The region of Southeast Asia is a relative new area for musicians who want to explore the rest of the world. When it comes to international recognition Moonjune Records takes up the gauntlet and is really digging into this mysterious musical area. With successful productions for Tohpati, Ligrio and simakDialog − just to name a few − the region starts to take advantage of the attention they get. Another musician that finds his roots in Indonesia is guitarist and composer Dewa Budjana. Dawai In Paradise is already his fifth solo album. Over the years he became famous throughout Indonesia and his status as a guitar maestro is well-deserved.
Dawai In Paradise is a sort of compilation of the records Budjana recorded over the last thirteen years. The oldest Kunang Kunang and Caka 1922 were recorded in 2000, while the most recent ones hail from 2011. In between he made some recordings in the USA with prominent jazz players like drummer Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Steps Ahead) and bass players Reggie Hamilton and the late Dave Carpenter. Dewa Budjana's music can be placed somewhere between smooth jazz and new age, sometimes incorporating native elements and Indian vocals, but all played with passion. By using recordings that roughly comprise a decade you'll find many different musicians on the album. Unfortunately this resulted in songs that vary so much that the musical content has a certain lack of coherency.
Most of the individual songs are nice and very pleasant to listen to. The combination of Budjana's electric guitar and the jazzy classical piano of Ade Irawan in Malacca Bay sounds perfect to me. Some other songs I find harder to keep my focus on, especially a song like Masa Kecil, which holds a theme that has been used many times over the years. For me the highlights are those pieces performed as a (power) trio, namely Kromatik Lagi, Lalu Lintas, which are pure without any fuzz, and the aforementioned Malacca Bay.
Although Dewa Budjana has a lot of followers in his home land, I think this album will be a difficult one to get the well-deserved attention overseas. As I already stated, the songs vary too much and as a result the album sounds too fragmented and incoherent. However, I'm sure that devotees of jazz rock will appreciate this relaxed style of music. The Indian vocals on some songs sound pleasantly shifting towards the smooth jazz of the British band Acoustic Alchemy.
Dawai In Paradise is a pleasant album for a lazy Sunday morning or to be played late in the evening, although the free style during Gangga won't be appreciated by everyone I guess. As far as I'm concerned I still like Tohpati better and I'm also looking forward to the new album by simakDialog, but I truly appreciate this effort by Dewa Budjana.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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