7/3/08: Suarasama

Fajar Di Atas Awan
Drag City Records
Release Date: August 19, 2008
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sounds like: Hypnotic, exotic, Indonesian-influenced folk

If you’ve ever been to Indonesia, then Suarasama’s Fajar Di Atas Awan will no doubt conjure up memories of that most exotic of locales. If you haven’t made the long trek to Southeast Asia, then this album represents the quickest, cheapest way to get there. Originally released in 1998, Fajar Di Atas Awan (which translates to “Dawn Over The Clouds”) is the work of two Sumatran ethnomusicologists, along with up to 20 of their academically-trained colleagues. But rather than focusing on their own geographical area (one of about 18,000 Indonesian islands), husband-and-wife team Irwansyah Harahap and Rithaony Hutajulu embrace a more sweeping view of the world's musical culture, including African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Sufi, and Pakistani sounds in their contemporary mix. And although you may not be able to understand Fajar Di Atas Awan’s words, the emotional impact of Suarasama’s music comes across clearly on the haunting “Sang Hyang Guru” and the fast-moving “Silang Bertaut Bunyi.” Amazing string work appears on "Playing Gambus," a self-explanatory song title that refers to the twelve-stringed Malay gambus, and on the 14-minute exploratory journey "Merangkai Warna," which features the Arabic Al' Ud, a fretless, pear-shaped predecessor of the modern lute. Offbeat instruments, I know, but it's this kind of non-Western beauty that keeps the popular world music train chugging down the 2008 track. Make no mistake, though, the mystical authenticity found on Fajar Di Atas Awan can't be duplicated or co-opted by Americans looking for a sultry new sound. Now if I could just afford that plane ticket to Indo to hear Suarasama’s music with my own ears…

Official site: www.suarasama.com
Label: www.dragcity.com/bands/suarasama.html

No comments: