Living Art, Sounding Spirit: The Bali Sessions
Rykodisc (

If you think that Gamelan Gong Kebyar and Kecak pretty much sum up the state of music in Bali, then this three-CD set is for you. Producer Mickey Hart deliberately avoided the road oft traveled and has provided us with vistas of the wonderfully heterogeneous soundscape of Bali. The first disc surveys traditional Gamelans: Selonding, an ensemble with iron gongs, the oldest (pre-Hindu) and most sacred on the island; Gong Suling, with end-blown flutes, an informal ensemble played for entertainment; Genggong, with sugar palm leaf jew's harps, often used for plays and dances about frog characters; and Jegog, an ensemble of bamboo idiophones found only in a few villages in westernmost Bali, played at water buffalo races. Featured on the second disc are Gamelan Joged Bumbung, a twentieth century ensemble composed of bamboo xylophones, flutes, drums, cymbals, and a small gong, used for social dancing; and a Kecak (chant chorus) performance accompanying the telling of The Abduction of Sita. The third disc contains three contemporary compositions, each with distinctively nontraditional elements such as polyphonic singing, but with roots firmly planted in the Gamelan styles of the past. The recording quality is excellent and the liner notes are decent. If you have only one album of traditional Balinese music and wish to hear more, this compilation is a great choice. - John Cho

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