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  Founder: Len Mullenger
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Mark LOCKETT (b. 1956)
The Loop Reorchestrated.
Music for Balinese gamelan salunding, electronics, bass and percussion
Jon Alford, Ceri Frost, Alex Hutchings, Dmitry Kormann, Trevor Lines, Mark Lockett and Frank Moon.
4 CDS PROMO/800 (approximately 220 minutes)

Further details ring 0033 468 31 66 83
The price for the four CDs is 30 or 45 euros.
I understand that you will be soon available to order these discs on the internet at
Wriggly Pig Records, 101 Summerfield Crescent, Birmingham B16 0EN.

This is a collection of sixteen pieces which at first may sound very similar to each other but on repeated hearings reveal an interesting diversity. All the pieces are mainly through-composed by Mark Lockett (born 1956) although they may give the appearance of extended improvisation.

The title The Loop Reorchestrated refers to the fact that the pieces were originally performed in public and then revised for these CDs. The public performance was at the Icon Gallery in Birmingham and the music played continually for eight hours and took about a year to compose.

The music is complex and on second and third listenings reveals more and more secrets. The textures vary and to those with a good ear this will prove quite fascinating. The music is not difficult to listen to but each piece should, in my view, be heard separately and considered. To hear all the pieces on one CD at one sitting might become a strain. The music must not be relegated to background music.

I am sure that Mark will excuse my saying this but GCE and A level music papers often have questions on world music and this includes music of the Far East. In this context this set would be very useful. Music of the Far East is fascinating although it has taken us a long time to recognise its value. I love the delicacy of the music. There is no bombast or showing off, but music for music's sake. The opening piece Pool evokes gentle waters and piece number 14 called Ikat successfully portrays the world of Eastern textiles with its clever interweave of music.

Of course, some people prefer showy music with fireworks and drama and, as a consequence, this type of music is ignored. None of it is really fast or dramatic and yet it has a quality that is refreshing. The composer has given us a very vast work approaching four hours in duration and he has explored this sound word to the limit.

If you want Balinese visitor-friendly sounds in a conventional big orchestral score you should investigate the music of the Canadian composer, Colin McPhee, who lived in Bali from 1934-9 and studied its native music. At least two of his works show the influence of Balinese music, Tabuh-Tabuhan of 1936 and Balinese Ceremonial Music.

But to return to Mr Lockett's work I found the third movement Onyx to be highly impressive. Here you can hear a cogent musical argument and some of the effects are quite remarkable. The repetitive nature of the musical phrases suggests minimalism and John Adams but it does make the music coherent and you should listen carefully to the bass part which meanders with great effect. However, I fear many will find the repetitive nature of the music somewhat tedious.

Salunding is the word to describe the type of gamelan music the principles of which are contained in this work. Salunding is one traditional form of gamelan restricted to the hill villages of east Bali. The music is very ancient and the tradition dates back to before the Javanese entered Bali in the 13th century. Traditional salunding has three repertoires namely the music of heaven, the music of earth and the music of hell. The first and third classifications of this music is confined to the hill villages and there are dire consequences if anyone outside hears it. The music is guarded. The music of hell or the underworld is also treated with great care. The earthly music refers to ceremonies including courtship, for example. This music is both sacred and ancient. The usual Balinese music that is heard by visitors is mostly dance music fluctuating from the wild to the dreamy but Mark has studied the music of the hill villages and reproduced its principles here. Each piece has its own texture and mood. There are musical relationships between some pieces and the whole work has an overarched structure.

Mark composes music for the people he works with. He does not have a publisher and you will be interested to know that he has written conventional music including a String Quartet, some accordion pieces and piano music. I understand that he has recently received a commission to write a work for a Youth Orchestra.

David Wright

See also Hollowed Ground

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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