Suarasama was founded in the mid-1990s by Irwansyah Harahap and Rithaony Hutajulu, ethnomusicologists at University of North Sumatra. This exceptional ensemble draws on Indonesian musical traditions from North Sumatra, flavored with a dose of commercial pop world music stylings. Fajar Di Atas Awan
was recorded by Philip Yampolsky, a major force in preserving Indonesian music, back in 1997. I have a dozen or so of his stellar recordings for Smithsonian Folkways, which are absolutely the place to begin in approaching the music of this region. But this particular project was available only in a hard-to-find French edition until this 2008 release on the Drag City label. Hutajulu's voice is angelic: she is not your typical academic-turned-singer, but one of the finest vocalists you will hear on the world music scene. Harahap's accompaniment is a gentle ebb-and-flow in the background, impeccably played and sensitive to the aural atmospherics. This would be an easy recording to miss, even for those who seek out new and exotic disks from afar; but it is worth tracking down.
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