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Guruh Gipsy - Guruh Gipsy CD (album) cover

GURUH GIPSY

Guruh Gipsy

 

Eclectic Prog

4.09 | 26 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Perfect marriage of Prog and Bali Music!

This is a masterpiece prog rock album of all times, coming from Indonesia. Please don't get me wrong with this statement as I'm an Indonesian by nationality, rather actually I consider myself that my nationality is Progressive Rock music. So, whenever I say that this is a masterpiece, I mean that this is an absolutely masterpiece! No compromise with this. Well, you might check with my other reviews at this site just to see my integrity with respect to reviewing. I understand that there is virtually no true value of nearly everything. But . there are boundaries that limit you for not forcing too much your ego. So is the case with me. If you consider that this is not a masterpiece, it's your call really. I have a strong rationale why I consider it as masterpiece for this collaborative project between Indonesia's fifth son (Guruh) of first President, Soekarno and Gipsy band. You might want to see the background of this album at band information at this site.

This album was launched in cassette format when I was at Senior High School and it was priced very expensive, i.e Rp. 1,750,- while normal cassette price was Rp. 500. It was retailed three times than normal price! I thought twice before I purchased it in 1977 because as a student, of course I did not have enough money to purchase. The price was justified with the inclusion of brownish booklet detailing the project information: the background of the project, list of players (a lot musicians were involved in this collaborative project). Finally, I asked my mom to purchase this cassette because I could not stand not to have this luxury edition of cassette. Then I got it and WOW! I was astonished with the music as I could not believe at all that Indonesians (oh yes . all of them were Indonesians) could have ever made this great progressive rock music. I was lucky that by the time I listened to Guruh Gipsy I was already familiar with symphonic prog music with bands like ELP, Genesis, Yes, even Gentle Giant and Rick Wakeman. So I got no trouble listening to it.

And now, 29 Years Later . this is my view:

Indonesia Maharddika (15:43)

This opening track really blew me away the first time I spun the cassette. It was complex for me at first but with multiple spins I finally got into music subtleties of this wonderfully composed music. The intro part reminds me to the music of ELP / The Nice with some influences of Yes. There is no similarity in chords and/or melody with those supergroups but the music is in similar vein. But hold on, there is a distinctive difference with other western bands whereby this track contains moog synthesizer melody which is truly based on Indonesia traditional music of Bali. It's very rich in texture and I bet you have never heard this kind of melody - unless you have ever visited Bali - the beautiful island in Indonesia archipelago.

After a long stunning symphonic progressive rock music (approximately 3 minutes) and powerful vocal by Keenan Nasution with ethnics music, in then enters into a stunning and long sustain keyboard / synthesizer sounds in the vein of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (of Pink Floyd) followed with powerful verses sung by Chrisye: "Aku dengar deru jiwa .." with really beautiful Balinese style pentatonic music with gamelan and synthesizer. Oh what a great part here! Chrisye bass lines are also excellent. The music flows into moog solo backed-up with traditional gamelan Bali music. Oh man .. I'm totally nggeblak! (my mind was totally paralyzed for a while, enjoying the beauty of notes played by this segment).

The next segments comprise a great combination of guitar solo, female choirs, keyboards and moog synthesizer solo. The ending part of this track is really killing and there is virtually nothing traditional music but the melody still maintains the Bali nuance. It's truly a memorable track that requires numerous spinning.

Chopin Larung (7:19)

As the name implies, this second track is the band's interpretation of Chopin and the condition that surrounds Bali Island as a continuous effort to preserve Bali traditions and culture. "Yen Chopin maring ing Bali .." (If Chopin comes to Bali ..) is a powerful and memorable verse that Chrisye sings beautifully in this track. This track has strong and memorable melody that I'm sure that human beings might experience mbrebes mili (having watery eyes) due to the melody subtleties produced by this track. This track includes great combination of piano, gamelan Bali and orchestra. The piano solo is very classical in nature. Oh man, you have to experience yourself with this track and am sure that you will be touched enjoying the melody and the composition!

Barong Gundah (6:57) (instrumental)

This track starts with a gamelan solo backed with an ambient nuance. You might hear something strange here because it's based on pentatonic notes unlike standard western instruments which are based on diatonic notes. After quite a while single gamelan solo it flows with gong sounds, continued with drum sounds and bass guitar work. This is really wonderful. It's then followed with guitar solo intertwined with moog solo and gamelan solo. Oh my God . this is amazing! It seems like I'm in different worlds but listening each world in one music. The gamelan solo is really nice - it sounds like jazz music when keyboard enters the scene.

Janger 1897 Saka (8:53)

This is where The Balinese Orchestra comes into play. This track combines Chrisye and Keenan Nasution vocal lines, female choirs and traditional choir with orchestral arrangement. The melody of the song is touchy, blended with excellent composition on orchestra part of this tune. There are many types of instruments used at this track which is based on traditional melody. I Gusti Kompyang Raka plays important role here. The sounds of gamelan and gong have enriched the texture of this music. They make the music quite dense with multi instruments. It sounds very colossal.

Geger Gelgel (12:04)

This track is a perfect example on how hard rock music and traditional instruments were blended nicely. The result is a truly progressive rock music. I think Keenan does vocal job here. It starts with the sounds of kendang (traditional percussion) followed with the dynamics of gamelan Bali sounds. It sounds so rocking to my ears especially when piano enters the music followed with keyboards, bass guitar and drums that make the music is rich in texture. The vocal enters right after long sustain keyboard / synthesizer sounds :"Dulu di Gelgel pernah geger .." is a powerful opening verse sung by Keenan. There are many symphonic part during this track, combined perfectly with gamelan and vocal line. Traditional choirs still exist to strengthen the music. Piano interjects in between breaks. The music riffs are unique as they combine western and traditional music. It's the track that you should not miss at all. Enjoy the interlude part which provides gamelan solo (instead of guitar / keyboard) which makes this track stands out differently with any prog music available on planet earth!

Smaradhana (2:26)

It's basically a love song performed by Chrisye (vocal) backed with Bali traditional orchestra which includes also a series of gamelan and rindik. This song was later popular in Indonesia as Chrisye launched it in pop music under his solo album. It's powerful in melody, I would say.

Sekar Ginotan (6:38) - Bonus

This bonus track would bring your exploration of pure Bali traditional music. It shows its dynamic in energy and drive, even before it's combined with modern and western music instruments like drums, guitar, synthesizers. So, you can hear that original traditional music has in itself energy, enthusiasm and drive which match perfectly with rock music.

Conclusion

Well, first off, don't consider me as Indonesian! I'm a citizen of Progressive Rock Music Community in the World. My nationality is Progressive Music. My major is Symphonic Progressive Rock. If you can imagine me this way, believe me . this is a masterpiece of progressive music! I dare to say that this album is at par excellent with Genesis "Selling England By The Pound" or Yes "Close To The Edge" or Pink Floyd "Dark Side of The Moon" or name other masterpiece prog albums! This album by Guruh Gipsy must be counted in. Unfortunately there has been no significant effort to preserve this record as it was only recorded in the form of cassette tape. My version is a CDR drirectly mastered from the original cassette tape. One should remaster this record and distribute globally. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

"If you think Indonesia is a country of terrorist, it's a total fallacy!"

Gatot | 5/5 |

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