An album showcasing two lengthy pieces of work from performances of musical theatre traditions in Java. The first is the langen mandra wanara, a form of light music based on the song of the monkeys from the Ramayana epic. This is performed by the musicians of Radio Yogyakarta to great virtuosity. The backing gamelan is essential for the recognition of Javanese music by the common listener (outside of Java), but the vocals may be a little grating to the outsider's ear in their intentional nasality. The second piece, a demonstration of lighter music, performed by the Pura Mangkunagaran, translates to "diversion for the heart" and is actually intended as an opponent to the first style presented (Yogyakarta and Surakarta being their respective areas of origin, and competitors to one another). The music of this excerpt is similar in many ways to the music that accompanies shadow plays in the same locality. Together, not a bad overview of some of the Javanese musical theatre traditions, but only those truly interested should really submit themselves to the music. Much of Javanese music is something of an acquired taste.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg