Friday, July 16, 2010


A gamelan (pictured left) is an Indonesian orchestra of tuned bells and gongs. And a music box is...well, you know what that is. On the latest (2 disk!) album by veteran New Yorkers Gamelan Son of Lion, John Morton's electronically-processed music box plays a tinkly version of the Beatles' "Yesterday" along with the gamelan. It is, like much of this album, absolutely enchanting. It's unlike anything you've ever heard before, but strangely easy on the ears. The trance-like quality of gamelan music is kinda soothing, even when played at high energy levels.

Gamelan Son of Lion: "She (Really) Had To Go" - This is an excerpt from a 9 minute piece.

The album "Sonogram," on the ever-awesome Innova label, does not feature any traditional music from Bali or Java - these are all new pieces written by the band members that often combine gamelan with Western instruments and styles, which is a bit tricky since gamelan instruments are not tuned to the Western scale. But that's not a problem when your Western "instruments" are found junk percussion objects:

Gamelan Son of Lion: "Bang On A Tin Can"

Other tracks feature Miguel Frasconi's invented glass instruments, clarinet-driven klezmer, an Afro-Cuban-inspired jam, and Llsa Karrer's "River Kotekan" - 2 pianos and 2 voices mixed with the usual shifting gamelan tempos make for some persuasive polyrhythms.

Some parts of their 9/11 tribute had me wincing, and the attempt to mix Scottish/Irish vocals was a bit too "Celtic Woman" for me, but with almost two hours-worth of music here, I'm not complaining. My favorite new album.


Reimer said...

Anything John Morton is associated with is of interest to me. This blog looks grrrreat but I'm puzzled I haven't come across it before, such is the embarassment(!) of riches and such is my all-over-the-blogosphere appetite. I don't know whether to kiss you or tell you to get a life, so I'll merely say 'Thanks'.

Mr Fab said...

"I don't know whether to kiss you or tell you to get a life" Ha ha! How about both? Welcome aboard.