Thursday, March 12, 2009
Jalan Jalan: Traditional Music Recordings by Jerry Lloyd (URCK Records CD)
Received a few releases from Carl Off at URCK, whose world music slant I hadn't been aware of though it makes sense that this is the kind of stuff the Hop-Frog Collectiv folks are jamming. This disc is especially intriguing, as it compiles 35 tracks from a bunch of countries traveled by Jerry Llyod over the span of 10 years. I'm a sucker for this stuff too, and the field recording quality only adds to it all, but the real treat here is the great sounds and extensive liner notes cataloguing how, why and where each one went down.
Each number here is great, and with 35 of them it's pretty tough to cover the breadth of this collection. Runs the gamut from chanting Vietnamese monks with thudding percussion (track 1) to Balinese pigeons with bamboo whistles attached (track 31) to the dude's sink in a Laos hotel (track 6) which sounds more like a mix between an airplane fly over and a huffing geezer. Some of it is downright majestic, with those beautiful Asiatic strings that sway about in tunings far more effective to my ear than the twelve notes those Westerners came up with... maybe it's just lack of exposure though, who knows... still, there's an energy and rawness to so much of this stuff that's hard to deny. The Indian street performer doing a one man band thing sounds like an Indian dude jamming with Spencer Clark, though I guess it's safe to say Clark sounds more like he's jamming with this guy.
This kind of sonic tourism can get dangerous in the wrong hands, slipping into a tendency to exoticize this material to the point of dilution, but Llyod doesn't come close to this. Like Dilloway before him, this is pure musical appreciation and a way to spread sounds that otherwise would never make it over here. Some of these pieces are simply 30 second snippets that he must have captured in the street, and his continued pursuit of these sounds and the choices made in terms of what to keep or scrap are less concerned with culture gaps and more with similarities. Good music is good music, and some of the folk tunes here contain sentiments as recognizable to anyone as Lightnin Hopkins' are. Track 14's traditional Indian chant contains a delicate and eerie beauty while the soundtrack to track 26's Indonesian stick fighting is a gamelan rhythm that would just as easily have someone believing it was an Angus Maclise or Henry Cowell work. Though I guess that's more testament to those artists' mimicry than it is to these tunes, but the idea is there. It's the global communication era baby, and it's all starting to touch on everything else. Let's just hope that this sort of music doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
It's a beautiful little collection, with a great mixture of short windows into the country and longer and larger scale pieces often played at culture shows. Enough interesting sounds here to spin its 80 minutes many times over, and the liner notes make it all the better. Well played for sure.