A blinding set of solar intensity from Indonesian guitar-slinger on the ever-expanding orbit.
You can’t blame Dewa Budjana for churning out record after record lately, this one being his third in a year span: having burst onto international scene, where his homeland legend status doesn’t matter much, the 50-year-old makes the most of the sympathetic MoonJune contract, which opened many a door for the guitarist who’s not been slow in revealing the global scale of his talent. Yet it’s been a gradual rise via "Dawai In Paradise", recorded with Indonesian players, and "Joged Kahyangan" where Budjana danced with an array of fusion masters. But if those albums had a sweet sonic fog about them, “Surya Namaskar” is a sunny as it gets, as melodic immediacy yields to the immediacy of playing here, thanks to a trio format that sees Dewa join forces again with Jimmy Johnson and also, through the bassist, with Vinnie Colaiuta.
Not for nothing “Fifty” ends with one of them admitting it’s crazy: the result is a much more raw and rocking set of pieces, full of joie de vivre. It bubbles at the start of the aforementioned opener which unfolds into anxious swing whence a tune crawls out to spread its wings and fly towards the cymbals-lined riffs that are smoothed by Gary Husband’s synthesizers. But this time Budjana lets it shred for the sake of mood rather than outright beauty, although the liquidly hot title track, featuring Michael Landau as an electric foil to Dewa’s acoustic lace, and the sparse, somewhat spaced-out, if nicely paced, “Capistrano Road” – an impression of meeting Alan Holdsworth – are little short of breathtaking. And there’s no escaping from the towering harmonies of “Duaji & Guruji” whose stack, exquisitely shot at the bottom end by a five-string, blends Hinduism into prog in the most celebratory way while, even closer to home, “Kalingga” throws its mesmerizing metal frame on a Java soil with ethnic harp and violin, Mang Ayi’s chant adding fervency to the fire.
“Dalem Waturenggong” is the most cosmic offering on the album, its groove both delicately jittery and sharp as the instrumentalists pass it around while, elsewhere, “Lamboya” taps into a classic jazz rock vein. The similar twang of “Campuhan Hill” is more translucent, though, and reminiscent of themes that cropped up on this album’s predecessors, which renders it all the chapters of a single, inspiringly varied book that is still being written.