Thursday, January 19, 2012

CD Review: I Made Arnawa & I Dewa Putu Berata's 'Returning Minimalism: New Works For Balinese gamelan gong kebyar'

I Made Arnawa & I Dewa Putu Berata
Returning Minimalism: New Works For Balinese gamelan gong kebyar
Vital Records

I Made Arnawa and I Dewa Putu Berata are two musicians that make up the Seka Gong Taruna Mekar and Cudamani Ensembles from Bali, Indonesia. Returning Minimalism... is an extension of Terry Riley's 1964 work, "In C", a pivotal piece--and arguably the first minimalist composition. Track one, "In Deng," by I Made Arnawa, is a twenty-four minute composition that includes gamelan instruments, such as reong, trompong, gangsa, suling, jublag, jegogan, gong, kempur, and kenong. The metallic overtones are arranged in a fast-paced rhythm with shimmering gamelan sounds that mimic a metal balafon or vibraphone with starkly, higher-pitched sounds. The music is instrumental and it takes on a new approach to performance, since the album accentuates improvisational and creative energies that defy traditional modes. "In Ding" is the second and final track, but it is performed by I Dewa Putu Berata. This track was mostly instrumental, except for vocal accompaniment by Emiko Saraswati Susilo. "In Ding" was more improvisationala range of one tone. The crystal clear tones of the gamelan instruments are iconic, trance-inducing, and meditative. The music is ideal for Balinese musical studies and graduate students with a background in musical notation. Extensive liner notes are included in English. ~ Matthew Forss  

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