Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Gamelan Primer

Of all the weird and wonderful music uncovered in the day-to-day business of TUNETOURIST, none is quite so alien to Western ears reared on Pop as the music of Indonesia's Gamelan orchestras. Name-checked by composers like Steve Reich (pictured) and bands from King Crimson to 23 Skidoo, this essentially rhythmic style is played on metal gongs, vibraphone-style instruments and drums. (The one exception being rare orchestras who play exclusively bamboo instruments.)

This isn't something that you're going to get into with 50 quid and a half-hour browse around your local HMV though. It's a maze of musical confusion made worse by the pretty unconventional CDs that you'll find everywhere from Balinese tourist markets to Jakarta record shops, with colour-photocopied inlays and track-listings only if you're very lucky. Don't worry though, TUNETOURIST has already put in the legwork and will be breaking down a selection of choice cuts on this very page in the next couple of weeks.