David Darling & The Wulu Bunun - Lugu Lugu Kan-Ibi

On this blog I often cover music that is indebted to intercultural exchanges; products of traded ideas, or the obsession of one culture with another. I've written previously on the Francophilic tradition of Japanese pop, the admiration of Ethiopian pop by Western indie rock acts, and the exotic fantasies of island life. But this is quite different. On the record Mudanin Kata, American composer and cellist David Darling matched the a capella songs of the Taiwanese aborigine tribe the Wulu Bunun with his own New Age accompaniments. Unlike, for example, the exotica of North America and Europe that reinterprets or - more often - completely constructs fantasies of the Pacific islands in a playful imaginative way, Darling's project involved actually taking recordings of the tribe's ancient song and altering them. It was a project with the potential to be tacky or even disrespectful. Yet, the sensitivity with which Darling handles the aborigine songs is remarkable, and his arrangements are subtle and tasteful: they are there to amplify the effect of the melodies, not overpower them. There's a duo of tracks on the record that work as a suite. Whether that was the intention or not, they complement each other perfectly and are tied together by field recordings of what is presumably the Taiwanese rainforest. 'Ku-Isa Tama Laug' is followed by 'Lugu Lugu Kan-Ibi', these two tracks characterised by beautiful cyclical melodies. I feel like this project is a real testament to human compassion, sensitivity and appreciation.

Label: Riverboat Records
Year: 2004
Genre: Traditional, New Age, Folk

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