Amtrak

The music of Gamelan Son of Lion founder Barbara Benary is a lot more visceral that you might imagine. Although it takes as its point of departure the ecstatic sounds of Balinese court music, the sound worlds she mines are more eerie. On Amtrak, the fourth movement of the five-part Aural Shoehorning from 1997, as on many of tracks here, Benary combines sonic elements of Indonesia’s elusive paradise with darker undercurrents that are decidedly more hellish: at times I thought I was listening to King Crimson! Aural Shoehorning ups the ante more than most of the works on the disc by sounding instruments tempered in incompatible tuning systems simultaneously. Of course, each Indonesian gamelan traditionally maintains two sets of instruments which are tuned differently, and no two gamelans are tuned alike. Totally my kind of stuff!

—FJO