There is very little in the way of recordings available of Daniel Schmidt’s works, but his gamelan compositions are sublime pieces which if you’re not careful will send you to sleep. Resonating percussive metals played with a Phillip Glass like repetition, but with a clear progression. In My Arms, Many Flowers boasts two studio tracks and two live tracks from 1978-1982. Seriously, don;t gamelan and drive.
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- In My Arms, Many Flowers by Daniel Schmidt
8/10 Robin Staff review, 29 September 2016
You put a Recital edition onto your slipmat and you’re home at last. The ambient label too weird for ambient continue their successful run of beautiful pieces with a first ever pressing for the music of Daniel Schmidt, a musician and theorist noted for his study of gamelan, a percussive ensemble music originating from Indonesia. Schmidt’s early interpretation of the music might sooner be compared to Western minimalism of Glass and Reich, but its origins lie in Java and Bali -- ‘In My Arms, Many Flowers’ serves as a retrospective in the music’s Western interpretation, in both its influences and anachronisms.
This record collects pieces Schmidt performed both in the studio and live with the Berkeley Gamelan, whose use of metallic percussion and ringing melodicism (through choice chords in different ranges) creates a gently rhythmic and subtly emotive patter. The music sounds supremely light and gorgeous in its simplicity, but reading the liner notes will reveal a complex numerical score, suggesting an integral design to a setup in which artists play in a sort of isolated ensemble -- everyone focused on the rhythmic contributions of their own station.
Noting an essential difference between Western and Indonesian gamelan, Schmidt writes that “the musical traditions there have been adhered to, admitting very little Western influence” -- the tunings, tone and overall sound differs immensely, keeping the traditions separate from their American interpretation. That said, this record offers stretched and often ambient approaches to the set-up, with the record’s title track offering a groaning xylophonic sustain that makes itself open to certain melodic supplements -- Schmidt himself argues this record is further away from your typical American approach, but all I can really say, without his informed music-man mind to hand, is that this is a totally gorgeous record, standing with a dignified poise as it paces forward.
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