After the remarkable discography of Harry Roesli, Indonesian label La Munai have found another lost gem of vintage pop music from their neck of the woods to share with the world – and the world will thank them for this one, to be sure. Released in 1971 via Polydor Singapore, this was the eponymous final album from Yanti Bersaudara, the Sundanese vocal trio of sisters Yani, Tina, and Parlina Hardjakusumah.
The backing band alone is worth the price of admission, with rich, humming organ, layers of lovely guitar plucking with just the right dosage of shimmering reverb, and here and there, celestial vibraphone. The stars of the show, however, are obviously the three sisters, whose voices charm each on their own, and are delightful in trio arrangements, as on the exquisite “Tekad Pahlawan”.
The melodies are based in the region’s heptatonic pelog scale, not unfamiliar to gamelan aficionados, and range in mood from the playful “Badminton” to the stirring “Bandung” (a heartfelt salute to their hometown, West Java’s provincial capital), and the perfectly sublime “Lembur Kuring” and “Bulan Dagoan”. If this reviewer had to choose one song among the 11 here, however, it would be the light, gorgeous “Leungiteun”, which carries a hint of a Jamaican rock-steady lilt.
Some reissues of decades-old obscurities act as interesting, or at least entertaining, archival material, distorted snapshots of their cultural moment. Others, though, like this one, are marked by a marvelous timelessness, and La Munai honour the music, and reward music lovers worldwide, by keeping these sounds alive.