October 10, 2012

ALBUM DOWNLOAD: Mabuhay Singers - The Last Legends of Kundiman from the Philippines (2012)

No one could sing of joy and fundamental loneliness better than Mabuhay Singers—a group of singers that take kundiman way too seriously, tearing every performance with a show-stopping vocal presence that commands you to sit down and listen, and enjoy them articulate the music of the past with a hand-holding world of their own. To date, Mabuhay Singers has released over a hundred-plus albums of traditional and contemporary Filipino music ranging from countryside folk ballads to love songs and everything in between, reinterpreting these cultural markers with heartfelt straightforwardness and utmost care.

“How can anyone play around with something sacred,” Raye Lucero of Mabuhay Singers once told Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview. What makes her statement soar and punch hole in our hearts is not exactly the serious tone surrounding it, but the eagerness of these vocal pop group to preserve the pureness of songs that define a certain era and feel. And whether you take it as a form of sneer or arrogance, these patrons of kundiman will probably just die one day, smiling in their barongs and sayas holding what’s sacred and dear to them.

That’s Mabuhay Singers for you—a gleeful bunch of torch singers never afraid to relive the past. It’s their chief selling point, anchored with a kind of singing that’s filtered through a vessel of honest hurt and euphoric liveliness. Even renowned experimental ethnographer and filmmaker, Vincent Moon took notice of their talent, eventually featuring them in Collection Petites Planètes, a nomadic label that features a treasure-throve of recordings around the world. Their latest international record under Moon’s label, conveys more than enough raw emotions that take an old song to an imperfect but utterly captivating piece. Backed by just a guitar and random noises in the background, The Last Legends of Kundiman from the Philippines shows the vocal group performing well-loved and lost Filipino classics live and stripped bare to a new audience, with vocal harmonies soaring amidst layers upon layers of emotional captivity. The album is out now here. Download it for a complete nostalgia trip!

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