Southeast Asia

Other Islands: 2012-2018

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fiffdimension vol3

(see also Gleefully Unknown: 1997-2005 and Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2012)

brings us into the current decade – with further wide-ranging experimentation and exploration sonically, temporally and geographically, in New Zealand, Western AustraliaIndonesia, Okinawa (Japan), and Fiji.

by Dave Black (acoustic & electric guitars, banjo, harmonica, laptop, bass, tenor saxophone, field recordings, piano, ukulele, sanshin, saron, jublag, demung, vocal), with

Mike Kingston (charango, acoustic guitar),

Simon Sweetman (percussion),

Nat da Hatt (electric guitar, keyboards, banjo),

Emit Snake-Beings (banjo, vocal, percussion, flute, electronics),

the Digitator (electric drums, keyboards & loops),

Campbell Kneale (electric guitar, analogue synthesiser),

Cylvi M (vocal, field recordings, percussion, shakuhachi),

Blair Latham (bass clarinet),

Simon O’Rorke (keyboards),

Chris Prosser (violin),

Julie Bevan (acoustic guitar),

plus Indonesian gamelan ensembles led by Sofari Hidayat, Budi Putra, and Gareth Farr,

a song by my great-great-grandfather John Collie (1856),

and field recordings from Western AustraliaIndonesia, Okinawa (Japan), and Fiji.

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Featuring tracks from the albums

The Winter: Flying Visit (2012)

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway (1999/2014)

ネオン列車の風景 Neon Train Landscapes (2010-15)

Ngumbang (2014-15)

The Winter: Exit Points (2015)

The Electricka Zoo (2017)

and previously unheard tracks.

And hear the previous compilations

Gleefully Unknown: 1997-2005 

and Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2012
Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2013

Gamelan Padhang Moncar at the SE Asian Night Market 2017

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Sunday 2 April 2017

Gamelan Padhang Moncar braved wind and rain to perform twice at the night market on the Wellington Waterfront, near Te Papa.

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Indonesia Festival at Te Papa

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Two audience videos at the Indonesia Festival at Te Papa national museum in Wellington, NZ:

Gamelan music, in styles from Bali by Gamelan Taniwha Jaya

and central Java by Gamelan Padhang Moncar.

 

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Te Marae, Level 4
Sunday 23 October 2016, 10am-5pm

This was a full day of music, dance, song, and batik fashion from Indonesia.

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Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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Here’s video from my two visits to Indonesia in 2014 – a fascinating new country that I’m only just beginning to explore, and can continue to do so through gamelan (like Indonesia itself it gets more complex & interesting the more you look).

Partly because I’ve visited several countries in East Asia now, and lived in two (Japan and South Korea), Indonesia seems like something else entirely. It’s less Chinese-influenced and has a style of its own.

[Diary from September] This trip was just enough for an introductory sampler. I decided to focus on the arts this time rather than the mountains, ocean and jungle which would require more time, money and preparation.

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I had mixed results in my cultural studies mission this morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Gamelan Taniwha Jaya 2015

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Thanks to everyone who came to see Gamelan Taniwha Jaya play in Wellington recently!

Gopala

Tabuh Telu

In 2015 we’ve also performed at the Newtown Festival, the Southeast Asian Night Market, and Indonesia Day.

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Indonesian news article, 31/08/15, http://nasional.kompas.com

Here are a couple of recordings of two of the pieces we played:

https://soundcloud.com/user521325057/margapati-rehearsal-feb-2015/s-rQW6u

These are in the Balinese gong kebyar style of gamelan, which is loud, fast, intricate and modernist.  For more info see http://gamelan.org.nz/

Gamelan Taniwha Jaya is a group of New Zealand musicians dedicated to the study and performance of Balinese music. They specialise in contemporary music for Gamelan Gong Kebyar, and frequently incorporate western instruments into the ensemble.  Read the rest of this entry »

Little India, Singapore

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A major highlight of 2014 for me was visiting some new parts of Southeast Asia. I enjoyed the Tamil Indian culture in Singapore and Malaysia, which has sated my curiosity for India itself for the moment.

The sensory overload of the Hindu temples was an intriguing contrast from the elegant minimalism of the Japanese approach, and the mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay cultures is like having three different Asian countries in one.

Bali, Indonesia

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There’s my first video from Bali, from footage taken on my earlier visit in August.  Note the gamelan (bronze percussion) and rindik (bamboo percussion) soundtrack.

I left my job in Perth and am on my way home to New Zealand, so I’m nervous about jobhunting & starting all over again (again).  On the way home I’m spending a week on a smaller island, Nusa Penida, doing conservation volunteer work with www.fnpf.org  If you’d like to help me afford to stay longer and make more of a contribution  ($20 = 1 day’s expenses) please  – or even better, buy some of our music.

Bali is (once you get away from the main city and the tacky resorts in the south) an almost absurdly beautiful place… frangipani and Indonesian flags (preparing for the August 17th independence day celebrations) everywhere, majestic hillsides lined with centuries-old rice terraces, and too many Hindu temples to count (each family has their own). That plus the many international flights, and entertainment options from adventure sports to nightclubbing to traditional arts make it easy to see why it’s such a popular destination (I read somewhere that 80% of visitors to Indonesia go to Bali and nowhere else, which makes me glad I saw Java first).

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Nusa Penida, Indonesia

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Nusa Penida is a smaller island between Bali and Lombok, about an hour by boat from Sanur in Bali.

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View from Nusa Penida towards Bali and Mt Agung

I spent a week as a volunteer with Friends of the National Parks Foundation. I helped with feeding the Bali starlings (critically endangered due to poachers – the population was down to 10 at one point but is now over 100 thanks to the translocation project), along with plant nursery maintenance, a beach cleanup of plastic waste, and construction of the new FNPF premises (thatched huts on a terraced hillside, and gardens that will be beautiful once established).

An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia
An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia

Nusa Penida is much less developed than Bali, and resembles Bali as it might have been 40 years ago before the tourism boom. Accomodation is simple, with basic facilities (eg cold showers – actually very pleasant in the tropical climate – bucket-flush toilets, and limited food variety).

For tourists it offers great snorkelling & diving,

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and enough Hindu temples & local colour to make it interesting culturally. It’s nice to not be hassled to buy things as much as in Bali. Mostly people just say ‘hello’ (in some cases it’s the only English word they know).

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I also need to mention The Gallery, run by an English expat Mike Appleton – it’s THE place to go for local information, language interpretation, western food, and to support local artists.

The main amenity I missed was reliable internet connections – there was no access at all for five of the nine days I was there, and when it was available it was patchy & unreliable even at the one internet cafe in town.  Lesson from this for me was to finish all travel bookings before  going somewhere remote like this.  Even back here in Bali the connection is too slow for me to upload any sounds or other photos, so I’ll add more later.

I also had a motorbike accident, though not the kind you’d expect. Read the rest of this entry »

Singapore

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If you’ve never been to Asia before, don’t speak any Asian languages, and have only a day or two available, Singapore would be a great introduction.

You can find tropical rainforest and the sea,  traditional and modern architecture, and the cultures of China, India, the Middle East and the West all in one city.Most people speak English, buses are frequent and on time, and it even has a nice airport complete with indoor gardens.

Just try not to think what it would cost to live here… and with Malaysia and Indonesia still to go on this trip I imagine things will get more chaotic as I go! I made some sound recordings, which will find their way into some new music pieces eventually.  In the meantime here are a few photos.