The Spinners

♪ Ambulansya (Rivermaya, 2000) ♪

In Alternative Rock, Ayer Arguelles, Dodo Dayao, OPM, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:30 am

Arguably one of Rivermaya’s best compositions, “Ambulansya” joins a handful of Filipino songs which, to this listener, have thus far succeeded to dramatize or enact the experiences “captured” in their lyrics. For it is one thing to put an experience into a song and it is certainly another to have that experience come to (another) life through music. In the case of the latter, the song essentially becomes music and not merely an uninteresting combination of sounds and words. It becomes an experience in itself.

“Ambulansya” begins very slowly. With just the synths and piano alternating rather forebodingly in the background, the song sounds as though it does what it says in the opening lines: hindi na tayo gagalaw / hindi na tayo aabante. It does not seem to proceed at all. Vital to this tempo is Rico Blanco’s vocals delivered deliberately strained like it is coming from a place so deep it could hardly surface. Yet the song goes on until it reaches the line ayan naririnig ko na sa hangin / sirenang sasagip sa atin and we hear the continuous wailing of an ambulance’s siren creating an ominous vibe.

This slowness breaks into singing of what seems to be frantic utterances. It reaches a significant turn in the lyrics’ final stanzas, in which the narrative of the tragic road mishap is implied (hesusmaryosep / sa gitna ng kalsada / eighteen-wheeler ang nakabalandra / tapak ng preno / tapakan mo). The second and third voices in this part effectively evoke what might have been the drama of high and mixed emotions present among those who have been unfortunately involved in car crashes. Then it’s back to slowness again as the song comes full circle by repeating the line hindi na tayo gagalaw in closing, only this time hinting at a darker note.

– Ayer Arguelles

A young man lies in the wreckage of his car, his probably-dead or most-likely dying girlfriend in his arms. The suspenseful ticktock piano. The frankly beautiful but traumatic melody. The blood. The gore.  The sound of Chuck Palahniuk fronting Radiohead.

– Dodo Dayao

  1. Its one of my favorite old Rivermaya song which never fails to remind me of the J.G. Ballard novel, Crash minus the perversity in the novel. I think Rico Blanco just sounds perfect in this song. Gives me the creeps to imagine the scenes in this song.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: