Review of Urban Gamelan Album by 3 Skidoo

News & Reviews
11. 23 Skidoo Urban Gamelan (Album - Ronin)
Whilst there were those whose love of electronica in the early eighties would have seen them choosing sudden death rather than having to go out for the night without makeup and a frilly shirt, there were others behind the scenes who saw things very differently - those who have survived the test of time.

23 Skidoo are one of those bands, they stuck firmly to their ethos of real instrumentation over and above the electronic faze which was then sweeping the nation. Although, at the time, Urban Gamelan (first released in 1984) was no triumph, popularity since has grown so much that it can now enjoy the status of being a rare and highly sought after collectors item.

Besides housing F.U.G.I., the earlier version of the much sampled Coup a track which would be recognisable by most as containing the distinctive breaks from the Chemical Brothers Block Rockin Beats, Urban Gamelan is a celebration of abstract drums and wayward percussion.

The album is actually divided into two parts. The first contains the more western, funky rock side whilst the second is made purely of live recordings. It is basic and very minimal. They used age-old Indonesian music as the template, making beats, for example, with pieces of scrap metal as opposed to traditional instruments and hence creating a very raw and mesmeric sound.

Although difficult to stomach in parts (the second half has no sniff of what you might call a melody), it nevertheless oozes sentiment, intrigue and above all comfortableness with an earthy, tribal and uncomplicated sound that sits one hundred percent within the rural terrain of Indonesia rather than with the two dimensional electronica of its Western sister.