The Canadian-based Evergreen Club are dedicated to playing original music based on the pretexts of the Indonesian/West Java gamelan music of old. Yet they choose to play new contemporary compositions and mix in traditional works. As you would expect, the result is a rich, vibrant, lively, and living music that has deep spiritual roots, playing upon the wide timbral elements of the gongs, metallaphones, and percussion instruments they specialize in. The octet from Toronto is skilled in more stoic Western and classical disciplines, but play this music with great joy and enthusiasm. They have also been known to use their instrumentation to perform compositions of John Cage or James Tenney, and owe no small debt to the composer who reframed this sound with an American gamelan instrumentation, Lou Harrison. This music holds a consistency that in many ways supersedes strict traditional compositions. "Anjeun" (You) is likely the brightest and happiest, multi-layered piece, while the short, light number "Tina Jandela" (From the Window) and "Arang Arang" reflect the imagery of the cultural dance choreography that usually accompanies Indonesian music. "Jeruk Bali/Kunang Kunang" (Sweet Grapefruit/Fireflies) is as busy, interactive, dramatic, and mysterious as this music gets, while a contrary pacing between wood flute and metallaphones suspends time, wafting through "Sorban Palid" (Turban Floating Away). There's a distinct feeling of democracy here, as no one instrument dominates, save the percussion instruments during the driving "Kalangkang" (Illusion), or the mixing and matching of sounds showcased on the patient and drawn-out "Samagaha" (Solar Eclipse). The Evergreen Club have touched on something utterly beautiful, unique unto itself, and very respectful of tradition, but expanding the ancient music with their arrangements in a way that bears close examination and provides sheer, uplifting delight.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos