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Discus - 2000 - "1st"

(61 min, Mellow)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Lamentation & Fantasia Gamelantronique 8:15 
2.  For This Love 6:20
3.  Doc's Tune 7:49
4.  Condissonance 5:55
5.  Dua Cermin 5:44
6.  Wujudkan 4:42
7.  Violin Metaphysics 5:41
8.  Anugerah 4:14
9.  Contrasts 12:57

LINEUP:

Iwan Hasan - guitars, guitar-harp; Balinese percussion; lead vocals
Fadhil Indra - keyboards; backing vocals
Eko Partitur - violin; electronics
Anto Praboe - clarinets, saxophones & flute
Krisna Prameswara - keyboards; programming
Hajunaji - acoustic drums, electronic percussion
Kiki Caloh - bass guitar
With:
Nonnie - vocals 
                        

Prolusion. This is the first album by the already well-known Indonesian ensemble DISCUS. Vitaly's review of its follow-up, "Tot Licht" (2004), can be read here, while I didn't have a chance to familiarize myself with Discus until now.

Analysis. It's very pleasant to recognize that the geography of progressive music has widened its borders so much in the course of the last ten or fifteen years. Many admirable units of the genre have appeared in South America and Asia, and in this case, the Indonesians give us one of the brightest examples of a truly innovative approach to composition and performance with Discus. The general style of the album can be defined as a highly progressive and unique manifestation of Jazz-Fusion with elements of RIO and Indonesian ethnic music, though there are also numbers, which are distinctly in a pop-jazz style. Lamentation & Fantasia Gamelantronique, the opening track, represents a union of all of the listed styles, with an addition of Metal, but without pop-jazz influences. The kaleidoscope of themes and arrangements is wonderful; the solo parts are expressive, and the wordless vocal is full of emotion. It's a real masterpiece, complex and atmospheric at the same time. Next to it, For This Love, is also very impressive. The female vocals and the instrumental parts are jazzier; the guitar and clarinet solos' virtuosity may become the subject of envy even for many famous musicians. The third composition, Doc's Tune, is instrumental; its harmonic theme is somewhat undeveloped, but on the whole, it works well, because of the skilful improvisations on guitar, wind instruments, keyboards and violin. Parts of the latter reminds me much of Jean-Luc Ponty. Another voiceless opus, Condissonance, is a prodigy in comparison with the previous one. The RIO influences are as essential here as on the first track, but the rhythm section is absent. It's unique and original throughout, without any analogies and is doubtlessly one of disc's masterworks. Three vocal compositions, Dua Cermin, Wujudkan and Anugerah, look somewhat bland by comparison to the rest. They're smooth and are rather expressive melodically, but their pop-jazz arrangements have only one true virtue, which is the musicians' virtuosity. Violin Metaphysics is atmospheric, and its major mood rendering was perhaps the main goal the musicians tried to achieve to. This track is meditative and is full of clear energy. The contents of the final opus Contrasts correspond to its title completely. There are rich multicolored orchestrations here; the massively fragmented sounds transform to lucid ones, and the thematic development is always interesting and unpredictable. The composition is cinematographic, but in the best meaning of the concept.

Conclusion. If the three jazz-pop songs had been omitted from this album, it would've been a masterpiece. Anyway, I can highly recommend Discus, above all to fans of Jazz-Fusion and RIO.

VF: November 14, 2005


Related Links:

Musea Records
Mellow Records


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