Various Artists

Explorer Series: Bali - Music From the Morning

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If you want to hear the real sound of Bali, this is the place to come. There's plenty of gamelan music, such as the wonderful opening track, where the metallophones create a wild sound that's far removed from the serene image of gamelan music. But Balinese gamelan has always been more energetic, as a listen to "Barong Dance" readily shows. However, there can also be spontaneity in Balinese music, like "Sekehe Genggong," where a jew's harp harshly cuts in to lead the melody, or the simplicity of an unaccompanied voice on "Lullaby." These field recordings from 1966 highlight the fact that making music was a way of life for villagers in Bali. They weren't professional musicians; playing was simply a part of what they did in their lives, reflecting a spiritual aspect. Especially thrilling is the excerpt from "Ketjak Dance," or monkey dance, where massed male voices chant, imitating the chattering of monkeys. It's startling in how it shatters the silence, and it's remarkably animalistic. The disc closes with music for the Balinese shadow play, sweetly ringing and haunting with suspended tones; rapid but ghostly, it's a message from another dimension.

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