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Dwiki Dharmawan

Rumah Batu

Review by Gary Hill

You just can't go wrong with Dwiki Dharmawan. His brand of fusion merged with world music is always effective. This new album is just more proof of that. While a good portion of this is purely instrumental music, there are quite a few songs with world music vocals. The disc has a wide range and some great music.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rintak Rebana

Rising mellow, piano and flute are a big part of the first movement here. This evolves gradually with some great fusion, prog and world music elements all on display. Around the two minute mark (this is over ten and a half minutes long), percussion takes over. The song rises up from there to a killer powered up fusion jam that still has a lot of that world music element at play. They work things through various movements and changes as it drives forward. A percussion break leads it into some seriously spacey stuff as this continues. That gives way to an intense guitar solo driven movement that makes me think quite a bit of Al Di Meola. It gets pretty crazed for a time, but then drops back to a more playful, experimental type of sound to continue. Around the seven minute mark they transition to more of an old school jazz sound and piano drives a lot of that next part of the piece. They work it back out to more fiery fusion, and that motif makes up the rest of the number.

Paris Barantai
Piano brings this into being with decidedly classical music based textures. That holds it for nearly the first minute. Even then, only percussion comes up gradually at first. Eventually this takes on more of a jazz meets prog vibe as it continues to work through. Once it becomes more of a full arrangement I'm reminded of Traffic to a large degree. A voice joins bringing both world music and scat singing references to it. It gets into more classic instrumental jazz territory after a time. The piano really creates a lot of the cut's structure. At over 11 and a half minutes of music, this is another extended piece. They make good use of that time to do a lot of exploration. Different flavors and textures dominate different movements. I really love the expressive guitar work that takes over during a solo after the seven minute mark. The vocals return further down this musical road, and more world sound returns with them. The jamming that emerges beyond that includes some intense flute work.
Impenan
The opening movement of this is nearly pure world music. There are vocals here, too, but this time they are soaring female ones. They really augment that world music thing. It works out toward more pure jazz and fusion on the instrumental movement.
Janger
World percussion elements start this number and drive it forward. It eventually makes its way out to more standard fusion to continue. I love some of the soaring guitar soloing on this. It's so expressive.
Rumah Batu Suite Part 1 - Kaili
Over twelve minutes long, this is one of the most extensive pieces here. The early segment features world music vocals lending something interesting to the piece. It works forward by exploring on that basic concept. Different world music vocals takes over after the four minute mark. It gets pretty intense before shifting to more of a pure jazz jam. As it drops to just piano it gets classical and a bit freaky. The piano segues into the next part of the suite.
Rumah Batu Suite Part 2 - Parjelanan

The piano from the previous movement brings this into being. At over fourteen minutes of music, it's the longest track here. It gets pretty trippy and spacey as it works upward. The piano is really the main element for the first five minutes or so. After that it explodes out into some pretty crazed freeform styled jamming. It gets noisy and dramatic. Yet there are still waves of space sound in the mix. It drops down to spacey textures after that segment plays through and reaches its soaring peak. As it builds back outward more standard jazz merges with spacey music. This gets pretty trippy before it ends.

Samarkand
More of a melodic jazz fusion treatment starts this cut and works it forward. They get into some seriously soaring territory as this drives onward. The guitar does some amazing stuff, but you can't discount the piano or drums, either. All in all, this fiery number is one of my favorites here. It's so powerful.
Selamatkan Orang Utan
With more world music vocals, tribal percussion and other elements really add to the world music vibe on this number.
 
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