Feb 042012

I first became intrigued with Javanese and Balinese gamelan music after reading about it in David Toop’s exemplary loose-form and well-researched personal take on the Ambient genre, Ocean Of Sound.

As a matter of fact I was somewhat familiar with the sound itself before that. Its influence is evident on the soundtrack to Akira and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (just two examples), and it was also a great ear-opener for early 20th century composers such as Claude Debussy.

Toop describes a gamelan concert as quite different from a “traditional” Western concert. Without a fixed start and ending, people can drift off, chat with their friends, drink or smoke something, even take a nap to wake up to the sunrise, with the music still going on. Your experience depends on mood, energy, and how close you choose to be to the musicians.

That sounds like a rave to me, dude. That’s closer to the whole thing of ambient and techno than to rock or classical music.

It is rather mind-blowing to think that electronic music really has more in common with traditional music from places such as Java and Northern Africa than with “Western music”.

To someone more schooled in electronic than traditional music, this Dengung Bali tape that I’m enjoying at the moment sounds like some minor Boards Of Canada or Black Dog track blown up to a whole aesthetic. I can fuxx with that.

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