OUT THERE – DEWA BUDJANA
Indonesian powerhouse guitarist cuts a crafty and eloquent fusion date.
Dewa Budjana (guitar, soundscapes), Paul McCandless (soprano saxophone), Joey Alexander (piano), Gary Husband (piano, synth), Carlitos del Puerto (bass), Ben Williams (bass), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Mateus Asato (guitar), Imee Ooi (vocals)Simon Phillips (drums), Dave Weckl (drums)
in 2020 & 2021 in the USA and Jakarta, Indonesia
as MJR-115 in 2021
Nothing like being surprised by quirky pieces of challenging music, in this case Naurora by guitarist Dewa Budjana. Budjana has been a star performer in his home country of Indonesia with his rock band GIGI for twenty-five years. Naurora partly draws on rock, musically but also visually. The cover pictures a decidedly flower power-ish protagonist, even with a tinge of Jimi Hendrix.
Budjana is approximately twice the age that Hendrix was in his year of passing and an accomplished player. Sweeping melodies are hit with all the verve of a leaping gazelle. Budjana niftly develops the architecture of his songs, veering from melodies, secondary motives and bass intermezzos to shifts of rhythm and urgent and intelligent solos by Budjana and pianists Joey Alexander and Gary Husband and soprano saxophonist Paul McCandless. The West of Zappa’s Hot Rats, Gong, Jaco Pastorius and Billy Cobham meets the folkish East of Bali. Regardless of references, Budjana’s fusion is wholly original. Recorded remotely in the USA and Jakarta, Naurora draws on the expertise of top-notch players like heavyweight drummers Simon Phillips and Dave Weckl and bassist Carlitos del Puerto and comes off as interactive as a real time studio date.
Personally, I feel that the first part of the record is the most convincing. Naurora has all the power of classic prog and swagger of symphonic rock. Swarna Jigga features a truly masterful guitar story. Budjana alternates between two solos by overdubbing, engaging in conversation with himself. He’s fiery but balanced. Budjana’s beautifully sustained, ringing tone is like the pleading voice of a lady in waiting. Waiting to put this particular piece of Naurora on repeat time and again is out of the question. Here it goes again.
Find Naurora on Moonjune here.