The fantastic umpteen-volume Indonesian music series released on Smithsonian Folkways in the last few years went a long way toward illuminating the musical depth and uniqueness of that cultural world. Generally, the focus of the series was a kind of preservationist documenting of traditional music from the island chain (apart from the delightfully offbeat Indonesian Guitars album at the end of the release cycle). What you hear on the new Rough Guide to the Music of Indonesia (Roughnet 1055; 72:44) is something almost completely different: a survey of Indonesian music that goes every which way but pure. Contemporary notions, hints of pop and other exotic mix-ups blend in with elements of traditional gamelan to create a kaleidoscopic musical portrait of a region.
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