From the forest drumming of shamanic rites to the slick studios of Jakarta, from untouched traditional sounds to a confluence of Asian and European elements, the scope of Indonesia's music can be quite daunting, even as the rewards of exploration are plentiful. Smithsonian Folkways' "Discover Indonesia" 15-track sampler highlights triumphs of ethnomusicology found on this 20-disk series.
All the sounds are recorded superbly, whether it's a public ceremony or a shy, young woman singing a haunting orphan's lament in the dead of night. Bountiful notes in each volume explain meanings and contexts in an intelligent, accessible manner.
While this series is a tremendous undertaking that suits the gorgeous heterogeneity of its indigenous music, series producer Philip Yampolsky describes his efforts as "initial forays into uncharted territory." The message is that there's plenty more of this wonderful music to be discovered.
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