Volume 13 of the Folkways collection Music of Indonesia, Kalimantan Strings is an exposition of the stringed instruments of the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. The album covers six ethnic groups: the Kayan Mendalam from West Kalimantan, the Ot Danum from West Kalimantan, the Ngaju (who believe they are descendants of the Ot Danum) from Central Kalimantan, and the Kutai, the Kenyah Lepoq Tau, and the Kenyah Umaq Jalan, all from East Kalimantan. The stringed instruments vary from sapes, which are vaguely boat-shaped lutes, to the fiddle rabap. As a special treat, Syaer Sua is present on this album, the best active karungut singer. Further on, Sawiyah plays her gambus (plucked lute) with amazing skill, and the Eastern sampeq is played with virtuosity by various musicians in duets. These sampeq duets are actually somewhat contradictory to themselves, as they are dance tunes that aren't used for dancing (too long for dancers, they get tired). Overall, the music is rather exceptional, in that Folkways generally keeps it authentic, and it is enjoyable musically as well. If a listener has an interest in Indonesian music (other than gamelan), they should find this recording quite pleasant.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg