Contemporary gamelan with a kick     >> Bigband   >> Quintet

In a fast-changing Indonesia a new generation of musicians are taking on the task of redefining their rich musical heritage for the new millennium. 17-piece(!) ensemble SambaSunda bring together a dazzling array of instruments and influences to create a new style Gamelan orchestra and the most exciting musical voice out of the archipelago today.

Led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ismet Ruchimat, who started his career in 1989 in Gugum Gumbira's famous Jugala Orchestra, and bred on the creative grounds of Bandung's prominent STSI arts college, SambaSunda have more than seven local releases to their credit. Already a local phenomenon, this best-kept Indonesian secret is now ready burst into the international scene, with a sparkling international CD release.

SambaSunda come from Bandung, the bustling capital and cultural centre of Western Java, more commonly known as Sunda. The Sundanese are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia with a unique language and culture.

The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and the angklung bamboo instruments by adding elements of Jakarta's kroncong, Sunda's jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba. The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only past splendour but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today: A full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the suling bamboo flute, complete with a heavyweight percussion section, wild vocal chanting known as senggak and the truly breathtaking vocal skills of singer Rita Tila.

The result is a mesmerizing mix that manages, strangely, to be both relentlessly exciting and languidly tranquil, full of explosive energy and seductive sweetness. Both reassuringly familiar and daringly innovative at home in Bandung, this is a dazzling new sound for the rest of the world to discover.

After a hugely successful European debut in 2003, the autumn of 2005 finally sees their first international recording released worldwide on renowned German label Network. A new major international tour will follow in summer 2006. The "coolest band to come out of Indonesia yet" is definitely one to watch for more to come!