Uun Budiman & the Jugala Gamelan Orchestra,
(Felmay, 2006)

"New Directions in Jaipongan" is the subtitle of this CD, Banondari, by Uun Budiman & the Jugala Gamelan Orchestra. Jaipongan is a combination of gamelan and pop music.

Gamelan is a traditional music of Indonesia, played here by an orchestra of xylophone-type instruments, Javanese clarinet, two-stringed violin and drums. Jaipongan arose in the 1960s, with pop stylings that inspired a dance craze.

Describing this music is difficult, especially if you have never heard gamelan. There is some similarity to Japanese and Chinese music, but the 26-piece Jugala Gamelan Orchestra gives a far different sound that the often sparse backup of music from further east.

Chiming percussion is the dominant sound of the accompaniment. Budiman's voice has the lilting, warbling of Oriental vocals. It often sounds like melodic chanting, since her singing stays within a certain range. Other members of the orchestra contribute supplemental vocals.

The translations of the eight songs have interesting titles like "The Winds" and "The Star Performer." The lyrics are not translated, unfortunately, although they might be quite long when printed out. The tracks are five to nine minutes long.

Jaipongan is not not particularly accessible to Western listeners. There is no denying the feeling and beauty expressed here, however.

review by
Dave Howell

22 November 2008

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