Djalma - "The Rags Of Larium Pali" (pre-release excerpt) (Orphan Sounds 2000, 004)
Jeff Gburek - "Guitar Solos Berlin" (2000, Cassette)

From Aural Innovations #13 (October 2000)

This pre-release of the new Djalma CD includes one 42 minute track recorded live at Eco Books in Brooklyn, New York. Similar in style to the music on the "m/m/e" CD reviewed in AI #10, this too could be described as avant-garde Middle Eastern psychedelia. The combination of sitar, experimental guitar, horns, bells, and various found sounds is intriguing, and as the music develops I'd say this delves into the floating acoustic psych realm even more so than the music on "m/m/e". Eastern ragas meet chamber avant-garde for a drifting, and somewhat schizophrenic ride that alternates between the psychedelic and avant experimental spheres. I'm struggling with my descriptions but take that as a positive because by adding psychedelic elements to the mix Djalma have added an interesting twist to a form of improvisational music that has been begging for a boost. And, like on "m/m/e", the music evolves quite smoothly across it's 42 minute length, successfully holding my attention with its subtle twists and turns, though one must be in a patient and relaxed mood if the mind if going to absorb music that is simultaneously meditational and chaotic. AI readers who also enjoy abstract improvisational rock and chamber music will find Djalma's music surprisingly accessible, and those who are interested but have yet to explore more eclectic improvisational music might find this a friendly starting point.

On Guitar Solos Berlin we have Djalma guitarist Jeff Gburek performing solo guitar improvisations. On the surface this is difficult music. There's little in the way of melody, but plenty of noise, feedback, dissonance, and subtle chaos. On the other hand, there's a strangely pleasant aura surrounding Gburek's playing that serves the same function that melody typically would. That is, notes taken individually or in phrases are appealing and uplifting rather than irritating, and for experimental music this has a spacey quality to it that feels like the sonic equivalent of a Jackson Pollack painting... listen closely, open your mind, and you'll be swept away on an abrasive cloud of sound. Think psychedelic Frith or Bailey. I even hear several occurrences of what are clearly Blues, or Gburek's take on the style anyway. Not unlike electric, and more extreme, John Fahey. Gburek moves quite smoothly through multiple themes and playing styles. Speaking of Blues, there are some enjoyably wah'd guitar bits that bring to mind Beefheart guitar moments. Then there are some bleeping space radio transmission portions that sound like the Forbidden Planet soundtrack played backwards. But there are also some highly ambient soundscape passages that create a mellow New Agey atmosphere. Interesting stuff and lots of variety that fans of solo experimental guitar should enjoy.

For more information you can email Jeff Gburek at

Jeff doesn't have a web site so to give readers more info right here I'm reproducing below some promo material that he emailed me:

Djalma Movement and Music Ensemble

Djalma began to take shape in January 1999 as a collaboration between Jeff Gburek and Ephia. Inspired by the integrity of Javanese and African dance and musical traditions, they decided to create what American composer Harry Partch called "corporeal music", an art form that kept dance and theater as the ritual parameters for music. Carrying instruments from the Javanese Gamelan orchestra back to New York City, Gburek built frames for the iron and bronze keys of the xylophonesque instruments and, along with the two-stringed fiddle called rebab (now electrified), bonang, electro-acoustic mbira, and new percussion instruments built from scrap metal, he began performing with Ephia at local venues. By March of 1999 Djalma already had its first new member, Neel Murgai, playing sitar and Persian daf. Bridging and blinding the gaps between the Indian and Javanese tonal systems, the ensemble now had a core offset from the by now traditional free jazz/ improv/noise/new music and world music sounds, achieved by re-tuning of the instruments and rethinking the ways of playing them. In the summer of 1999 rehearsal began with two new members, Rich Gross on clarinet and Chris Forsyth on electric guitar, both sonic chameleons without parallel who had been working together in the guitar trio All Time Present. One of the first performances took place at the adventurous C.O.M.A. series at ABC No Rio on the Lower East Side and was attended by the flautist Muriel Vergnaud who soon thereafter joined the group.

Since then Djalma has performed with full arsenal at The Cooler, Knitting Factory and other venues familiar to the improv scene, including a stint on New Year's 1999 on Free Radio 103.5 in Williamsburg with Daniel Carter, Blaise Siwula and Eyedoor, in a full evening's tribute to the spirit of American sonic creativity. But the group has also performed out of doors, following Ephia's vision of site-specific dance, performing in the parks and street meridians where the dream-effect of the dance clashes with the realities of daily-life's dream. The most recent performances have been duets for Ephia and Gburek in Berlin at the Post Furhampt Festival 2000 and in Grosseto and Roccataderighi, both in Tuscany. Djalma's CD, The Rags Of Larium Pali" has been issued by Orphan Sounds.

Prehistory (member bios)

Chris Forsyth, an electric guitarist, plays with a variety of musicians in and out of the New York Area. In addition to All Time Present (w/Rich Gross, Ethan Sklar and Toshi Makihara) with whom he has played throughout the eastern U.S.A. over the past year, he also plays guitar alongside saxophonist Bonnie Kane, and drummer Ray Sage in the free rock jazz trio W.O.O. Revelator. W.O.O. has released two widely acclaimed CD's on the Sweet Stuff Media label. Chris has released a self-titled duo CD with Ethan Sklar, a solo guitar/radio 7", a self-titled All Time Present CD and Left and Right' a CD of time lapsed duets with Californian Ernesto Diaz-Infante on the Bottomfeeder and Pax recording labels.

Jeff Gburek has been playing guitar for 26 years and "Opposites Infect" his first solo CD of guitar compositions and improvisations comes out on Orphan Sounds in September. He has recorded a 7" and a CD as guitarist with San Francisco post-rock group Poltroon. He began his studies of gamelan music in Java with Pak Suhardi and played Javanese and Sundanese styles on the island and with the New York Indonesian consulate gamelan. He has played violin, guitar and rebab with various New York improvisors, such as Daniel Carter, and jazz-world hip-hop trumpeter Graham Haynes. He has performed in Berlin with East German trombonist Konrad Bauer and with dancer Ephia.

Ephia follows the path of the dance called Butoh. Her teachers include Kazuo and Yoshito Ohno, Min Tanaka, Anzu Furukawa, Diego Pinon and Nia Love. She has been performing her own site-specific dance in New York since 1995. Her latest work, Null Achtzehn, appeared in Berlin's... Undabdie Post 2000 festival of young experimental art and on the hillsides of Roccatederighi and at Teatro Scuola Grosseto, Italy. She appeared in Anzu Furukawa's Goya, performed at Ballhaus Naunystrasse, Berlin and Theater Artaud, San Francisco. Her interest in ritual dance has led her to study with the National Dance Ensemble of Ghana and with Sutiyah Sasminta of Yogyakarta, Java.

Rich Gross has been an active presence on the New York improv scene for almost ten years. He has performed with some of NYC's finest musicians, including percussionist Sean Meehan, bassist Matthew Heyner (No Neck Blues Band, Test) multi-reedist Daniel Carter, keyboardist Masako Yokouchi, and Ed Chang (Spin 17). He often plays clarinet and saxophone in these settings. Rich has also studied Baroque and Renaissance recorder with Ken Wollitz. He appears on Ed Chang's "Blindfold" CD and is featured as guitarist on both recordings of All Time Present.

Neel Murgai began his musical studies with the trombone at age 11. He went on to teach himself guitar and to compose original music. His studies of sitar began in 1994 with Pandit Ravindra Narayan Goswarmi in Benares. In New York City he has continued with Khrishna Bhatt (student of Nikil Banerjee and Ravi Shankar). Neel has learned the basics of Persian rhythm from the Persian classical music master Jalal Zolfonun and his son Soheil. In addition to traditional Indian and Persian music, he performs regularly with Dhafusion and plays daf drum alongside avant guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors in the group Haunted House and he can be heard on their CD "Up In Flames" on Erstwhile records.


Javanese Gamelan instruments:

slenthem, 6 keyed metallophone with resonators, slendro
saron sanga, 9 keyed metallophone, slendro
saron peking, 6 keyed metallophone, slendro
bonang, 12 horizontally played gongs, slendro
saron, 7 keys, pelog
rebab, two stringed upright fiddle


Two Thai Gongs
Two Tin Baking Sheets
One Iron Griddle
Two Steel Baking Pans


Lancelot Modulator
Shortwave Radio
Electro-Acoustic Mbira
Electric Guitar
Sampler, Tape Loops


Saxophone, Clarinet, Baritone Recorder

String instruments:

Egyptian Oud
Turkish Saz


Persian Daf
Calibrated Coffee Cans

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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