Monday, March 23, 2009

Electric Junkyard Gamelan

Electric Junkyard Gamelan are a veteran quartet that build their own fanciful instruments and play fun, accessible original compositions on them. It's largely the project of New York madwoman Terry Dame who was initially inspired by Indonesian gamelan music. While some of their songs do indeed resemble the hypnotic percussive melodies of a Balinese/Javanese gamelan orchestra:
Electric Junkyard Gamelan: The Nutbutter Challenge

...other tunes definitely strike out into new, distinctly urban American directions, like this funky jazzy groover:
Electric Junkyard Gamelan: Ode to Fred Beans (excerpt)

Instruments are "fashioned from coat hangers and rubber bands, bed frames, old farm equipment, turntable platters, clay pots, saw blades and truck springs." The "Big Barp" rubber-band harp makes a particularly unusual sound:

Electric Junkyard Gamelan: The Big Barp
They have some mp3s and videos on their site, as well as
two albums for sale.Too bad they don't seem to get out to the West Coast. You Easterners are lucky - they play a lot. But don't cry for me Argentina, there's plenty to do here in Los Angeles, including the return of the annual Microfest, a series of concerts featuring microtonal music. Can't tell if Electric Junkyard Gamelan uses microtones - that realm of infinite possibilities in between the standard Western do-re-mi 7-tone scale - but the "American Gamelan" concert coming up this May 11 does. (The May 29/30 show dedicated to Harry Partch is highly recommended, and I'll most def. be talking about that later.)


Terry Dame said...

Thanks for writing about us. Where did you hear the music? I'm hoping to get out to the West Coast in the fall. Maybe we'l see you.
all best,
Terry Dame

Mr Fab said...

I found your website thru sheer luck - while doing a web search for the "American Gamelan" concert I mentioned.

Hope you come out, that'd be great.