SOAS University of London

Dr Nick Gray releases experimental Gamelan album, 'My Tricksy Spirit'

24 August 2017

Dr Nick Gray, Senior Lecturer in the Music of South East Asia at SOAS University of London, has released the self-titled debut album My Tricksy Spirit, based on his expertise and passion for Gamelan music.

Dr Gray integrates traditional instruments commonly reserved for rituals with electronica and ambient rock to deliver a fresh interpretation on the Gamelan sound. The instrument at the heart of the album is the Gendér wayang – a metallophone played with mallets by either a duo or quartet in order to produce sonorous chimes.

My Tricksy Spirit

From L-R: Roxanne Aisthorpe, Charlie Cawood, Joe Chapman and Dr Nick Gray

Dr Gray said: "My Tricksy Spirit seemed to emerge naturally from my long involvement with Balinese music, which I've been studying for over 30 years, as well as my experience of composing and playing in various rock bands. Balinese Gamelan composers are also constantly experimenting with new ways of exploring and reimagining their music and I was inspired by their example. Hopefully, the album will prove popular both here and in Indonesia as well."

Dr Gray’s masterful simulation of counterpoint and polyphony comes from the years he spent in Indonesia learning the gendér wayang under the pupillage of master musician I Wayan Loceng of Sukawati in Bali.

My Tricky Spirit is made up of multi-instrumentalists and SOAS alumnus, Charlie Cawood and Rob Shipster, who studied MMus Performance at SOAS Department of Music. Vocals were provided by Roxanne Ainsthorpe, a singer and barrister.

Nick Gray also composed the Gamelan piece, “391” to mark SOAS’ centenary has been at events such as the opening of the Paul Webley Wing and the SOAS alumni Weekend. A video of the performance can be watched here.

My Tricksy Spirit is available to pre-order from Bandcamp