Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Suarasama's Tour of Indonesia

Review by Richard Gehr.

My favorite Indonesian album? Thanks for asking. That would be Music From the Outskirts of Jakarta: Gambang, Komong, part three of ethnomusicologist Philip Yampolsky's marvelous 20-volume Smithsonian Folkways series dedicated to the country's music. Another fave is the series' final installment, Indonesian Guitars, whose gorgeous seven-minute closer, Suarasama's "Fajar di Atas Awan" ("Dawn Over the Clouds"), happened to kick off the ensemble's 1998 Radio France Internationale debut, which Yampolsky recorded and Drag City is releasing here for the first time.

There's no such thing as purely "Indonesian" music, insofar as the world's fourth most populous nation consists of some 300 ethnic groups inhabiting 3,000 islands spread across a vast archipelago.

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