Music · Performing Arts · Reviews

Opening Minds to the Power of Drums

Photo by Jo Quah

Music is one of the best things that man have created – and something that is best shared.

The 4th installation of  International Drumming Festival -Kaleidescope 4: Drumming Nation was proof of this. Presented by Hands Percussion, the harmonious collaboration saw talents from Burkina Faso-US, Indonesia Germany and Malaysia, opening up the minds of music lovers at Plenary Hall, KL Convention Centre on September 10.

At the hall on Saturday evening, audience were very quickly presented with the festival’s offering. Starting off with a selection of pieces from Tle, Dafra Drum’s full length production. Donning colourful clothes, the five member group wowed audience with their colourful performance of various styles and sounds of the previous Manding Empire. Using percussion instruments including djembe, dundun, calabash, and electric guitar, the group was the ideal opener at the festival.

Next, three members from Hands Percussion 1, took to the stage with Stubernic,  their interpretation of a couple’s stories on their trip from Guatamala to Nicaragua, and the many mrimba bands they heard. The pleasing presentation was followed by Hands 1 & 2, who went out of the comfort zone to playing the gendang, in Bare Hands Dance. Under the direction of guest artist and composer Mat Din, the group did a good job of expressing the sounds of tradition, with a twist of contemporary.

Going traditional after that, Kamrul Hussin & Geng Wak Long expanded the musical knowledge of the audience with their improvisation of of Kelantanese musical instruments.  This was followed by Speaking Hands, a 200 year old composition reflecting the 16 beat cycle called Teen Taal. With the play-off between the vocals and drums was a hit among the audience.

The following Percussion Paradise was a fun piece where routine and drums combined well  – translating into a rhythmic dance piece that was both playful yet entertaining.

Taking contemporary to a new level, the trio Triokho dazzled with their complex rendition of Iannis Xenakis’ Okho. Their second piece titled “…als beruhrte ein Genie mit 1000 Armen zerstreut ein Xylophon” or as if a djinn with a 1000 arms is absent-mindedly practicing on a xylaphone was as interesting (and a little puzzling) as its title was.

Last but not least, the Gamelan JingGong musicians, with Wayan Sudirana as arranger and composer, wowed the audience with their culturally rich Body Tjak (pronounced chock) – a combination of body music percussion and Balinese kecak. The group went on to perform Kilitan, which roughly means interlocking. This was achieved with the Balinese gamelan (reong and terompong) combined with other musical ideas to produce a new musical guideline syncronised in a new way.

The best part of the festival was its ending, with all the performers combining their talents in a unique coming together of music and vocals -which had the essence of popular Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak.

The brainchild of Artistic Director, Bernard Goh, who has ambitious plans to put Malaysia on to the world map of Festivals, particularly in the drumming arena. No doubt, there is a long way to go for Malaysia to be host to more festivals in the future, but the latest edition proves that, there is certainly potential – with  the right pick of performers and creative pieces.


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