Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Baleganjur Kreasi Baru Vol. 3 "Candra Wisesa" (Aneka 840)

Great tape of marathon Baleganjur workouts. This is heavy, virtuosic, hypnotic music. The waves of interlocking reyong patterns (reyongan) that these guys play sounds wonderful. Total focus. Curious artwork from Aneka - kind of a faux tear theme going on. 

Thai Boxing Music/National Song/National Anthem (TS-2062)

"Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands, he can fell nine or ten opponents."
- King Mangra

Music from the Kingdom of Thailand for fighting and nationalistic fervor. Connoisseurs of Muay Thai, national anthems, double reeds, circular breathing, and spry hand percussion should check out this one. Great stuff.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thai Classical Music (URT 2004)

More cool classical Thai music, and a good follow up to this post.  Really beautiful unraveling instrumental compositions with tumbling harmonic orbits and cosmic form cycles. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gong Gede: Kembang Wangi - Volume 4 (Aneka 1212)

Here's a cool tape of Bali's largest type of gamelan - the awesome gamelan gong gede. With a repertoire and colossal sound created specifically to call the gods to attention, it exudes heaviness. It also functions as one of Bali's most enduring sonic connections with a bygone era of royal courts and spectacular ceremonies. I'm in the dark about the vocals that show up throughout side A - they sound great though.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tabuh Bebarongan Sakral (BRD: 32)

Very nice album of instrumental Balinese gamelan accompaniment for the sacred Barong dance - one of Bali's most well known dances, famous for the "scene" where the witch Rangda puts a spell on the followers of the Barong, forcing them to stab themselves with their own krisses. It's all very dramatic. Also, here's a excellent and very detailed description of what it's like see to see one of the performances typically shown to tourists and big crowds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Angklung Kebyar: Gambang Suling (Aneka 261)

Nice tape of the seldomheardofftheisland Balinese gamelan angklung kebyar. For some info on angklung in Bali http://www.asianclassicalmp3.org/ has a brief but very nice description here, with some cool songs to check out as well. This tape is just one example of many showing how the kebyar style has inspired all kinds of ensembles outside of the gamelan gong family to shake things up over the years. Cool little obsessive doodle as part the cassette artwork.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thai Classical Music (Golden TS-2038)

Beautiful cassette of classical Thai music. There's Hanuman on the cover, the magical monkey! The B side of this tape is very cool - hypnotic and time distorting cyclic forms. Great stuff.    

Thai/Indian Tape - Hell

I purchased this tape in Bangkok at one of those stores that caters to the monastic crowd. I wonder if it was ever a big seller? The music's Indian, but, with the vibe suiting the artwork, it's obviously not bollywood fun time. To be honest, I don't know if "hell" is really the most accurate descriptor for this, but I'm going with it - seems apt enough. Note: there's only one 21 min song being that the same track appears on both sides of the tape.

Topeng Tugek: Babad Mengwi (Aneka 179)

This is a raw, lo-fi cassette recording documenting a Balinese performance of the venerable Indonesian topeng mask dance. The propulsive gamelan overture that opens side A sounds really great through the murky tape fuzz, periodic mic feedback, and raucous crowd noise. For more info on Balinese topeng here's a good Jakarta Post article from 2001, specifically talking about the humor that's often a feature of performances in Bali these days, and also mentioning I Gusti Ngurah Windia who performs on this very tape.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Langendriyan - Music Of Mangkunegaran Solo II

Gorgeous, wonderfully recorded out of print album of classical Javanese gamelan performing music for the langendriyan court dance. Also a follow up to this.

Langendriyan - Music Of Mangkunegaran Solo II

Suthep Chokhsakun (26 Tunes)

I picked this tape up somewhere in Bangkok, most likely at one of the numerous department stores for university students - those places being pretty good for bulk tape buying. There's some really catchy cool tunes on here, with a few of 'em swinging hard. The singing's nice, and the band's playing sounds on - check out what the rhythm guitar's up to, morphing from traditional guitar duties to gong approximations and such. Very cool. Like Thai shadow music (I'll post some of that later) I really dig the songs that sound like they're more based on traditional grooves, but it's all worth a listen imho. Enjoy!



More info in comments...thanks Peter!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pelegongan Klasik (B 610)

This is a cool tape of Balinese gamelan pelegongan - a antiquated or klasik kind of pentatonic gamelan very closely related to the gamelan semar pegulingan and mostly associated with the ultra-refined classical legong keraton dance (hence it's name: pe-legong-an, meaning "accomplishment to the legong"). Pelegongan was the kind of gamelan that was holding sway over the island during colonial times up until the modern kebyar craze hit the scene and blew many minds. The gamelan that performs on this tape is from the government college of the arts, at the time of the recording called ASTI (Akademi Seni Tari Indonesia) but since changed in 1988 to STSI (Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia). Nice hand drawn lettering on the cover of this tape, and cool Bali Record logo/sticker on the cassette itself.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Original Javanese Music: Sendratari Chandra Kirana/Sendratari Dance Music (KR-022)

A super nice album of Javanese gamelan music recorded in July, 1992 at Pusaka Studio, Semarang for the esteemed Keraton label. Music for gongs, strange masks and cool dance. Been listening to this one a lot lately.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thai Classical Music - Funeral Music (Golden TS-2026)

This intense Thai cassette is a dear favorite, and still leaves me with the same somber feeling that I had when I first heard it - but like my other Thai tapes, I'm pretty much in the dark when it comes to a substantial explanation for the music. It's obviously mastered from vinyl, like many of the Thai classical music tapes out there. Also I was told that it's funeral music, which makes perfect sense. The saturated lament that opens side A sets the vibe with a weeping man's cries of sorrow over the loss of his friend, all accompanied by the piphat emsemble. What follows is a heavy spiral of blown out instrumental music and haunting pi solos - powerful stuff.  Cool open shutter photo for the cover art as well.  I would love to know more about this cassette - if anyone reading this can provide some insight into the story here, please leave a comment - I would be much obliged. 



Peter, the man behind the incredibly cool 
monrakplengthai blogposted this info in the comments:

"i think i can help you out with some context for this tape. you're right about it being funeral music; the style is "piphat mon", derived from the mon people, though now part of the thai repertoire, played (by thais) at funerals.. i'm not sure about historically how it acquired this position, other than through the clearly plaintive nature of the tunes.. this would be interesting to look into! there are no artists listed, only the description of the ensemble as a ปี่พาทย์มอญเครื่องใหญ่ (piphat mon khrueang yai), which indicates the size and instrumentation of the orchestra. this is a really excellent recording, i've never heard vocals like this! thanks so much for sharing."

here is the tracklist:
01. มอญร้องไห้ (mon ronghai)
02. มอญยกศพ (mon yok sop)
03. เชิญศพ (choen sop)
04. มอญประจำบ้าน (mon pracham ban)
05. มอญประจำวัด (mon pracham wat)
06. ธรณีกรรแสง (thorani kansaeng)
07. ธรณีกรรแสง (thorani kansaeng)
08. ดาวทอง (dao thong)
09. ย่าเล (ya le)
10. มอญโพกผ้า (mon phok pha)
11. เพลงแน (phleng nae)
12. พญาแบแล (phaya bae lae)
13. ดาวทอง (dao thong)
14. ย่าเล (ya le)

Thank You Peter!!! 

Best of Gamelan: Slonding 1 - Tenganan (Maharani/Rick's Records)

Totally beautiful tape of the ancient and deeply revered gamelan slonding - also spelled selonding, selundeng, etc. - considered probably to be the oldest known type of Balinese gamelan ensemble, predating the gamelan gambuh. Something else that distinguishes slonding is that it's the gamelan most commonly associated with the present day Bali Aga, original Balinese whose history is one of mystery and geographic isolation. Not unlike how a possessed record collector behaves towards his most precious piece of vinyl, the Bali Aga village of Tengana kept their gamelan slonding secluded away for centuries, only bringing the instruments out for the most important of religious rituals. People couldn't even look at the gamelan without an elaborate ritual undertaken to protect the purity of the instruments. It wasn't until the last few decades that the village made the quite controversial decision to allow the gamelan to be recorded. I wonder what changed their mind? It all seems a little arbitrary. Whatever happened - we can only be grateful - the music is amazing. There's a quality to the sound that's delicate yet enduring - a rippling, shimmering sentiment passed down from antiquity.

Best of Gamelan: Slonding 1 - Tenganan

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tape Warble Ramble

I've always been fond of warped tape sound - it's a feature of the medium. Instead of dismissing the whole package as damaged beyond interest, I usually try to embrace the phenomena in some way if I encounter it. Certainly there are times when it'd be nice to have the option to hear the original recording unaffected. In my experience cassette tapes from the Balinese ANEKA label (a scruffy, slightly awkward alternative to the mighty Bali Record) seem to be afflicted about half the time with some sort of warped weirdness. The cassette pictured above (from which this short gilak tune comes from) is a good example - the entire B side is empty, while the A side warbles throughout. You can also see that the little pressure pad thingy that sits under the tape has become dislodged and free floating - that being a simple fix. Once the tape is stretched though it's warble city all the way. I usually ask the vendor to "test" the tape before purchasing - they don't mind, they know the drill - it's the final quality control check before the thing heads out into the world to be forgotten or repeat itself until it dies.

Sumatra - Musiques des Batak: Karo, Toba, Simalungun

Here's a very nice out of print collection of music from Sumatra's Batak people. Check out the Toba tracks (3-12) - crazy double-reed action and nimble rhythmic play!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kreasi Beleganjur (B 720)

More baleganjur - though with the trendy alternate spelling. Same difference. All throughout this totally great tape Seka Gong Kalingga Jaya play from the heart, with the spoon-bending focus and indefatigable stamina required for the style. Additionally there are several pieces where Balinese Agama Hindu incantations are performed - I'm not sure what the proper name is to describe these - Kidung maybe? It's a profound and heavy sound that brings a quality of strong reverence to the music, and probably not heard much at all outside of the context of a Balinese religious ceremony.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thai Cassette - Klong Yao/Molam (FOUR'S 224)

Unfortunately I cannot speak Thai, nor read it - but I have a good handful of Thai cassettes. It often makes for mysterious listening. The music still sounds great. Molam in particular seems to connect wonderfully with quite a few listeners outside the kingdom. Here's a very nice molam cassette to check out - one from among the seemingly endless catalog of Molam recordings floating around out there. Enjoy!

Turns out that the music on this tape is a Klong Yao/Molam hybrid of sorts - very interesting.
Check out the comments for more...
Thanks Peter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gong Carman Wati - Baleganjur (Bebonangan) Vol. 1 (Aneka 742)

Some very heavy gong cycles and swirling suling captured on this baleganjur tape - or bedondangan, if you're persnickety about such things. Maybe it's the incessant saturation/distortion that makes the ceng ceng sound like mere bursts of white noise or that much of the higher freqs have simply been eroded away - whatever - there's just something about the fidelity of this cassette that compliments the music perfectly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Musiques de l'Asie Traditionnelle: Vol. 13 - Malaisie

Most of the tracks on this French produced comp are excellent, offering up a very nice musical sampling of Malaysia's diverse cultural and ethnic makeup. It's no small feat assembling a collection that attempts to cover such a broad spectrum of music - however, what really makes this record superlative imho is the Sabah and Sarawak tunes that wrap up the B side. The funky, tumbling rhythms these guys play on their gongs out there in the Borneo jungle totally delivers the cool, intense vibe you'd expect. It's a minor bummer that the tracks aren't longer - brevity does not behoove this kind of music.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Genggong Volume One (Maharani/Rick's Records)

Genggong cassette from Bali - not just for old people and children. 

Signs of Life

I've started this blog to share sound that is beautiful, arcane and worthy of some posterity. 

I hope you enjoy!

Music Of Mangkunegaran Solo I

Phenomenal Japanese produced out-of-print gamelan recording documenting music from the Istana Mangkunegaran - the Royal family from the north of Solo.
Truly cosmic music if there ever was any.