Pantayo: Pantayo | Review

Pantayo: Pantayo | Review

In the southern Philippines, kulintang music is played by multiple Indigenous groups, including the Maguindanoan and T’boli peoples, during ceremonial and everyday events like weddings and village homecomings. Named after its main instrument, a set of eight knobbed gongs laid on a wooden rack similar to a xylophone, it’s often accompanied by other gongs (gandingan, sarunay, agung) and a drum called a dabakan. Traditionally considered a women’s instrument, kulintang ensembles in the country today include both men and women. When the music was introduced to North American audiences in the 1970s and ’80s, though, it was played primarily by male artists like Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan and Usopay Cadar. For the Toronto-based all-women collective Pantayo, who describe themselves as “lo-fi R&B gong punk,” kulintang is a vehicle for exploring their identities and experiences as queer diasporic Filipinas. The group’s five members—Eirene Cloma, Michelle Cruz, Joanna Delos Reyes, and sisters Kat and Katrina Estacio—switch between instruments and share vocal duties, delivering lyrics in English and Tagalog. Produced by alaska B of Canadian operatic rockers Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, with whom Pantayo previously collaborated on the soundtrack to the 2016 indie game Severed, the quintet’s self-titled debut is the result of several years spent honing their sound in Toronto’s arts centers and music venues. Blending atonal traditional percussion, electronic production, and Western influences including synth-pop, R&B, and punk, these eight tracks are joyful, resilient, and wholly contemporary. In the hands of lesser musicians, the hybrid of styles might come ...
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