I metaphorically shit my pants when accidentally coming across the musically versatile Lungsuran Daur on Youtube – a group from Bandung (‘Everybody Bandung tonight’), West Java, Indonesia, steered by a musical-genius legend and innovator named Kodir Dodong – (in other write-ups he is referred to as Dodong Kodir or Pak Dodong – but Pak is simply the Javenese form of Mr.). [The group is also comprised of Yudi Setiadi [his younger brother], Rusli Gustaman, Rudi Rodek, Asep Tato, Ricky Biola, and Dedeng Buleng.)
Everyone has heard of garage bands, – ahem, well, Ladies and Gentlemen, here I boldly present to you a garbage band. ‘Daur’ is Javanese for recycle. This is a group of organized chaos – let’s start with their instruments. The instruments imitate disparate sounds of nature [animals, insects, weather, the ocean, the elements, trains [as all good music does], etc.). The instruments are not only just played in the traditional pentatonic and diatonic scales, but also in his own scale he calls the Dodong membranes (mainly his nature sounds, if I am understanding him correctly). He has worked on improving the sound of the traditional Indonesian instrument called the gamelan.
He makes instruments from literally every kind of scrap, scrip, and scrape – if it can be thrown away, then it can be turned into an instrument, is Dodong’s logic. (Viz., unused shavers, plastic bags to sound like flies, broomsticks, plumbing parts, a motley of metals, cooking skewers, washers, faulty wood – even the kitchen sink, I am assuming). Much to his now-resigned wife’s chagrin and presumable unhappiness (the early days went like, ‘Why do you collect garbage? You are only messing up the house!’), he has collected piles upon piles of junk that will be used someday to conceive something out of nothing, which makes Dodong really-times-infinity elated and satisfied. His inspirations for musical instruments can also be unorthodox: the devastating tsunami that hit Aceh a decade ago, as well as the Asian bird flu epidemic (which inspired an instrument dubbed ‘Chicken Drum’).
Despite the eccentric and silly-sounding nature of the instruments, Dodong is far from unprofessional, and one cannot tell that his homemade instruments were birthed from garbage – either by look or — more importantly – by sound. The guy is an extraordinary virtuoso, to say the least.
His musical inspirations are sundry: Sundanese/Javanese traditional music and a diverse array of Indonesian styles, jazz, classical, flamenco, pop, latin, melayu (Malay-style of music), country, and blues. He seems to be really taken with Classical, whose compositions he has played in Paris – and he loves, times infinity, flamenco, and even composed a flamenco piece for a Spanish musician friend by the name of Kuntul Flamenco, aka Egret Flamenco, which I believe incorporates bird sounds into Flamenco. Wish I could unearth a video link. Also, he seems to be very smitten with American styles – in one video he says the word ‘American’ quite a bit – and then he and Lungsuran Daur transition into a blues-California hybrid sound toward the end of their long set.
Dodong and Longsuran Daur have collaborated with many world-renowned artists, including French rich-‘voxed’ tenor Sebastian Obrecht; complex-melodic Bahrani stringed instrumentalist Mohammed Haddad; Chinese pipe player Yuan Chun; and Ukranian contrabass instrumentalist Kamil Tchalawep (whom I cannot locate the existence of).
It is imperative to delve into the music of Indonesia, which admittedly I am not yet that familiar with, particularly West Javanese, because what I notice is that when you find a killer musical genius in a certain part of the world, then you will also find a cluster of deliciousness waiting to be discovered in the same region: Mississippi, Mali, Cuba, Appalachia, the Andes, Central Siberia, begrudgingly the UK, and such similarly great stuff.
Alright enough of that.