A very simple phrase that describes the genre, style, and sound of up-and-coming indie folk, alternative rock band Munimuni.
Let’s use these two words to describe the band and their debut EP, Simula.
So what is a makata (English: poet)? As the dictionary describes: ang makata ay isang tao na sumusulat ng tula. Very simple, right? But how does the word actually describe the musical and lyrical style of Munimuni?
Now when you think of a poet, you also start thinking of poetry because, basically, the words poet and poetry are essentially inseparable. And so, when Munimuni describes their music with the word makata, it means that their music should be poetry in essence. And I have to say, guys — the lyrics of Simula is, in many ways, actual poetry.
I think, one of the aspects that makes Munimuni so unique is their lyrical style. In writing the lyrics of Simula, they tend to use a lot of poetically descriptive imagery that captivates, not just their listeners’ ears but their eyes as well.
Whenever I listen to the EP, I literally start daydreaming because of their lyrical style. It always feels like I am actually experiencing the stories being told – just as if I were actually there, experiencing the pain, letting go, and stretching my arm out toward the glorious dawn of a new day.
Another thing to recognize is that the word makata also makes you feel a sense of the past because the songwriters use a whole lot of old-fashioned words that no one, really, ever uses anymore. Lyrically, Simula is surrounded with old-time, archaic Filipino terms. For instance, whoever uses the word marilag anymore? Yet, it’s the title of Simula‘s lead single.
Another thing to recognize is that the word makata also makes you feel a sense of the past because the songwriters use a whole lot of old-fashioned words that no one, really, ever uses anymore.
Munimuni is a gem to be treasured for bringing the modern world back to the golden ages of Filipino artistic poetry. I know only a few artists in the music industry who utilize the classical style of Filipino poetry in their music such as Bullet Dumas and Ben&Ben. Honestly, there have to be more artists such as these guys in the Manila indie scene.
Though Munimuni’s lyrics present a deep, old-fashioned style of writing, their sound remains modern. Really, the word “pop” (which comes from the word “popular”) does describe their sound and genre because they are able to relate to modern audiences. I mean, I know a lot of people from my generation who do not just like but love Munimuni.
Though, what actually makes their sound unique in delivering a strong sense of nostalgia and culture is Owen’s euphonious flute. Owen develops a layer of sonority that doesn’t just add to but completes the whole musical, auditory experience. The flute was the essential aspect of Munimuni that brought me through the world and music of Simula’s narrative.
The band is very Filipino at heart. Their music strongly displays a powerful sense of Filipino culture and artistry. I mean, there is no denying it…
These guys could be the new face of OPM.
They have brought their folk-infused musical style to the modern world whilst successfully keeping their young audiences engaged and absorbed. And, I think, therein lies the artistic brilliance of Adj, Owen, Red, and TJ. Munimuni has done such great work in making Simula, and they deserve so much more praise than what they’ve already been receiving.
While the EP is such a tour de force of pure musical artistry, poetry, and culture, it still felt a bit lacking once the last song ended – as if it were incomplete. It felt like the whole EP was building and building towards an impactful climax, but delivered inadequately.
It did, kind of, reach its emotional peak with the last song Marilag, but Munimuni still left me with a craving for more. The ending was, contrastingly, both satisfying and unsatisfying. And, because of the sense of lack and incompletion that I felt, I couldn’t give the EP a full 10-star review.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. Simula is, indeed, a musical, technical, and lyrical masterpiece. Marilag is also a really, really great song. But Simula is a masterpiece that deserves a better ending than what it got.
It felt like the EP kept climbing and climbing higher and higher but abruptly ended halfway through Mount Everest. It needed more songs to garner more emotion and develop more hype so that, as the record comes to a close, all the emotions are properly heightened as they come down to a full stop and as the music comes to an end.
Yup. My only problem with Simula is the runtime. It was a wee bit too short. And I admit, I may be nitpicking. But in this case, I will defend myself. I honestly don’t care if people call me out for nitpicking because Munimuni’s Simula was so glorious, it did not deserve such a short runtime.
Munimuni’s Simula was so glorious, it did not deserve such a short runtime.
But though the runtime was short, Simula still remains to be one of the most engaging, beautiful musical experiences I’ve ever had, leaving me wanting so much more of Munimuni’s distinctive poetic style. And, definitely, Simula does deserve to be one of my most favorite indie releases of 2017.
Find time to listen to these guys. You will not regret it. Simula does serve its purpose as a prelude to Munimuni’s bigger future. There is no band in the world like Munimuni. And, I heard they’re releasing a full-length album soon. I, literally and honestly, cannot wait!
Simula offers a thoughtful and poetic exposition of the emotions that come with falling in love delivered through an emotionally absorbing musical style that pays homage to the gracing, nostalgic sound of Filipino folk music.
Cover photo by Nukie Timtiman, Second photo by Ram Murro
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