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(99:53, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Pasar Klewer 12:13 2. Spirit of Peace 8:55 3. Tjampuhan 12:57 4. Forest 8:00 5. London in June 4:58 6. Lir Ilir 11:38 7. Bubuyu Bulan 8:31 8. Frog Dance 10:54 9. Life Itself 6:59 10. Purnama 6:49 11. Forest (Instrumental) 7:59 LINEUP: Dwiki Dharmawan - piano Yaron Stavi - bass Asaf Sirkis - drums, percussion Aris Daryono - vocals, percussion, violin With: Mark Wingfield - guitars Nicolas Meier - guitars Gilad Atzmon - clarinet, saxophone Boris Savoldelli - vocals Peni Candra Rini - vocals Gamelan Jess Jegog orchestra
Prolusion. Indonesian composer and musician Dwiki Dharmawan has a career spanning multiple decades in his native country, as a member of the band Krakatau, as a central part in the World Peace Orchestra as well as a solo recording and performing artist. "Pasar Klewer" is the second of his solo productions to be widely available in the western hemispheres, and was released through US label Moonjune Records in 2016.
Analysis. There are many aspects about this production where I cannot really come with too much relevant information. All the details are there to hear as well as see of course, but this is one of those productions where I as a reviewer will openly admit being in unknown territory. I've been told that the book of jazz, sub-directions in the genre and unwritten rules one needs to know about is just about the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Said in jest obviously, but this is a genre where both readers and musicians often take for granted that you do possess a bit more knowledge than in many other genres of music. So in this case, even more than in others, I'm very much a mere listener. What I do hear is music that I'd first and foremost describe as typical jazz, or typical modern jazz perhaps. There are elements from both rock and folk music included, mainly in a minor way, which presumably makes this an example of jazz fusion. While a case may be made for jazzrock as well, my impression is that the rock instrumentation mainly are used to provide textures that could otherwise have been provided by other instruments, keyboards first and foremost, and as such the actual content of rock music in this mix is, to my ears at least, minimal. Dharmawan plays the piano exclusively on this album, and I'd say that the piano is by and large the dominant instrument throughout. Elegant and wandering piano motifs lead the way more often than not, be it in a more careful, sedate or even sleepy manner or in a more striking, expressive and adventurous one. Careful backing by a well controlled drummer and percussionist, and of course both are given moments for more expressive displays and sections where their instruments are handed the lead role too. But their primary role are to be a more subservient backdrop. The electric guitars, when present, have a more dominant role, often as providers of floating textures, while the saxophone and clarinet when employed tend to move between elegant solo runs and expressive, more flamboyant modes of delivery. There are also section the features what I suspect are acoustic guitars, adding a gentler, warm atmosphere to the passages where it is used. These instruments are used in compositions that, by and large, are fine, elegant flowing affairs. At times honing in on a more careful, sedate mode of delivery throughout, on other occasions seguing back and forth between more careful passages and edgier, more vibrant displays. Sections featuring more expressive displays are present too, and in most cases coming just shy of shifting over to more abrasive, free form territories. There are a couple of exceptions, but more commonly the material will stretch towards the border of becoming that without crossing over. As is the case with the greater majority of albums released by Moonjune Records, the musicians involved are impeccable, and the mix and production is of the quality one would expect in this day and age. Whether one will enjoy this album or not is, as is often the case, a matter of personal taste in music.
Conclusion. Those fond of quality musicians exploring the landscapes of jazz set within the context of piano driven and to some extent piano dominated electric jazz of the fusion variety should have a field day with this double album by Dwiki Dharmawan. Challenging and adventurous music, but also material that by and large shies away from becoming overly so, and also retains a good feel for flow, melody and harmony. If jazz fusion is your thing, and the elements described sounds appealing, chances are good that you'll find this album to be a rewarding one.
Progmessor: March 29th, 2018
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