Daniel Schmidt And The Berkeley Gamelan – Abies Firma
Daniel Schmidt’s In My Arms, Many Flowers captured the souls of many when it debuted on Recital in 2016. Abies Firma follows chronologically, a collection of beguiling Gamelan works from 1976 - 1991. With the Berkley Gamelan group, Schmidt playfully directed the American style along with his own compositional evolution during this period.
He includes a piece for Javanese bowed instrument the rebab, bent and stretched with tape delay in what Sean McCann aptly dubs “a sort of Eastern Frippertronics weaving the stereo field.” Other, mallet-powered parts of Abies Firma sculpt polyphony into more defined constructions, an ebb and flow of unique and individualized sonic storytelling.
Says Schmidt of this time (during which he also became a father, hence the focus of the almost Dutch-interior cover) “I moved away from Javanese traditional formalism completely, no longer using a constant stream of notes.” And of the title, dedicated to the Sierra fir: “These trees gave me a sense of rising and rising, all their branches reaching toward sun and sky. Looking at them across open spaces, I felt myself part of their upward striving. The tall mountain trees became rising themes and arpeggios, sometimes even sweeping across the six octaves of the gamelan.”