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Samsara OST blends Balinese gamelan with Gabber Modus Operandi’s hardcore sounds

The black-and-white silent film premieres in Singapore this weekend

  • Amira Waworuntu
  • 9 May 2024
Samsara OST blends Balinese gamelan with Gabber Modus Operandi’s hardcore sounds

Singapore will host the world premiere of Samsara, the latest film by Indonesian director Garin Nugroho, at the Esplanade Concert Hall on May 10.

The black-and-white film set in 1930s Bali tells the story of a poor man who resorts to dark rituals to gain wealth after his marriage proposal is rejected by a wealthy family. The consequences of his actions bring curses upon his wife and children.

Samsara was inspired by my love of the classic German films of the 1920s, Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927), which brought me back to exploring local traditions,” Garin shares.

In addition to its visual impressiveness, Samsara stands out for its soundtrack, which blends traditional elements with contemporary sounds.

The Balinese gamelan is performed by Wayan Sudirana, a music composer and ethnomusicologist known for his work on ancient Balinese music and various global traditions. Wayan’s background includes studies at the University of British Columbia, with influences from Korea, Ghana and India, as well as Western classical music.

Complementing the soundtrack is Bali-based duo, Gabber Modus Operandi, made up of Kasimyn and Ican Harem who have gained a massive cult following thanks to their hardcore electronic gabber noise with touches of traditional resonances.

Kasimyn recently gained international recognition after collaborating with Björk on her 2022 album, ‘Fossora’, while Ican Harem was featured on Osaka-based Violent Magic Orchestra’s latest album, ‘DEATH RAVE’.

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When asked to elaborate on implementing electronic music as the score, Garin explained: “The 1930s was the era of the tourism industry, which means various music genres entered Bali. At the same time, magic realism developed on the island as both life and art.”

Magical realism is a literary and artistic style that combines realistic narrative elements with fantastical or magical features.

“Electronic music is able to give life to various musical genres and soundscapes of the industrial world, while also bringing to life the sounds of magic realism,” he continues.

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In addition to its musical features, ‘Samsara’ incorporates other traditional Balinese elements like dance, masks, and wayang (shadow puppets), while exploring socio-cultural themes.

Purchase tickets to ‘Samsara’ in Singapore on May 10 here.

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Managing Editor, follow her on Instagram.

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