What goes around… Indonesian guitarist’s masterful dissolution in the Western fusion idiom.
MoonJune mastermind Leonardo Pavkovic never watches Grammys but, if he hates the awards, one should be forced into into his hands for bringing local artists with a worldwide appeal onto the global level and for handing the no-more-obscure musicians an opportunity to bring the wide world into their oeuvre. On the forefront of this successful experiment, Dewa Budjana has recorded with Larry Goldings and Peter Erskine on 2013’s "Joged Kahyangan" and with Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Johnson on 2014’s "Surya Namaskar" yet “Hasta Karma” signals a change in the guitarist’s approach. Adding an old lyrical piece “Ruang Dialisis” – sparse, falling to voice-stricken pieces and gripping – to the fresh material, Budjana chooses not to stun solo-wise but to blend slightly into the backdrop provided by the vibes courtesy of Joe Locke which gives the whole picture a watercolor quality where folk motifs are part of the texture – subtle, though essential.
They’re very much pronounced in the infectious dance of “Just Kidung” with its playful tune and sly exchange of individual passages, as drummer Antonio Sanchez and contrabassist Ben Williams, two Pat Metheny’s acolytes, propel it delicately, if quite insistently, and Indra Lesmana’s improvising piano joins in. Yet on “Jayaprana” cymbals wash the picking and low-toned plucks support twangy harmonies before vibraphone sprinkles it with jazzy fizz, while “Desember” is arranged around sharp riffs and almost angry vignettes which get calmer as the piece progresses. Still, “Saniscara” submerges an arresting strain of it in the rhythmic stream until Dewa’s six-string all but disappears in the ripple before ripping back to the surface, and “Payogan Rain” drips as gently with melodica and acoustic lace as its title suggests.
Here’s Dewa Budjana in a wholly different, soft light, or rather shy shimmer, opening his wonders like a lotus. Karma’s not to burn this time.