FAME Review: Dewa Budjana - Dawai in Paradise
Dewa Budjana - Dawai in Paradise

Dawai in Paradise

Dewa Budjana

Moonjune Records - MJR051

Available from Moonjune Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Dewa Budjana is the latest of the Pacific Rim guitarists the MoonJune Label has been working on exposing the West to, and Budjana's a guy who, even way over in his sector of the map, discovered all the top-notch Western fusion musics and musicians, forming a style that fluidly melds some of the top dawgz (McLaughlin, Metheny, Holdsworth, Tolonen, etc.) into a mode updating ancient Indonesian styles into a World fusion template, doing so in both electric and acoustic environments. His synthesis reveals some surprising affinities, as in the strong Celtic tones and patterns of Masa Kecil, which transmorphs into a combination of searing electric runs, gamelon, and a children's vocal chorus before yanking the airs of Eire back in again. When Back Home pops up, the intimacy of the Irish modes to the Indonesian are even more apparent, flowing seamlessly into one another.

There are also quasi-orchestral infusions such as were discovered in the Gayle Moran period of Mahavishnu Orchestra, and then pianist Indra Lesmana, who mixed the CD and who released an obscure LP in the States decades ago, in Malacca Bay brings a VERY jazzy modernist set of keyboard chops into the picture for a long extremely satisfying solo blending Joe Sample with Chick Corea. Shadu Rasiji takes over on bass, grabbing his time in the sun (which coulda been a lot longer!, this guy's good) before Budjana and Lesmana duet back onto the canvas. The balladic Caka 1922 slows things down with finger-picked guitar and synth washes, elegiac and atmospheric, a lament nonetheless imbued with light, a sad luminance but one that appears to ponder the impermanence of things as it grieves, suddenly shifting into an epiphany of melancholic grandeur.

A few U.S. notables drop in for a track or three (four, actually), Peter Erskine among them, but special note must be made of Howard Levy's dynamite harmonica performance in Rerad Rerod, kind of a John Popper meets Norton Buffalo meld where high acumen (Popper) meets exquisite beauty (Buffalo), Budjana ceding the guy tons of time for a jaw-dropping interlude. It's Levy's only sit-in, but, God, what a one-off! Actually, Dewa's generous to all concerned and doesn't need to hog up all the improv time. This comes from a confident prowess, muscular, supple as a snake one moment, languid as a monsoon afternoon the next, then reaching for the skies in blinding legato minutes later. Oft soaring above him is Saat Syah on bamboo flute, reminiscent of Shadowfax's Chuck Greenberg in terms of soaring lyricality, adding a quality stretching the song's panoramas even further.

Track List:

  • Lalu Lintas
  • Gangga
  • Masa Kecil
  • Kromatik Lagi
  • Back Home
  • Malacca Bay
  • Kunang Kunang
  • Caka 1922
  • Rerad Rerod
  • On the Way Home
  • Dancing Tears
  • Devananda
All songs written by Dewa Budjana.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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