TRANCE GONG IS A TESTIMENT TO NEW MUSIC DIRECTIONS ON THE
INSTRUMENTS OF THE INDONESIAN GAMELAN. THIS IS A UNIQUE AND
HISTORIC RECORDING FROM SEATTLE’S FOREMOST GAMELAN GROUP.
THE 1994 - TRANCE GONG - CD BY THE
SEATTLE GAMELAN GROUP
TRANCE GONG is a remarkable recording made in Seattle by the group
Gamelan Pacifica. Since it’s initial release in 1994, Trance Gong has helped
show the wide range of possibilities in new gamelan music. These are
recordings of works by contemporary composers John Cage, Jarrad Powell,
Jon Keliehor and Jeff Morris. The music is exceptionally wide ranging.
“Trance Gong” and “Small Of My Back” were co-written by four group
members (Jon Keliehor, Jarrad Powell, Signy Jakobsdottir, Tom Fallat),
and mix gamelan and non-gamelan instruments in a style of performance
enhanced composition that shows both the subtlety and dynamic range of
the musicians and group.
The powerful musicianship of erhu player Warren Chang brings an
emotionally charged presence to the cathedral-like structures of Jarrad
Powell’s “Gending Erhu”, while an adaptation of John Cage’s 1948 classic,
“In A Landscape” sends wave upon wave of gentle melodies to idle and
languish on the shore of a distant place. Jon Keliehor’s “Peaches Of
Immortality”, extracted from an earlier presentation of Wu Cheng En’s
classic folktale Monkey, brings the group through a series of intricately
layered plateaus of elaboration, found similarly in Sundanese and Balinese
music. “Rain” by Jeff Morris takes an earthy look at juxtaposed
permutations of kotekan, and it’s varying orchestrations.
The recordings on Trance Gong use both Javanese and American made
(aluminium) sets of gamelan instruments, intriguing in the completely
different moods that they evoke. These recordings are pretty much the
music of explorers, taking the listener on a wide ranging tour, revealing so
many possibilities. This CD is a wonderful document to the group's
creative direction between 1990 - 1995.
Gamelan Pacifica are a professional ensemble performing an international
style of music reflective of their own musical tastes, interests, training,
and instincts. Although deeply based in traditional Indonesian gamelan
idioms, Gamelan Pacifica have established a reputation in the development
of new music. The door is wide open for music collaborations, inviting
works from composers world wide in the gamelan music community. They
have premiered, commissioned, and performed new works by Lou
Harrison, KRT Wasitodiringrat, A.W. Sutrisno, I Wayan Sadra, Janice
Giteck, Jeff Morris, Jon Keliehor, Ingram Marshall, Jarrad Powell, David
Mahler, Bun Ching Lam, John Cage, Nancy Karp, Barbara Benary, Tony
Prabowo and others.
CD ARTWORK: ROBERT WILLIAMSON
THE WIRE (London)
“The range of pieces is impressive . . . . . . . highly
OPTION (Los Angeles)
"In all, music of serene beauty. This group . . is a
leading innovator in contemporary gamelan music,
combining Balinese and Javanese traditions with
Western influences. All the pieces highlight the
gamelan's delicacy and subtle emotions.”
"Gamelan Pacifica develops contemporary compositions
for ancient mallet instruments, influenced by traditional
themes and rhythms. Pristine and accomplished,
Trance Gong captures the beauty, fragility, and
meditative aspects of instrumental gamelan music.”
Very good/excellent - 4.5 stars.