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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dewa Budjana

and Jimmy Johnson & Vinnie Colaiuta - Surya Namaskar (Vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

There is something to be said for the tactile experience of opening up a new vinyl LP, pulling out the disc and feeling that heft in your hand. There’s a certain magical sense of expectation when you place it on the turntable and queue up the needle to the groove. This vinyl version of the latest Dewa Budjana helped me to relive that. The thing is, once I sat down to listen, the warmth of the sound made it even better. I have reviewed this on CD, so for the sake of consistency (it’s the same music) this review will include that one. Let’s just say, though, that this comes to life in vinyl form in a way it can’t on CD (and especially digital copy).

This is a purely instrumental disc. It’s also a purely successful one. It’s mostly fusion, but then again, isn’t fusion really a combination of rock and jazz? That’s really one of the basic configurations of progressive rock. And, this does land on the rock side at times here. For those reasons, I’ve included it under progressive rock. The thing is, fans of fusion and prog will both love this thing. It’s a great set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Side A
Fifty
Although the opening here is fairly mellow and atmospheric, it’s also ominous, heavy and menacing. It moves slowly with changes happening gradually. There are comparisons to be made to King Crimson and also Rock in Opposition. Yet, this also is not far removed from fusion. When it gets into a real rocking mode, it’s more like King Crimson merged with fusion. The piece continues to evolve with new sections emerging here and there. Often times the changes are more like the music morphing from one thing to another. Overall, though, the prevailing element is a fusion one in the later segments. That said, there are some moments that do work towards more pure progressive rock, too. This is a real powerhouse with some impressive jamming in place.
Duaji & Guruji
Alternating between more melodic and more freeform fusion like sounds, this really strides the fence between prog and jazz. This one also covers a lot of musical territory. There is some seriously hard rocking guitar built into it.
Capistrano Road

A bit mellower and less dynamic, this has a great melodic tone to it. It’s almost pure fusion, but there are hints of progressive rock in the mix, too. It’s got a real classic fusion sound to it.

Lamboya

I love the rubbery kind of vibe that runs underneath this piece. It’s a pretty perfect melding of prog and fusion sounds. It’s also a particularly effective composition. They take this through some pretty cool changes as it continues. It’s actually one of the most impressive numbers here. Given the competition, that says a lot.

Side B
Kalingga
There are some non-lyrical vocals in this piece. The opening section has a lot of world music in it. From there it works to something that’s hard-edged and quite psychedelic. That sound carries much of the piece, but it does shift out to a more melodic fusion jam and a mellow psychedelic one at various times here. It does also work out later to a real freeform fusion section that’s a real powerhouse.
Campuhan Hill

More of a pure fusion song, this one also covers a lot of musical ground. It gets pretty intense at times, but remains more cohesive and restrained than some of the other music here.

Surya Namaskar

Here is another that’s a bit less dynamic. It’s got a real melodic fusion vibe. The guitar really steals most of the show. That said, the bass gets some chances to shine here. This is one of the most readily accessible pieces here.

Dalem Waturenggong
This is another that falls more in the vein of pure fusion. There’s quite a bit of range here, though. This has more melodic sections and more freeform crazed ones. The contrast between those extremes works very well. This is an awesome piece of music on a disc that’s full of awesome music. It’s a great way to end things in style.
 
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