Built on field recordings made during trips to Indonesia and Southeast Asia, Penjaga Insaf’s new release, Sama Sadja, almost immediately takes on a mantle that is dark, ritualistic and redolent of old magicks. The duo of Henry Emich and Ingo Sauerbrey escort their listeners through foreign and, at times, unnerving landscapes. The atmospheres are humid and swarming with sound, hypnotically dense but always packing a moment of sonic surprise to jar you, in the best possible way, out of your mental lull. This is a disc you become part of. The field recordings make up the bulk of the music here, with Emich and Sauerbrey sagely augmenting them with quiet, droning spaces that serve to perfectly amplify the rising sensations. Listen to “Pulang,” where the pair let a tribal chant take the lead to create a sort of sacred space, the two adjusting levels and background sounds, mixing moments together to turn the whole into a ceremony that’s a bit dark and yet uplifting to the spirit.
The liner notes for Sama Sadja are required reading. The information is both fascinating and informative. Sauerbrey notes where he recorded the gamelans in “Seimbang” and “Pelamun”; explains that “Djalan” contains samples of the a cappella singing/chanting that accompanies traditional Kecak dancing and sounds from a large bamboo gamelan called a jegog ; and points out that the background sounds in “Sama Sadja” come from a “welcoming and fighting dance” called Tarian Caci. (I just watched a video on YouTube of this, and it’s hard to explain.) The richness of information adds to the richness of the sounds and helps the listener connect with the traditions that inspired Sauerbrey to work on this disc.
Sama Sadja is a deep blend of near-dark ambient, primitive music and sound-moments that, stirred together by these two expert hands, will subsequently stir your soul. A must-listen.
Available at Loki-Found.