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(48:54, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Cloud of Foggy 6:57 2. Joged Kahyangan 5:24 3. Dang Hyang Story 5:40 4. As You Leave My Nest 5:01 5. Majik Blue 5:33 6. Erskoman 7:44 7. Guru Mandala 6:16 8. Borra's Ballad 6:19 LINEUP: Dewa Budjana Ц guitars, synth guitars Larry Goldings Ц Hammond, piano Bob Mintzer Ц saxophone, clarinet Jimmy Johnson Ц bass Peter Erskine Ц drums With: Janis Siegel Ц vocals
Prolusion. Indonesian guitarist and composer Dewa BUDJANA has been active in the Indonesian music scene for more than twenty years by now. He is probably best known for his long tenure in Indonesian rock band Gigi, but has also established a name for himself as a solo artist in the last two decades. "Joged Kahyangan" is his sixth solo production to date, and was released through the US label Moonjune Records in 2013.
Analysis. While Dewa Budjana is an Indonesian artist, this album isn't one where he draws upon much of his cultural heritage. His backing band on this occasion is a US based one, consisting of fairly well known musicians in jazz from what I understand, and the album as such was recorded in California. All of these aspects fairly likely to have influenced the overall sound explored, and a few exceptions aside you wouldn't suspect that this was a production by an artist based in Asia. The eight compositions are all light in tone and spirit, where careful arrangements and an emphasis on the lighter parts of the tonal scale has a firm emphasis alongside frail, delicate instrumental performances and a joyful, uplifting atmosphere are the order of the day. A carefully controlled yet jubilant excursion, of the kind that needs listeners able to pay careful attention to subtle details and nuances to be able to fully enjoy and understand the music at hand. Budjana himself rarely takes a dominant command, his plucked acoustic guitars, carefully conveyed guitar soloing and occasional use of darker toned guitar riffs are more of a careful and subdued presence. When he is given the limelight he does so in an empathic and delicate manner, never overshadowing his fellow musicians while doing so. The same care is given by all the musicians involved: if there's a bass solo, organ solo or drum solo involved at some point, none of them take over the song as such at that point, but tend to opt for a restrained and carefully controlled delivery. Usually with one or more instruments as dampened and occasionally interwoven sound and mood providers. Smooth, elegant and sophisticated are likely key words to be sued to describe this production, and the album comes across as a fairly uniform entity as well. All eight compositions touch upon some common bases in sound and mood, and often in expression too. The sole track to feature vocals, As You Leave My Nest, functions very well in this context too, Janis Siegel's controlled delivery with some subtle emotional peaks towards the end is a perfect approach to this gentle song, and as far as delicate ballads go, final track Borra's Ballad showcases just how much you can accomplish in that department with a frail acoustic guitar and dampened Hammond organ as the dominant instruments. For a more spirited experience, Erskoman is where drummer Erskine is given the limelight and makes use of it in an elaborate, sublime manner throughout. Those keen for sounds of a more exotic nature will find the world music flavors on Guru Mandala to be of interest, but personally I found the more subtly exotic sounding Dang Hyang Story to be the most intriguing experience. Nifty percussion details and a subtly unusual tonal timbre for some of the central themes details that managed to enthrall me here, alongside a careful use of instrumental and tonal variation.
Conclusion. Positive and joyful jazz rock with a certain emphasis on jazz is what Dewa Budjana brings to the table on "Joged Kahyangan", an uplifting ride through eight compositions carefully exploring a joyful mood and atmosphere in smooth, elegant arrangements. Those fond of the softer side of jazz rock should be a prime audience for this production, an album to take note of if subtle but jubilant instrumental jazz rock sounds like an interesting prospect to spend some time investigating.
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