecting with my ancestry in the spiritual realm of the creative flow state.” — Free The Robots


01. Maranao (Southern Version)
02. Bamboo Buzzer
03. Forest Sound
04. Garo Dai Maagod
05. Magarib
06. Kalinga
07. Kulilal
08. Ulibao Jaw Harp
09. Nose Flute Jam
10. Manisi Song
11. Kagul
12. Pastas Post

Datu will release across digital platforms November 7 via Astral Travels. Meanwhile, you can stream the album’s lead single, “Magarib,” HERE.