Genetic is the first release outside Indonesia from contemporary Balinese composer Dewa Alit and his Gamelan Salukat. Alit is a major force in contemporary Indonesian music, presenting his work extensively throughout Asia, Europe and North America and collaborating with renowned ensembles such as Bang On A Can and Ensemble Modern. Involved in the composition and performance of works for Gamelan ensemble since he was a teenager, in 2007 he founded Gamelan Salukat, a 25 member ensemble that perform on instruments specially built to Alit’s designs, using a unique 11-note scale.
The single composition that unfurls over the two sides of Genetic is an enchanting introduction to Alit’s magical sound world. Beginning with a stately procession of isolated, hanging chords sounded on the ensemble’s uniquely-tuned metallophones, the piece abruptly launches into a stunning passage of rhythmically complex call-and-response motifs, making striking use of abruptly muted chords – one of many moments where the acoustic ensemble sounds uncannily electronic. The piece continues to alternate between spare investigations of resounding tones and sometimes frenetic ensemble interplay using unorthodox techniques, including a stunning moment around half-way when the entire Gamelan seems to transform itself into a single, gigantic zither. Later in the piece, drums and wind instruments enter, and the metallophones begin to play virtuosic, rapid-fire passages of fragmented scalar melody.
As Alit explains in his liner notes, the music of Gamelan Salukat is grounded in the tradition of Balinese Gamelan; however, he approaches this tradition not as something static, but as a set of concepts and principles that can be used to create something radically new. For many listeners, Genetic will inhabit precisely this space between the familiar and the invigoratingly unheard, as it takes the stop-start dynamics, unison melodies, and much of the instrumentation familiar from traditional Balinese Gamelan and puts them in the service of rhythmic, harmonic, and timbral experimentation, crafting a work possessed by at once by mysterious grandeur and a joyous volatility.
released May 8, 2020
LP cut at 45 rpm
Performed by Gamelan Salukat. Recorded at Antida Studio, Bali 2015. Special thanks to Made Mantle Hood for the recording space.
Mastered and cut by Kassian Troyer at D&M, Berlin.
Cover image and graphic design by Lasse Marhaug.
LP includes liner notes by the composer.
The Genetic LP was published by Black Truffle records (2020)
Born in 1973 to a family of artists in Pengosekan village, Dewa Alit has been immersed in Balinese gamelan from early
childhood and is generally acknowledged as the leading composer of his generation in Bali.
Seeking a wider path for expressing his approach to new music in gamelan, Alit founded his group Gamelan Salukat in 2007, performing on a new set of instruments of his own tuning & design....more
With the entanglement and interaction of noise and musical tone, we seem to have traveled through the jungle infested by ghosts, and witnessed a new universe being reborn in this strange chaos and harmony. Through this recording, Jim O’Rourke reconstructed the order of sound in a sense. alain.proust
The gamelan instrumentation and sounds are used in a way that evokes some of the atmosphere of that music but with a whole lot of twists. There's an enchanting vibe, but it's also full of subtle, mystifying techniques and complexity. Really magical! Giles