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Dewa Budjana

Naurora

Review by Gary Hill

You can always count on Dewa Budjana to deliver high quality and inventive fusion, no matter who he's playing with. This album fulfills that promise with style. It's a powerhouse release packed full of style, killer playing and exceptional instrumental work. Budjana (guitars, soundscapes) is joined here by a number of talented musicians including Dave Weckle (drums), Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Simon Phillips (drums) on various numbers.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Naurora
The title track starts the album with atmospheric, ambient music that features some piano along with spacey elements. Eventually it drives upward with a fast paced fusion styled building process. Hard-edged guitar rises up and takes into some dramatic and powerful directions from there. This thing works through some pretty amazing and interesting directions as the fusion muse pushes the musicians along the road. There is a dropped back movement later that has some killer bass work. I love the melodic and grooving piano solo that comes in further down the musical road. There is some particularly meaty guitar that emerges as that piano continues exploring the sonic landscape. This whole thing just continues to drive forward and turn corner after corner from there. It gets very intense, but then drops back down to mellower zones at the end.
Swarna Jingga
Some killer funk sounds bring this cut into being. There is a feeling as it gets under way of what Prince might have sounded like if he'd done instrumental prog. That said, as it twists around the corner, I'm reminded of both Al Di Meola and Allan Holdsworth. That second name makes sense because the one time I saw Holdsworth live, Jimmy Johnson was playing bass, and he's the bass player on this tune. The piece continues to evolve with a lot of magic and style in the mix. It has more of melodic jazz fusion concept in-grained much of the time.
Kmalasana
In some ways this drives more of a straight-line. Yet, it's still dramatic and powerful There is plenty of killer fusion here, and it leans toward more mainstream instrumental prog, too.
Sabana Shanti
Mellower and intricate music brings this into being. This is more pure jazz, calling to mind things like Pat Metheny for me. This twists in some intriguing directions later and has some cool grooves built into it. Some of the piano is positively incendiary.
Blue Mansion
I love the dramatic fusion groove that opens this track. The cut has a into some of the most unusual and challenging territory of the disc, but still returns to more melodic zones from there. The burst into a soaring jam beyond the early modes is classy. Then it returns to the main theme from that point. The piece gets into to some dramatic exploration with a couple changes. It works to some more freeform jamming during one of those. It really gets intense as they continue to expand, explore and dance around one another in the jamming. Everyone puts in a killer performance on this, but I have to admit a particular interest in the smoking hot bass work. There is a section where that bass gets to show off, too. This is just such an effective powerhouse track. It's also a great way to end the set.
 
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