Dewa Budjana is one of many non-Western music-meisters Leonardo Pavkovic, hetman of MoonJune Records, has worked assiduously to bring to Western ears, succeeding rather spectacularly on many fronts…even if not especially profitably, due to the sophistications of the results and the market being the beast it regrettably is (you know how it goes: present the mainstream with great books, and it eats the dustjackets). Separating Budjana from the insanely successful, multi-million selling, Indonesian pop-rock band Gigi long enough to let him flex his muscles to much greater degree than was possible in the more mannered best-selling idiom, two previous CDs emerged to marked critical acclaim (you can read the FAME critiques here and here). This one, Surya Namaskar is a bit different, evolving away from densely interlocking composition work toward a clear-cut set of expressions more illuminatedly limned.
The first track, Fifty, shows this well. Starting out in trademark fusion moderne, it soon has Budjana changing up voicings and inflections to surrealistically flow in several directions at once, Vinnie Colaiuta going nuts on drums as bassist Jimmy Johnson keeps his head and nails down the meter and parameters. A bit of Mahavishnu here, Fripp there, Ritenour popping up, a number of trademark Landau muscularities, and then Gong/Soft Machine airs and glissandi. Gary Husband cuts in with prime early period Jan Hammer riffs on keyboards, raising the atmosphere to the clouds before everything gets back to bouncy post-Buggles/Group 87 merry-go-rounding.
I mentioned Landau, and he appears in the title cut in an uncharacteristically restrained set of solos (if'n ya dig Mikey's frequently brawny sytle, then check out either his Live or a recent disc by another guy, Noel Johnston, a player with Landau-styled grit: Salted Coffee [here]). Other than that, though, every gee-tar line is Budjana's, and you often have to pay close attention because he invokes mutations of other instruments well, especially when overlaying himself, creating dazzle and splendor more than once. Perhaps most interestingly, though, this release helps usher back in a very slowly growing renaissance in what was occurring in the 70s and 80s with Harvey Mandel, Janne Schaeffer, Blonker (Dieter Gelke), etc., and then in the 90s with the Guitar Recordings label and other enterprises, music made for guitar enthusiasts by top shelf players working to showcase breadth and songwriting skills, not just bravura and flash. It also carries extensive liner notes by John Kellman, a rarity in any era but much welcome when done well, which is the case here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles