Asensio’s ‘Matter Over Mind’ celebrates triumph over hurt

Photograph courtesy of IG/Nicole Laurel Nicole Laurel Asencio.

Multi-awarded artist, singer and composer Nicole Laurel Asensio recently launched Matter Over Mind, a musical concoction composed of three vibrant original compositions that seep into the consciousness of a wandering psyche aching for atonement and acceptance.

“As we are blessed with a brand-new year, I am reminded of what it took to get to this point, the hardships, failures and finding the guts to keep going. Thematically, Matter Over Mind celebrates the resilience of human souls who have experienced hurt, God’s grace and the metamorphosis of ‘turning one’s scars into stars,”’ Asensio said.

Matter Over Mind is a play on the popular saying “mind over matter.” The reversal of the words connotes that keeping one’s head up through struggles that is often easier said than.

“This year I feel like a lot of pent-up songs and stories need to be told, while the inspiration is at a fever pitch, it is important to express, produce, create and grow from each artistic pursuit. I am looking forward to releasing more songs, perhaps in ‘suites’ of two, three or more songs at a time to explore more themes. God willing, there will be a full album to look forward to in the coming months too. Till then I am grateful for every tidbit of music that comes my way,” Asensio explained.

The EP opens with a neo-soul-influenced tune with traces of modern and classic R&B.

“Comprehend” is written from the point of view of re-watching your life as a movie and seeing how each character either leaves or lingers through the seasons. As they unfold the multi-layered process of healing from failed relationships, the lyrical expressions and play on words are both poignant and poetic.

A short and sweet reminder to check up on your loved ones is “Vibecheck.” Sung by Asensio, Kevin Yadao and Gabe Dandan, the chords and melody willingly settle in a cradle of gospel influences. The short in-betweener is reminiscent of friends touching base and reminding each other not to worry because everything will eventually work out.

Completing the concoction is an English-Tagalog up-tempo track that evokes funk, soul and jazz influences within its intricacies is “Get it Right.” At first, it may sound effervescent and light, but it is also equally full-bodied as it sings of hidden tears and silent struggles behind the laughter and the longing to redeem oneself. The indulgent thrill of the instrumentation features a full live brass section, soulful piano and Rhodes licks, a bouncy backbeat and a plush vocal section.

“Renowned saxophone player Michael Guevarra did the horns arrangement for ‘Get it Right’ and I did an impromptu arrangement alongside saxophone player Joeffrey Pangilinan for ‘Comprehend.’ “Vibecheck” was written in less than an hour. The arrangement blossomed as we would revisit each track daily and see what we could add or subtract. Because the chordal structure has its quirks and complexities, it was important to pay attention to detail. Nicole then sent it to our friend Kevin Yadao for additional vocals,” Dandan shared.


“The vocal arrangements were done in spare minutes between the busy gig season and late-night production sessions. Gabe and I both agreed to give the harmonies unique colors to add a dose of something different in what may at first seem familiar sonically,” Asensio shared.

The collection of songs all began with impromptu jams with Asensio, Dandan and drummer Nigel Norris setting the tone for the initial jam session. They recorded the outcome in South Bay Studio and Asensio developed her top-line ideas into lyrics and melodies and later recorded her vocals with the help of recording engineer Mikel Miller.

“Mixing and mastering the EP was the most meticulous part, I really felt that this EP was closer to my heart than many projects I have had the pleasure of producing so I wanted to mix and master it myself, even if I was new to the craft. Nicole trusted me and obliged, she was also there for every step and adjustment, I think we work well together, not just as co-writers, but for the entire production and post-production process,” Dandan added.

For Dandan, timelessness is more appealing than trends. An exciting process to see how they can make their own version of the music they grew up liking. Traces of funk, neo-soul, RnB, jazz and gospel are evident throughout the songs, but perhaps what makes its flavor unique is savoring the thematic choices and nuances that unfold with each tune.