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Joged Kahyangan Review
22.11.2013 9:31 PM

Just as we Norte Americanos dig exotic strains from other countries in order to keep artistic appetites whetted, alive, and well, so too do listeners and artists from elsewhere look to our half of the hemisphere for their own extra-cultural wherewithal. In this case, Dewa Budjana—one of the two gents playing guitar in the multi-platinum, million-selling, six-release-strong Indonesian pop-rock group Gigi—developed a long slow growing affinity after exposure to individuals like Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, and Chick Corea, then groups such as Yes, Gentle Giant, and others, not to mention the highly influential ECM label. All that came together on the mello-jazz fusion side of things, hence Joged Kahyangan recruits some of the top names in the mode: Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Larry Goldings, and Jimmy Johnson, as well as Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer) on one cut.

Those of us who love this kind of work along with all other styles in our variegated musical nirvana have eaten up the albums put out by Mezzoforte, Cassiopeia, Passport, Steps Ahead, Yellowjackets, and so on, developing a taste for the more refined side of things. Should anyone be curious what that means and whether or not it's a dodge for digging on guilty pleasures, then I suggest they repair to the title cut here and to Majik Blue for a little spinal electrification. The elegant atmospheres throughout the disc harbor a secret: the entire CD was done in a single day, everyone meeting for the first time (one small exception: Siegel mailed it in, from New York recording her beautiful voice encanting goopy lyrics on the only non-instrumental cut), each first run-through the only rehearsal, the second and third takes comprising the final documentation, making the entire result impressive on several fronts.

Mintzer and Budjana are particularly sympathetic, sounding as though they've been playing together for a decade, Golding adjuncting the pair for counterpoint and coloration. Erskoman sees Dewa straddling boundaries between John Abercrombie, Steve Khan, Allan Holdsworth, and Metheny while Goldings injects a Brian Augery Hammond. Erskine trots out his ususal ridiculously tasty work, and Johnson holds the fort down beneath the entire rhythm section, which shifts and transmogrifies. Guru Mandala is more lighthearted, kind of a Kitaro / Blonker / Group 87 / Takanaka thing, orientalist, the flip side of Jarre's somber (but magnificent) Souvenir of China. The closing Borra's Ballad is quiet, graceful, fragile, slowly paced, adorned with falling blossoms and the fading of the day.

There is also a very limited edition of 500 vinyl copies being pressed, so, if you want the ultimate in sonic fidelity, that's the way to go, as the recording by Rich Breen is cleaner than clean, superbly balanced, and sensitive, even when things get sparked up.

Track List:

  • Cloud Of Foggy
  • Joged Kahyangan
  • Dang Hyang Story
  • As You Leave My Nest
  • Majik Blue
  • Erskoman
  • Guru Mandala
  • Borra's Ballad

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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