Alongside the traditional Gamelan of Central Java series dedicated to the gamelan (which has now reached its seventh volume) Felmay is proud to present a vocalist and group who specialise not in court, sacred or ceremonial music but in an authentically popular genre: the Jaipongan, a style which is relatively recent in origin, first emerging in the 1960s.
Banondari is the international debut of UUN BUDIMAN, a vocalist who took her first steps singing for puppet theatre and who, after recording five albums with the Karawang Group, was noticed by Gugum Gumbira who asked her to join his Jugala Orchestra. The multitalented Gumbira, a producer, composer, arranger and choreographer is a key figure in Jaipongan, a style he helped pioneer while still a student in Bandung, a centre in Western Java, where he spent 12 years studying the region’s song, dance and theatre – rock and pop music having been officially banned by Java’s then president, Sukarno, who hoped to revive interest among the nation’s youth in the island’s native culture. But what was shown the door somehow managed to sneak back in through the window, as Gugum Gumbira took what traditional elements he could use and harnessed them to the rock’n’roll animal. Infusing traditional music with the spirit and dynamism of rock he gave birth to the danceable pop hybrid of Jaipongan whose enormous success in the 1970s has never been fully eclipsed. Banondari thus equally represents the grand return of Gugum Gumbira, who with this recording aims to inject new lifeblood into Jaipongan, an important element of which is its exclusive use of traditional gamelan-related instruments, eschewing Western expedients. Among the instruments we hear in the JUGALA ORCHESTRA are the rebab (a two string violin), Javanese clarinet and an aresenal of percussion instruments (metallophones and gongs) and drums whose seductive cyclical rhythms create a colourful background for BUDIMAN’s impassioned voice. Architectonically speaking it was particularly in the use of drums that Jaipongan broke with tradition. Listening to Banondari offers us a glimpse of a highly singular form of popular music that combines structural rigour with clear and distinct artistry.