More than a few of us progheads, looking over into other genres and noting the plethora of global musos emitting truly fine work near and far, have wondered just what the hell might be going on beyond Western shores without our knowing it, convinced there must be a lot more than what little Columbia, Atlantic, and Geffen parsimoniously underwrite. Well, leave it to Leonardo Pavkovic, the Moonjune label's head honcho bad boy, to act where others only conjecture. He's been constantly unearthing a goldmine of fine fusion in the Far East, particularly Indonesian locales, and trotting it out for connoisseurs to wallow in. His latest find, Jakarta's Ligro and their Dictionary 2, is a sizzling prog power trio loaded to the eyeballs with chops and fire.
Agam Hamzah plays guitar like a cross between Alan Holdsworth, Gary Boyle, James Ulmer, even a bit of Sonny Sharrock, and, hell, his damped Bach intro to Stravinsky sounds like Dave Stewart playing keyboards from the old hallowed Egg. Adi Darmawan wields a throaty bass filling up the lower end of the spectrum while Gusti Hendy rattles his drums like a train engine cut loose from the tracks and heading for open skies. Stravinsky is in fact an excellent exposition in just how varied and ferocious Hamzah's approach is, going through several modal shifts while gaining relentlessly in power, speed, and atmospherics, the last segment similar to one of King Crimson's more esoteric explorations by way of a melting Mahavishnu Orchestra.
The lion's share of these songs are greatly extended jam sessions designed to blow minds and goggle eyes…should you ever be so fortunate as to catch Ligro in concert, that is. Hamzah and crew have the jazz spirit in them—again, not dissimilar to McLaughlin's most famous gig a la Birds of Fire in places—bringing it out in Future and elsewhere. I've been lately revivifying my old 70s love of Jukka Tolonen and Tasavallian Presidentti, and Don Juan falls squarely in that territory, a sophisticated exploration of rock, jazz, and fusion morphing back and forth at will. Prog isn't dead, y'all, it just smelled funny for a while (neo-prog), and is presently being resuscitated through such ensembles as Ligro.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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