In line with its brilliant instrumental textures and otherworldly sound, Balinese gamelan music is played in a variety of contexts and scales. Resplendent in an array of drums, flutes, gongs, finger cymbals, and metallophones (a xylophone-like instrument made up of brass and bamboo), the most recognizable of gamelan ensembles is heard on the "Gamelan Gong Kebyar" track that opens this fine Nonesuch recording. Other styles are featured throughout the collection, ranging from the simple Jew's harp and drum cut "Sekehe Gengong" and metallaphone-only "Ansarun," to the 200-strong male chorus heard on "Ktjak Dance." And even more variety is on display thanks to the beautiful solo vocal piece "Lullaby" and the frenetic percussion workout "Barong Dance." Reflecting the rich ensemble variations, most of these pieces are used as accompaniment to a host of events like festivals, dances, mythological commemorations, and shadow plays. One of many groundbreaking field recordings put out by Nonesuch, Music From the Morning of the World is stock full of incredible tracks from one of Southeast Asia's most intriguing musical cultures.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook