Music for drinking, singing, and joyful abandon. Genjek is a fairly recent creation of the past few decades. Originating from the north/northeast of Bali, it's now become popular over much of the island. The name comes from the word 'gonjok' meaning 'joke'. Vital to any successful genjek session is tuak - a sweet & sour, milky wine beverage made from cocoanut palm flower. Potent and acidic, tuak is usually served from plastic jugs and consumed at room temperature (which, being the tropics, is not much colder than ones' own body temperature). Often there's some inadvertent dead ant garnish floating in the swill. Similar to drunkenness and punk rock, it's said that the more tuak consumed the better the genjek song. Listening to this tape and not intending any criticism, it does sound like the musician's are more pleasantly buzzed than wasted; it would be pretty tough to keep it together as well as they do if they were completely trashed! Besides, there's a lady singing and she wouldn't imbibe with the fellas.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
In Bali there's a ceremonial repertoire for gamelan called Lelambatan (literally: slow music), the primary purpose of which is for entertaining visiting deities at the temple. Intensifying with an uncanny grace, the super-refined complex structure of a lelambatan composition reveals itself in an almost organic way; articulating a sense of harmony between the human world and the greater celestial dimension. This exquisitely balanced sentiment also works to guide the mortal listener's mind towards the idea of a cosmos beyond while, simultaneously, defining their place relative to it. Yes, it's music for the Gods - but people get something too!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
More interesting music from the Kaliakah village in West Bali, home of the previously posted Angklung Reong. This tape combines solo Kidung Wargasari vocal poetics with gamelan gong accompaniment - a very nice reverent vibe captured.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Awesome followup volume to this mighty tape. Beatific, imposing gamelan compositions for exalted contemplation.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Here's a remarkable tape documenting the mysterious Nolin ensemble from the Pujungan village in the highlands of west Bali. These guys make deeply wonderful music; Kruyuk Siap, the tune that opens side A, exemplifies this - check out the wooden clapper kotekan that appears at about the 9:30 mark! I've searched quite a bit, but have yet to unearth any information about nolin. It would be great to know more. Please leave a comment if you have any info - I'd be much obliged!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Austere recording of the Balinese romantic, quasi-historical kidung wargasari poem. Often heard at temple festivals reverberating from within the structure's inner sanctum, these sustained incantations are performed by groups (like on this tape) or, to different effect, solo. Gamelan accompaniment is sometimes a feature. I first heard this particular cassette when it was being blasted from an old loudspeaker for the benefit of the whole village - it sounded very cool echoing throughout hills. With a little work I tracked a copy down for myself, but have yet to crank it for the neighborhood. Nice cutout artwork on the cover.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Super excellent collection of traditional Isan tunes. Great stuff. Enjoy!
Raw live recording of the popular and operatic Balinese Arja dance drama. Similar to this topeng tape, in fidelity (or lack thereof), as well as having a captivating opening section.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Busy week here for your humble BG janitor, so just a quick post with this very straight forward (but perfectly fine) 90 min collection of Balinese gamelan. Works as a good introduction to some classic tunes.
Monday, May 4, 2009
More music from Western Bali - this time from the Kaliakah village, home of the harsh "Makepung" buffalo race. However they treat their livestock there, I won't hold it against the cool music on this tape - a meditative soundtrack for mortality and creation.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
More gamelan gong gede, this time from STSI - Bali's premier college of the arts. Truly sublime compositions that unfold like stratified mandalas, and effect time for reverence of the deities sacred dimension. There's a second volume to this which is just as good - I'll post that later.
The pereret is a ancient kind of reedy trumpet/oboe instrument found on various islands in Indonesia. Apparently in the West Bali Jembrana district young single men will clime into trees at night and play enchanting serenades on their pererets to seduce maidens from the village for some amorous hookup. They probably wouldn't bother doing it if it didn't work! Here's a brief article in Indonesian that has more of an explanation. This tape captures an ensemble of pererets augmented with suling, a small gamelan, and some occasional singing. Even though they're from the West Bali Batuagung village, I don't know if there's much of a connection with the tree bound fellas described above and the music/musicians on this tape other than they come from the same region of the island. Regardless, the music is very cool and heavy - and, who knows, might very well cast a potent spell on some womenfolk. The pererets themselves saturate the sound in a wonderful way, creating blown out chords that rise from the driving percussion and gongs. Very nice!
(Suling Pereret (B 886).rar - 83MB)
(Suling Pereret (B 886).rar - 83MB)
Friday, May 1, 2009
I purchased this mildly strange album in Bangkok from one of those old record shops that cluster around the same city block (if i remember correctly the street's near chinatown, but it's a large city and it's been awhile.) The music is basically ten pop songs with (what sounds like) children doing the singing over a groovin' 80s backup band. Their influences are awkwardly obvious at times (Giorgio Moroder, Santana, etc.), but they still rock out in earnest. The weird thing is that it's always the kids singing. Perhaps they won a talent contest or something. It's probably all explained on the record sleeve - in Thai. Just so you have an idea of what you're getting into, here's a single tune to digest.
More info in comments...thanks Peter!!!