Joey Ayala

Lupa't Langit

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One of the few Philippine musicians who incorporates ethnic elements in his music is Joey Ayala. Lupa't Langit (Heaven and Earth) (1997) showcases his intelligent, often exuberant blend of ethnic influences with a pop/rock sensibility. He is accompanied by his backing band, Bagong Lumad.

The music of Joey Ayala features such Philippine ethnic instruments as brass gongs, the two-string lute, and the bamboo flute, among others, which are used with the electric guitar, keyboards, and drums.

Although indigenous Philippine rhythms exist, they are not used in Philippine recordings unless specifically done so by musicologists for research and historical purposes. Joey Ayala's music is labeled ethnic because he uses ethnic instruments and because he strives for a perceived world music sound. Nonetheless, the music is excellent, as heard on the tender, acoustic-based ballad "Barya" (Loose Change), punctuated by exquisite, ethnic-sounding electric guitar lines. "Machine Answering" uses a ska backbeat overlaid by Philippine ethnic instruments and a catchy melody. "1896" features a Spanish-sounding acoustic ambience, and the lyrics chronicle key events in Philippine history correlating to its rule by Spain and the awakening of Filipinos to a revolutionary spirit. The year 1896, for example, saw the execution of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal by Spanish authorities. Lupa't Langit is a fine, enjoyable outing and an important one, too. More Philippine musicians should explore their roots.