Flute & Gamelan of West Java
- Recordings by Mike Steyn
Tangent - TGS 137 - P.1978
Map of Java
Kenong Gong Chimes
(It does not say so anywhere, but I assume that this is Mike Steyn himself.)
Michael Eugene Steyn, record producer: born Cape Town 23 July 1931, died London 3 January 1999.
Mike Steyn played an unusual part in the musical life of this country, particularly in the folk revival of the Sixties and Seventies.
While other record companies and producers responded to public interest by promoting the forgotten or neglected treasures of Anglo-American folk music, Steyn went beyond the confines of the West, to Africa and Asia. He launched a number of outstanding musicians and singers, some celebrated in their own countries but unknown in Britain, others new and obscure, and launched their international careers. Their music inspired and influenced musicians and singer-songwriters as diverse as Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel, and bands such as Genesis and Fairport Convention.
A fine musician himself, with an unerring ear for tone and colour, Steyn sensed the potential of artists on first hearing them. His high musical standards and his unusual disregard for commercial gain made Tangent Records, the company he started in the late Sixties, a badge of quality. He distributed his productions world-wide through record companies with aims and reputations similar to his own, among them the distinguished Harmonia Mundi in France and Lyrichord in the United States. As a result many of his recordings have endured and become classics of the genre.
Born in South Africa, Steyn showed a precocious aptitude for music. He was virtually self-taught until a bursary brought him to England to study composition and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music, where he was spotted as potentially a star conductor. Among his contemporaries was Jacqueline Dupre, whom he conducted playing Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Guildhall Orchestra. His energy and passionate love of music inspired the members of the orchestra and won him a second grant to continue his studies for a further two years.
Tangent's first three records were of Ethiopian folk music, recorded in Ethiopia by the late Jean Jenkins, then the Curator of Music at the Horniman Museum. Other recordings followed, and in 1976 he released a box of six LPs of music from all over the Islamic world, to coincide with the World of Islam Festival in London - it is now a collectors' item. There followed seven records of Scottish music with Edinburgh University, three LPs with Mustafa Tettiy-Addy, the Ghanaian drummer and one of Africa's best-loved musicians, and many more - some 120 recordings of music from all over the world.
When he sensed that his job was done, he left to return to classical music and composition, handing over Tangent's distribution to Topic Records, one of Britain's oldest and best folk labels. Unfortunately he also discovered he had cancer. He devoted the same single-minded effort he had deployed in his work to combat his illness, and succeeded in winning long periods of remission - he was given six months by his doctors and lived six years.
From the obituary in The Independent by Shusha Guppy
A1 Mupu Kembang 5'10
A2 Catrik 5'01
A3 Sinyur 4'52
A4 Manintin 4'40
B1 Srimpi Jakarta 6'15
B2 Bendrong 5'40
B3 Jipang 3'12
B4 Putri 6'10
B5 Renggong Buyut 1'59
Well I was thinking that we need a little change of climate. Here it was snowing and raining and very grey again and I got a bit low...
But when I heard some very nice music from Madagascar recently posted on Luckys blog (you'll find the links in the sidebar) I felt the sun coming back and I was feeling much better so I started thinking about other climate changers and this record definitely is one. It is also very mellow and most refined, and especially the first side, even if I have started to get more and more sensitive to flutes, this Suling is not at all shrill and most soothing to my ears. Hope you enjoy this music as much as I do and that the warmth emanating from it will thaw also you from the frosty winter that refuses to leave. Well just in case if you are in need of that, otherwise I am sure the music also has beneficiary qualities on many other levels.
Kendang drums and Kemanac finger cymbals
Large and medium Gong.
Sulaeman the Suling flute master.
Yuyu Kangkang - the river crab.