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(63:49, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Open the Door, See the Ground 10:18 2. Conversation 8:03 3. Pop Sick Love Carousel 6:17 4. Reverie-2 14:51 5. Love Letter from Canada 4:27 6. Dangerous Kitchen 9:04 7. A Dancing Girl... 10:49 LINEUP: Reza Ryan – guitars Alfiah Akbar – drums Enriko Gultom – bass Adi Wijaya – keyboards With: Nicholas Combe - sax
Prolusion. The Indonesian quartet I KNOW YOU WELL MISS CLARA was formed back in 2009, originally a rehearsal band only, but when a gig proposal came their way they decided to take this project a step further. They were later signed to the US label Moonjune Records, which released their debut album "Chapter One" in the late summer of 2013.
Analysis. Moonjune Records is well known for its affection towards jazz rock and fusion, and I Know You Well Miss Clara is a foursome that fits quite nicely into that particular context, with arguably more of an emphasis on classic jazz rock than fusion as such. As with many such ventures the music is of an instrumental nature, and at least parts of it are improvisational as well, the band utilizing variations on earlier established themes or lead motifs to reorient themselves, as I experience their performances. The album as such is, broadly speaking, divided into two parts with a relatively brief intermission dividing the parts. The first four compositions are fairly regular jazz rock excursions as explored by a quartet of bass, guitars, drums and keyboards, with frail keyboard motifs used to establish the initial phases and usually continued as a mainstay throughout, while the additional instruments gradually grow onto the song. The guitar usually takes the lead for the solo runs, with sequences alternating slightly or more dramatically in sound and intensity throughout. Guitar soloing alternating with darker riffs, occasionally twisted instrument details may be applied, and there's usually a theme or motif repeated along the way, as mentioned. The compositions tend to be fairly smooth, rougher edged sounds used sparingly, and the different passages rely on nuances and careful reverbs rather than dramatic details to maintain tension. A repeat or alternate take on the opening passage is the usual choice when the compositions reach their conclusion. The slow, atmospheric and dreamladen creation Love Letter from Canada serves as a dividing factor on the album, and is in itself an interesting creation. Slow moving and smooth to the point of ambient, but with an underlying almost ghostly darkness that may just indicate that this song isn't at all based on happy memories or feelings. Saxophone player Nicholas Combe is added to the band for the final two tracks, the first of these applying his contributions to Dangerous Kitchen, a creation that opens with slight psychedelic vibes and subsequently develops into more of a distinctly jazz-oriented feature with room for bass and piano driven runs as well as sequences starring the saxophone, concluding with run-ins of a more chaotic and intense nature. Final track A Dancing Girl from Planet Marsavishnu Named After the Love is a more spirited affair, with room for darker toned guitar riffs, twisted guitar details and guitar soloing alongside the saxophone solo runs, and the overall atmosphere is more intense on this one.
Conclusion. As far as debut albums go, I Know You Well Miss Clara have made themselves a fine one with "Chapter One". A creation that first and foremost merits a description as an elegant and sophisticated venture, with room for some details of a more intense nature but with a main focus on smooth arrangements, subtle details and careful reverbs. Those who have a soft spot for instrumental jazz rock described in such a manner should find plenty to love on this disc.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 17, 2014
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