Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finally, gamelan/metal fusion

I found the above track on one of those music sharing services that the kids were all using back in 2002 after buying (and loving) Dreams by Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Ensemble. As you might expect, it blew my little 19-year-old mind.

It was brash, loud, aggressive and best of all, it prominently featured Balinese gamelan right in the front of the mix. They were just samples and they were used more as a texture than an integral part of the music, but still, it was something.

If you haven't listened to much gamelan, it can sound pretty odd at first, but even as a kid I loved it. I can't remember where I first heard it, but I have vivid memories of taking gamelan music classes in primary school in Jakarta at age 8 and still remember the lyrics to some of the Javanese songs. I even once convinced my parents to let the driver take me to an all night wayang performance, though my hazy memory suggests that I wasn't awake for much of it.

When I moved back to Jakarta in 2004 I started seeing a lot of metal and hardcore music. The scene was very mature with distinct styles to be found in all of the major cities.

Maybe it's just me, but I actually see quite a lot of similarities between the next two videos:

The stop/start rhythms, the shimmering layers of sound, the intense blasts and virtuousity required all made it seem like a no-brainer that someone would be fusing gamelan and metal but I was never able to find it. I heard that Krakatau were doing great work fusing jazz and gamelan but I missed their show in Melbourne before I left and never heard of any gigs they were doing in Indonesia.

Imagine my delight then when I saw a link to Anaking's Facebook page on Rumah Musik Harry Roesli's wall.

You can listen to a few of their songs below. I recommend the second track: The Final of Nowhere. I'm a little puzzled by their decision to sing their songs in English (or Engrish?), but I can forgive them that.

It makes sense that the first metal/gamelan fusion band (that I've heard of, at least) would come out of Bandung. They have, arguably, the best metal scene in the country and STSI Bandung has one of the biggest traditional music student bodies in the country. I just wonder what took them so long...


johnorford said...

I like Anaking. Have you ever heard anything from Seringai? Yet another band from Bandung - really good stuff imo.

John said...

Yeah, I saw Seringai in Jakarta a couple of times. Burgerkill are my favourite Bandung band though.