Mepalu Sari

Western Front is pleased to present Mepalu Sari [Essence of a Collision], a digital album of new gamelan and electronic music compositions by students and emerging artists.

Listen here.

In partnership with Burnaby North Secondary School and Insitu Recordings, high school students in Bali were commissioned to compose and perform new music for gamelan that would later be sampled and reinterpreted by Canadian high school students and local electronic musicians. To this end three teams of high school students were assembled in Bali, each led by an Insitu Recordings team member who would support the students as they developed their compositions. Several months later the groups convened at Antida studios in Sanur, Bali to record their work. For many of the students, this was their first experience in a recording studio and the first time their music had been recorded professionally. The recordings from that lengthy session, which resulted in fifteen new works, were then sent to Vancouver, Canada.

Concurrently, students at Burnaby North Secondary School, led by teacher Kevin Ault, engaged with the sounds of gamelan music, attending two workshops with Insitu Recordings’ founders Jonathan Adams and I Putu Gede Sukaryana. Through these workshops the students learned about the history of Balinese gamelan and had a chance to play the instrument. After this, they began working with Vancouver based composers Brian Topp, Yu Su, and Kiran Bhumber, learning the program Ableton Live and beginning the process of creating new works using the gamelan samples. The works were originally planned to be premiered at Western Front in 8-channel surround sound in early June, but due to COVID-19, the concert had to be canceled. In April it was decided to extend the scope of the project. The Balinese compositions were provided to local and internationally based Canadian artists.

From the outset, our hope was to transcend paradigms of appropriation and create an exchange between the Balinese and Vancouver students. The students on both sides of the Pacific were enthusiastic about the project and the music within this album reflects that.Mepalu Sari is available on Western Front’s Bandcamp page, where it can be streamed for free or downloaded for a donation.

In partnership with New Forms Festival, we are also pleased to celebrate the album launch by presenting it on from August 7-14, where it will appear alongside interviews with the Balinese students, a recorded performance by Tegan Wahlgren and an essay by Western Front’s New Music Curator, Aram Bajakian, also available here.

Producer & Curator: Aram Bajakian
Insitu Recordings Coordinators: I Putu Gede Sukaryana and Jonathan Adams
Insitu Recordings Bali Team Leaders: I Wayan Situbanda, I Komang Pasek Wijaya, I Wayan Ari Widyantara
Burnaby North Secondary School Project Coordinator: Kevin Ault
Mixing: Jonathan Adams, Insitu Recordings
Mastering: Michael Fossenkemper, TurtleTone Studio
Educators: Kiran Bhumber, Csaba Laszlo, Yu Su,  Brian Topp, I Putu Gede Sukaryana, Jonathan Adams
Adviser: Julia Ulehla
Production Assistant: Kate Woolf, Kathy Feng
Technical Support: Lief Hall, Ben Wilson

Produced with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Government of Canada, BC Arts Council,  Province of British Columbia, City of Vancouver, and TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. Copresented with New Forms Festival.