Pata Masters & Kua Etnika: Pata Java

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Pata Masters & Kua Etnika: Pata Java The latest world music project from Cologne-based saxophonist/bandleader Norbert Stein finds his jazz/new music Pata Masters quintet in Java, collaborating with Djaduk Ferianto and his eight-piece Kua Etnika gamelan. Previous Pata Masters albums have documented the band's explorations of Moroccan and Brazilian soundscapes.

The Indonesian gamelan has enchanted Western musicians since the late nineteenth century, and Austro-German composers have seemed particularly receptive to its charms (this is probably the result of random colonial-era exposure rather than some mysterious cultural synchronicity). Richard Strauss and Carl Orff are among Stein's distinguished predecessors. Stein himself was captivated during a tour of Indonesia in '01, and he returned in '03, spending two weeks composing and rehearsing with Ferianto and his musicians, before recording this album in Jakarta. About half the material is written by Stein and half by Ferianto.

On paper, the project sounds magical. The Pata Masters are adventurous and technically accomplished musicians on the cusp of jazz and European new music, and the gamelan is a sonic world unique to itself. It's composed of many singular string, wind, and percussion instruments, with the jewel in the crown probably being the bonang, a collection of tuned deep gongs, the instruments most commonly associated with the ensemble in the West. With a vast array of sounds at its behest, a gamelan can create delicate, ethereal soundscapes of great lyrical beauty or terrifying, apocalyptic visitations from the gods, and all points in between.

In practice, although the album is enjoyable, the collaboration, in macro terms, doesn't quite come off. Partly this is due to the imperfect recording of the gamelan—while the five Pata Masters are clearly separated and well to the front of the mix (at times overwhelmingly so) the larger, more complex gamelan is disappointingly amorphous and in the background. Partly also, I would suggest, it's due to the timescale involved in the project—a two-day collaboration might have produced some exciting full-on culture collisions, a two-year collaboration might have taken things into deep space, but two weeks is neither short enough nor long enough.

The Stein/Ferianto co-composition "Sound Theatre Of Tukang Pijad" gives a taste of what might have been, given more time: a wierd and trippy eight-minute sonic adventure over a suspended time signature, with Ferianto's abrasive New Opera-like vocals taking turns with equally startling instrumental responses. For much of the rest of the album the Pata Masters solo over chugging gamelan backgrounds without much interaction, making for a two dimensional experience rather than a three dimensional one. Maybe next time.

Track Listing: Sing A Pure Song; Jiwa; Dialog; Speak Yomm; Juzzla Juzzli; Code Carnival; Cublak Cublak Suweng; Sound Theatre Of Tukang Pijad; Wulang Sunu.

Personnel: Norbert Stein, tenor saxophone; Michael Heupel, flutes, sub contra bass flute; Klaus Mages, drums; Matthias Von Welck, bass slit drums, deep mallets; Christoph Hillmann, electronics; Djaduk Ferianto, strompet sulawesi, vocal, kendangs, beduk, klunthung sapi, kemanak, ketipung sunda, krincing, triangle, shaker; Purwanto, bonang, klunthung sapi, calung, rebanas, rebab, kemanak, vocal; Suwarjiyo, kemung, klunthung sapi, rebanas, demung, vocal; Suharjono, saron, klunthung sapi, calung, rebanas, siter, vocal; Fredy Pardiman, saron, klunthung sapi, rebanas, rebab, vocal; Wardoyo, peking, krincing, kendang sunda, rebanas, klunthung sapi, vocal; Sukoco, gender, kendangs, calung dhendem, ketipung jawa, beduk; Sony Suprato, kempul, gong, beduk, rebana ketimpring, vocal.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: PATA Music | Style: Latin/World

comments powered by Disqus


More Articles

Read Numbers CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read The Busker CD/LP/Track Review The Busker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 30, 2017
Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Makes My Heart Sway" CD/LP/Track Review Makes My Heart Sway
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Concentric Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Concentric Circles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Over the Rainbow" CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Atmosphères" CD/LP/Track Review Atmosphères
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Meeting At The Parting Place" CD/LP/Track Review Meeting At The Parting Place
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 1, 2016

Enhance Your AAJ Experience

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!