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Dewa Budjana

Mahandini

Review by Gary Hill

Dewa Budjana is one of those artists you can count on for consistent quality. In terms of style of music, he's less consistent, but that's actually a good thing. This new album is a classic example. While the high quality standards run throughout, there is a wide range of sound and configuration. As is typical of his albums, there are a number of guests here. Instrumentally the most notable ones are Marco Minnemann and Jordan Rudess. If you like adventurous music with a lot of fusion leanings, you should seek out this disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Crowded
The keyboards that bring this in have a twisted kind of weirdness to them. The cut grows out from there to more of a mainstream fusion texture, but some of that edge remains making it feel a bit dangerous. I'm not quite sold on the vocals on this tune, but the cool hard-edged rock sound of the number really works. This is edgy and dramatic. The vocals work better on the more rocking portions of this, and the cut really gets intense at times. The instrumental break later in the number is a powerhouse. They take us into some mellower, but freaky, King Crimson-like weirdness at the end.
Queen Kanya
A mellower and powerful, yet moody progressive rock texture opens this. Guitar fills the air with some killer rock melody. The cut works out from there to a powered up progressive rock jam that has quite a bit of fusion in the mix. This thing gets downright metallic as it drives forward. Then it shifts gear completely to a full-on jazz treatment with a killer piano solo. This gets intense and fusion based as it drives out from there. There is some scat singing later in the track, and they explode out into some killer jamming after that to bring the whole thing home.
Hyang Giri
Dramatic and powerful, the vocals on this are unique and artsy. The whole opening section has a rather unsettling, but cool, Rock In Opposition kind of vibe. The cut shifts out from that point into something that's more mainstream fusion oriented and melodic. This piece just keeps shifting and changing with dramatic RIO meets world music taking over later. Layers of voices augment the voice from the first part as it builds. Then it shifts to allow for a smoking hot fusion guitar solo segment. There is some killer bass work built into this beast. This just keeps evolving and revisiting themes as it drives onward.
Jung Oman
Melodic and more consistent, this instrumental offers a bit of a respite at first from the craziness of the previous cut. While there are some excursions into more adventurous music, they don't stay around long. Instead, this is one of the most mainstream fusion pieces here. It also is quite compelling and effective.
ILW
This fires in fast paced and hard rocking. It's much more of a prog rocker, but still has plenty of fusion in the mix, too. This instrumental is dynamic and powerful. At times it leans more on the prog side, and at other points more on the pure fusion end of the spectrum. There is some pretty crazed instrumental work at points along this ride. 
Mahandini
Dramatic and a bit dangerous at the start, this makes its way toward more mainstream fusion as it continues to evolve. There is some killer bass work in an exploratory jazz jam around the three-minute mark. I dig the keyboard work that emerges as this works out from there. Guitar leads things into some soaring fusion further down the road. The drums get a chance to show off in a more spacey movement after that. This instrumental is a real winner.
Zone
This is another powerful cut that combines mainstream prog with fusion and more. It's perhaps one of the least challenging things here, but it has plenty to like and really rocks.
 
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