Like Nawal’s Aman last year, Fajar di Atas Awan belongs to a loose category of music that could be called Meditative Islamic—it’s like trance invented by wondering scholars, a spinning ball ballasted with gravity. The strings shimmer, the percussion sets up a dignified pace, a bell occasionally chimes. The Suarasama ensemble is the brainchild of two ethnomusicologists from the University of Northern Sumatra and their exposure to foreign cultures seems to have flavoured the music without fundamentally altering it. There’s a touch of flamenco in “Silang Bertaut Bunyi”. English folk might have influenced the way the guitar is approached in other songs. Rithaony Hutajulu has a pretty, pliable voice, a contrast to Nawal’s commanding smoker’s rasp. Fajar di Atas Awan is an album that cools and balances the brain.
// Notes from the Road
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