A fascinating fusion of South Korean shamanic rituals with contemporary percussion and video work.

Earth Cry, an international collaboration between Synergy Percussion and Korean folk masters Noreum Machi, fuses references to the shamanic rituals of South Korea with contemporary percussion and video work by Samuel James. Each work evolves, both musically and visually, emerging and unfolding, to create unique soundscapes that explore themes of cultural exchange and the natural world.  

Tree Rain/After Earth Cry delicately opens out, maintaining a sense of spaciousness. A call to prayer played on ancient orthodox Christian instruments intermingle with a warm marimba melody inspired by Peter Sculthorpe’s re-imagining of songs from Arnhem Land combined with an inverted version of the ancient Korean Chilche rhythm.

The hypnotic gong ostinato, in Wastelands I & II, propels the descent into whirling chaos as it gradually diminishes in length. Traditional Korean wind instruments mix with modern western percussion to create a fiery and disquieting conflict.  

Water Song, a traditional song from the Kiongi province, offers a moment of stasis; a powerfully intimate moment, made more special by the use of the everyday. Water, plastic bowls and stones create a rich, nuanced texture. 

The Small Drum Dance, in the Samul Nori tradition, was nothing short of visually mesmerising. A swirling ribbon, attached to a traditional Korean hat, forming ever more complex patterns, propelled by the Buk drum and the unsettling interjections of the marimba, bass drum, blown shell and whirly tubes was a furious, yet thrilling hurricane of sound and motion.

Pulnori and Toorongheghi weaved two of the central structures in South-East Coast Byeol shaman ritual structures with a melody once again borrowed from Peter Sculthorpe, this time from his Piano Concerto. Using contemporary percussion techniques, this piece achieves a complex, put well judged synthesis of ritual and experimentation, ancient tradition and cutting-edge invention.

Sanjo Marimba, links the complex harmonic world of J.S’s Sarabande from Partita 2 BWV 1004 with the classical Korean tradition of Sanjo, for instrumentalists to learn the rhythms of Pansori (traditional opera), transcending these seemingly disparate genres with elegant simplicity.

A sense of light and clarity defines Short Flight as the shining sounds of the marimba and vibraphone reach upward, driven by the kangaroo skin drum. Passing rain, a dynamic example of precision timing by the Noreum Machi impels the concert to its peak using the Chungoo drums to virtuosic effect. Medoji, born of a jam session, retains its improvisatory nature; the joy and freedom of creation evident from all performers. 

Led by Timothy Constable (Synergy) and Kim Juhong (Noreum Machi) this collaboration delivers some unique music that both challenges and engages, but beyond this it also enlightens us to the power of music to connect.