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Album Review

Gamelan — it's not just for Java anymore. There are several Western groups creating new works for gamelan orchestras, but Canada's Gamelan Madu Sari do one of the most interesting jobs of fusing the heart of Javanese gamelan music with Western sensibilities. Some of the music here was created for shadow plays, although it exists wonderfully on its own. Most interesting, though, are the vocal pieces. English words juxtaposed with gamelan can seem out of sync initially, but soon take on a soothing, dreamlike quality, especially on the shifting, lengthy "Bonessongs." There's a variety of composers, each bringing something different to the ensemble and offering real changes from track to track. There's plenty of time for the music to be explored (the shortest cut is over five minutes), and to introduce surprises. It's not music for casual listening, but something to sink into, complex and inviting, and utterly absorbing.

Hive, Gamelan Madu Sari
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