It's not often that I listen to a record, and then immediately, without hesitation, without considering doing anything else, start the record again. It's also not often I get a record like this.
DAORUM, ladies and gentleman, is the new release on Simon Barker's Kimnara label. It is a documentation of the collaboration between Korean traditional musicians Bae Il Dong and Kim Dong Won, and Australian musicians Matt McMahon, Phil Slater, Carl Dewhurst and Simon himself.
Multi-cultural collaborations in music often end up sounding fragmented and conceited, and usually are pitched as more of a gimmick than anything else. Underneath they seldom carry any real emotion through to the audience; any chance of that being thwarted by the musicians efforts to hurriedly put something together without taking into consideration the depth that comes with the traditional music of other cultures. You can probably deduce who I think is to blame in most incidences.
DAORUM is nothing of the sort: this is some of the most hair-raising music I've heard. There are points on the second track, "Calling" (at 2.20 and 9.10 particularly) when my skin-crawls. The intensity of emotion on this whole record is amazing, and amazing genuine. I know for a fact Simon has been researching and practicing branches of traditional Korean drumming for years, and you can hear his respect for the traditional in his careful arrangement of the traditional elements amongst the more improvised contributions by the Sydney musicians.
At no point does this music sound like a collaboration: it is truly original music made by two groups of musicians from different backgrounds working towards a common goal.
I should also mention that the sound production on this record is immaculate.
Get this record at the Kimnara website, and look out for Emma Franz's documentary "Intangible Asset Number 82" mid 2009. A trailer is on the site.