Toronto kulintang ensemble Pantayo present a bold statement with new album

Photo by Felice Trinidad.

Pantayo‘s second album, Ang Pagdaloy, presents a confident and bold statement from the Toronto quintet. With a sound that reveals a wealth of influences from pop, R&B, rock and electronic, Pantayo explores their experiences as queer diasporic Filipinas.

At the heart of the album is the sound of the traditional Filipino kulintang instrument, which weaves through the album, giving it an expansive, layered feel. Based on a pentatonic sound scale, the kulintang’s intricate rhythms and meditative melodies lend the album its distinct sonic identity.

Percussive metallophones are the highlight throughout the album, showcasing the range of musical styles it infuses far from its Southern Philippines origins. ‘Dreams’, for instance, features slowly moving electronics, ‘Masanguanan’ mixes kulintang chimes with minimal techno beats and ‘Bakal Bote’ is a lovely ambient piece that fills you with a sense of ease and calmness. As the closer ‘Bastá’ shows, Pantayo can go anywhere, with a mind-warping droney sound and restrained electronics. There’s plenty of kulintang music in the world; most of it doesn’t sound like this.

Speaking to Exclaim, the band described the writing and recording process for Ang Pagdaloy as one of refinement, simplifying music and lyrical ideas. “How do we feel about this? If we love it, if we like it, if we roll with it, it moves us, it rocks us, and makes us feel a certain way — that’s the music we want to put out.”

The band cut most of the songs with vocals as part of that process because they didn’t gel with the album’s overall feel. The three vocal tracks ‘One More Latch (Give It To Ya)’, ‘Must’ve Been A Fool’ and ‘Mali’ find the band treading more traditional song structures, imbuing the album with a sense of place and nostalgia.

Ang Pagdaloy”, is an assertive exploration of settling into ourselves, unabashed, with much audacity. We dared to be sensual. We dared to be vulnerable. We dared to be soft and we dared to surrender to the “pag-daloy” (the flow)

Overall, Ang Pagdaloy is a stunning second offering from a group set to make waves for years. With a message of queer empowerment, Pantayo is an influential band that cannot be ignored, and Ang Pagdaloy is a shining example of how to make powerful music out of personal struggles.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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