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Posts Tagged ‘gamelan’

What’s spinning, January 11 edition

Thursday, January 11th, 2001

Wow, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. I got a bunch of non-prog Christmas loot and am only now getting back to the genre that this site covers, which is a partial explanation for that little hiatus. The other reason is simply that I like to be lazy over Christmas break.

For anyone interested, I re-designed my personal home page in my spare time. Probably isn’t much there of interest, but I figured I’d mention it.

So anyway, what non-prog stuff have I been listening to the most? Let’s see:

  • Grant Green - Idle Moments - nice, melodic, accessible jazz
  • Massive Attack - Mezzanine - sleepy yet engaging
  • Mogwai - Young Team - the first track is absolutely stunning
  • Mogwai - EP+2 - truly a work of genius
  • Squarepusher - Music is Rotted One Note - eh. Quite interesting, but I prefer the MP3s I have from Hard Normal Daddy.
  • STSI, Musicians of - Music of the Gamelan Gong Kebyar - not the best introduction to Balinese gamelan, but not bad overall
  • Sun Ra - When Angels Speak of Love - “sounds like a train wreck”, one of my friends said. I like it.

Why do I like Mogwai so much? I think it’s their potential energy, as I’d put it: that is, most of the time their music is simmering quietly, seeming very relaxed yet also seeming on the verge of exploding into a powerful wall of noise. What should be sleep-inducing actually keeps me on my toes more than lots of other music, just because it seems like things are about to blow up. Also, it seems Mogwai are one of the few bands that realize that loud-fast and soft-slow aren’t the only ways to make music: there are a lot of loud-slow parts that seem novel to me. Some of the feedback manipulation on EP+2 - the last track has a particularly touching bit - almost makes tears come to my eyes, it’s so effective. I really can’t explain it… it’s just that some of their pieces (”Yes! I am a long way from home” from Young Team, or “Rage:Man” and “Small Children in the Background” from EP+2) are some of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long, long time. Funny, I don’t find the same joys in Come On Die Young. I’ll have to give it an extra spin to figure out why.

Robert Fripp and gamelan

Wednesday, September 13th, 2000

After the End of the World has a lot of interesting stuff, including “A Lot of Noise With One Guitar”, a collection of articles and writings about Robert Fripp.

I find Javanese gamelan music relaxing and occasionally beautiful, but it doesn’t really thrill me all that much. Balinese gamelan, on the other hand, straight out rawks. We listened to some in my world music class today, and I was struck by how “proggy” it is: lots of dramatic, abrupt changes in dynamics and tempo; extremely complicated polyrhytmic parts involving large numbers of percussion instruments played at insanely fast speeds; and loud, deep bass sounds coming from the larger gongs. This is stuff I really like… I’ll have to explore it further sometime.

I’m learning about world music

Monday, September 11th, 2000

As a nice counterpoint to my recent review of Discus1st, we are currently studying Indonesian gamelan music in my music class (entitled “Musical Cultures of the World”). The text, Worlds of Music by Jeff Todd Titon (ed.), is a great book, providing a satisfying in-depth overview of various world musics - Indonesian, Japanese, West African, Native American, Eastern European, etc. Some of it is actually rather too technical for me, but I enjoy wading through and decoding musical terminology, which is a real challenge for me given my complete lack of background in music theory. is up for auction on eBay. As of this writing, though, you’d have to be willing to part with $10 million if you want it.

I’m really digging Josh’s suggestion of The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency & I. I don’t feel like describing the music, but suffice it to say that it’s very inventive, very cool, very effective pop/emo/whateverthehellyouwanttocallit kind of stuff. Lots of keyboards used quite creatively, as a bonus for proggers.