Monday, June 06, 2022

V.A. - Exploring Gong Culture In Southeast Asia: Massif And Archipelago [Sub Rosa 509]

Put out on the circuit via the long standing label that is Sub Rosa on May 20th, 2k22 as a massive 2CD anthology accompanied by an introduction by David Toop and a 52 pages booklet incorporating many photos and extended liner notes provided by the projects initiator, Japanese sound artist Yasuhiro Morinaga, is "Exploring Gong Culture In Southeast Asia: Massif And Archipelago", a large scale selection of 35 original gong music recordings captured and preserved in the years 2017 and 2018, covering a wide variety of ethnic groups and gong styles to be found in Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia as well as their presence and function in the everyday musings of the native people within that specific region, from ceremonial pieces for funerals to ritual gong music for offering and sacrifice to protective spells to pieces providing the right rhythm for everyday chores and, ofc, celebratory and festive music, all tied together by hypnotic, percussive (poly)rhythms and a rich variety of mystic, mythical overtones, some rare recordings accompanied by enthralling vocal performances ("Krung - Kids Routine After School")  whilst others present a powerful whirlwind of uptempo rhythm signatures ("Ede - Ghet Khil") or resemble modern electronic music despite being probably century old ("Punong - Offering To The Spirits"). Furthermore we find bits of droning, spint-tingling quality ("Tampuan - Harvesting"), fever'ish and shamanic excursions ("Isneg Grop - Rooster Dance"), more percussive dronings in the subsequent "Music For Funeral Ceremony" by Sumba whereas pieces like "Tadok" by Kallinga even evoke memories of Minimal Music masters Karlheinz Stockhausen for the trained ear just to pick a few. A fascinating glimpse into a sonic realm unknown and oftentime unrecognized by the average Western listener and therefore worth an extended listening session or two.

Album artwork on Instagram!


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