From Black Merlin’s knotty rhythms to anthologies on Akuphone and Pak Yan Lau’s Bakunawa ensemble, the fascination with Indonesian gamelan, or rather the (re-)examination of it, continues unabated. »Chasing the Phantom« is also the already second album of the year on Oren Ambarchi’s label Black Truffle, which deals with the centuries-old musical culture. Where Will Guthrie with his Nist-Nah Ensemble wanted to find new forms with traditional instruments, however, Dewa Alit goes even further by creatively expanding the possibilities of traditional gamelan. In his own words, the Balinese composer promises to provide an answer to the question of the future of the style with these two pieces. To this end, he has had the Gamelan Salukat ensemble play instruments specially designed by him and tuned according to a fusion of two traditional scales. This sounds complicated on paper and therefore meaningless at first, but on record it ensures a pretty wild ride. »Ngejuk Memedi« sometimes recalls stochastic electronic or electro-acoustic music thanks to metallic sounds and banging rhythms—if anyone had ever dared to tap along on a drum after about half of the piece to this kind of stuff. The composition draws on its internal dynamics, which continually increase in intensity. »Likad« responds to this with an overwhelming symbiosis of pulsating, organ-like tones and massive, yet complex percussion, which sets thunderous accents towards the end. Difficult music, in the best sense. The future of gamelan? Perhaps. Or at least one of them.
Chasing The Phantom