Mystical Javan music for art performances.
“LICHEN” is an interesting title for a collection of tracks found stored away in the vaults of Dijf Sander’s music catalogue. It is a collection of six tracks that Dijf says are made for performance and dance. Like his last couple of albums “Java” and “Puja”, it feels at home in the world of Indonesia and Bali – but this time the performances are more serpentine and slinky rather than celebratory or muddy.
The key to the music is the tuned percussion, the Javan drums and the space the synths and electronics give to the world around it. “Stroking the Furnace” is a beautifully choreographed kalimba and mallet let piece with flutes, Eastern wire synths and deep resonating drums. The forest sounds of nature get room to breathe between melodic sections and the whole piece sounds perfect for an audio-visual drone footage collection. The Gamelan plays a central role in the majestic beauty of “Spring in Autumn”. Sounding like a pensive lullaby, it is underscored by thin harmonium-esque string and haunted afterthoughts of echoes that bend off-key. It sounds beautiful but it also sounds a little creepy too and that tone shines throughout the EP.
Whether it’s the deep grooves of “The Undergrowth”, which puts drums and production processing first, or the dissonant piano of ‘Brothers Theme” with its melody first, Dijf Sanders is always able to balance beauty and danger. Nowhere is it best captured than in the final two tracks on the EP. “Swans On Drums” is a true performance piece pulling in tons of percussion instruments and noises to create a mini symphony of sounds. Moving from fast-paced drum scatters to slow-motion cries of keyboards detuning themselves, it is a wild ride. The flipside is the sorrowful “Dynasty of Sparrows” which has an Iranian feel to me. The duet of plucked zither and string really sell the harrowing heartfelt beauty of romance and duty.
Whilst it isn’t where I’d tell you to start with Dijf Sanders’ music (Puja or Java would be my recommendations), this is a great addition. Great for performances but great for a musical journey too, no one does post-exotica quite like Dijf Sanders.