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Anane - The Evolution Ethnic: Slebar Slebor CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 4 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Outside of Japan, progressively infused rock isn't very common and especially so in the diversely populated country of Indonesia, but over the decades there have been a few brave bands looking westward for inspiration and ofttimes cranking out some delectable artistic expression on par with their occidental counterparts. While bands like Shark Move and Giant Step may have put Indonesia on the map as far as prog rock goes, it's some of the newer bands that have cranked out some of the more interesting offerings from this island nation of great diversity. One of my new favorites emerged from the Javan city of Yogyakarta and released one one album titled THE EVOLUTION ETHNIC: SLEBAR SLEBOR. The band is ANANE which means "simple" in the Bahasa Indonesian language but this band is anything but.

While the fusion of folk music with prog rock is nothing new, after all English folk sounds are Jethro Tull's and countless other bands' trademarks as well is the case with many other European prog bands, Indonesian folk music mixed with progressive rock isn't something i've encountered overly much. Bands like Guruh Gipsy dabbled in such possibilities in the 70s but ANANE took it all to more energetic levels and in a ways reminds me of what the Secret Chiefs 3 did with Middle Eastern music. ANANE specifically started with the folk music from the Gayo tribe in Aceh and the Busi tribe in Makassar of Sumatra and then adapted the traditional sounds to modern rock trends. The results of this amount to a very interesting blend of ethnically infused avant-prog meets jazz- fusion along with other influences such as Balkan gypsy folk for example.

The album specifically focuses on children's songs as a theme and hosts a thundering display of pompous percussive drive, local ethnic sounds as well as charming homegrown female vocal melodies. However the first few songs sound more like something the Italian band Area cranked out on their most melodic albums like "Arbeit Macht Frei" and "Crac." The Balkan gypsy folk melodies are distinct and when combined with the Indonesian flavors, avant-prog time signature deviations and jazzy accoutrements, makes a spectacular rich and dynamic listening experience. The percussive drive is tantamount to a herd of thundering elephants stampeding through the forest but the melodies and harmonies are borrowed from some of prog's greatest hits including not only Area but King Crimson-esque jazz-rock bombast as well as touches of the Canterbury Scene as well as other surprises.

All of the six tracks begin with a melody borrowed from a popular kid's song from various Indonesian precincts but chiefly from the Aceh region of Sumatra. After the melodic touches are established, ANANE takes extreme liberties in adding all kinds of wild ideas to their mix including not only heavy progressive rock but colorful flamenco guitar segments, electronic weirdness as well as local acoustic instrument touches. The musicians that includes six full time members and two guests are extremely talented and dish out an extremely tight instrumental interplay as they seamlessly drift from heavy prog rock to flamenco to traditional German waltzes and back. While at times the album seems like it's completely immersed in the European traditions, at others it can sound more like a completely traditional folk band that you would hear on the Nonesuch Explorer series with no foreign sounds at all.

Considering these tracks are derived from simple children's songs, they are teased out into a staggering array of variations that add not only progressive rock touches such as complex time signature changes and alternating dynamics but also adds a healthy touch of good old fashioned art rock mixed with the indigenous Indonesian folk elements which keep the whole thing extremely exotic and melodically addictive even when the band bursts into the more avant-prog angularities. The album drifts all over the place and many may find this one a tad difficult to latch onto but personally this is the stuff arty prog dreams are made of as it wends and winds all over the place but yet never deviates from the ethnic grounding stability of the rhythmic drive. Not quite a masterpiece but an excellent album that is unlike any other. For those who love a healthy does of ethnic - prog fusion, you really must check this one out. Not one track on THE EVOLUTION ETHNIC: SLEBAR SLEBOR disappoints.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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