As we near the close of a challenging 2021, we’re graced with a release by composer Jeff Gburek which features a rebab, a spiked fiddle. It’s an instrument he studied in Indonesia under Pak Suhardi, blended with synthesizers and electronic bloops and bleeps which left me feeling like I was listening to some remarkable sound experiments out of the old BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Jeff mentions below that there is no tradition of rebab-playing in Western electronic music, so he should be congratulated on consistently breaking new ground in this release.
From his Bandcamp site:
There aren’t many traditional compositions (if there any at all) that feature the rebab in Javanese gamelan history, so my title is primarily ironic.The rebab is a double-coursed, spike violin played- in Javanese style – with a slack-ish bow. I studied traditional music with Pak Suhardi in Yogyakarta over 20 years ago. There have been many detours since. On this album the rebab meets with synthesizer arpeggios, clicks, electronic noises in a free exchange where I explore extended techniques on the rebab that stem partly from Western strings, improv a la William Parker, and partly from the shamanic berimbau of Naná Vasconcelos. Since there is no rebab in traditional Western electronic music, I am at risk of heresy in the eyes of some and innovation in the ears of others. But I offer it all in the spirit of playful balance and improvisation. In celebration of Winter Solstice, 2021.