The Batak is a people living in the north part of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and some in the nearby island of Samosir. The Batak form a distinct people, yet within their different subgroups there are major differences, in particular in their languages. Although all these groups use the same instruments (mainly drums, gongs, and a native oboe, but as well a flute, a clarinet, and a lute), there are differences too, in particular in the number of instruments and their sizes or shapes. This CD features the music of three Batak groups: the Karo-Batak, the Toba-Batak, and the Simalungun-Batak. Their music is generally played outside for ceremonies, rituals, or other festivities. Their music has intricate rhythmic patterns similar to those found in Balinese or Javanese music, yet are still totally unique and just as fascinating.
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AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes