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Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002

babar sings!

"First it was Frogs of North America invading our record bins, then it was Antarctic Seals and Penguins, followed by Insects in Stored Foodstuffs... now it's Elephants from Thailand! Brilliant recordings by non-human, um, sound-artists that we just can't get enough of here at Aquarius. In this case, the elephants are not just making their natural noises, they are indeed playing instruments! You may have read about this project in the New York Times -- when we found out about it we immediately contacted the label and ordered a whole bunch (based also on the on-line sample we heard at www.mulatta.org) and now here they are. These are elephants from a elephant preseve in Thailand who have been trained to play specially-built instruments (many marimba-like instruments similar to the traditional Thai renat, as well as such things as harmonicas, drums, and even a stringed "electric bass"), but they haven't been trained *what* to play, it's all improvised with minimal human guidance! Yet it's definitely music. It was kind of an experiment to find out how the creatures might express themselves, and we'd say it was very successful indeed. If we didn't know these were elephants, we'd think this was a strange No Neck Blues Band recording or something. Imagine a stumbling, primitive hippy folk jam on gamelan instruments, but not one that's random or erratic. The elephants play steady beats, the struck gongs or chimes interspersed with their vocalizations as well. With no overdubs and few edits this is certainly a very impressive recording!"