Groundbreaking gamelan innovators Sambasunda have a flair for experimentation both forwards and backwards in tradition. In their latest incarnation, Sambasunda strip down to a quintet, reflecting an enduring tradition of Sundanese music while at the same time creating something fresh, modern and original. The music is centred on the kacapi, a boat-shaped zither whose mellifluous tones have been heard in Sunda (West Java) for centuries. Its haunting and evocative sound connects to the Sundanese soul and poetry, often singing of displacement, longing and melancholy. Using kacapi, violin, suling (flute) and the unique, tuned kendang drums to accompany truly stunning singer (and dancer!) Rita Tila, Sambasunda use an ancient repertoire to articulate a distinctly urban accent suffused with a contemporary awareness of global sounds.
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 three international albums and more than 10local releases to their credit. Already a local phenomenon in Sunda (West Java), this gem of a group has also been making waves on the international scene in the last few years.
The Quintet format is the group's latest artistic adventure, inspired by a offer in 2010 from the KlangKosmos touring circuit in Germany; inbetween those 23 quintet concerts a new album was recorded with producer Colin Bass. This international release on the World Music Network label is scheduled for January 2012, followed by a British 'Making Tracks' tour later that spring. Definitely the most exciting and versatile contemporary group to come out of Indonesia yet!