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GURUH GIPSY

Guruh Gipsy

Eclectic Prog


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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!"

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#104424)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yeah, like Gatot said, this is absolutely a masterpiece album.

The album starts with a stunning keyboard riffs that followed by great guitar fills. I was amazed when heard this album in first time.

The album seems like divided into 2 parts. The first side was filled with the mix between Western and Balinese music, then the second one's more ethnic-ish. The greatest effort was "Indonesia Mahardhikka", the 15 minute track. Then, the second track's more slower. The third track rocks. Then, the second side occupied the Balinese arrangements. All in all, this was a good album. Unfortunately, we don't have the better remastered version of the album, only converted wave from cassettes.

This is a difficult album to reach, very limited, even in the local area. But, you must try this album out (if you found it). 4 stars...

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Send comments to progeater (BETA) | Report this review (#153232)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Surely this is a masterpiece of Progressive Rock. Guruh Gipsy came from Indonesia and this albulm was released only on cassettes and i strongly wish there will be cd issues of it. Between the members of this band are some of the most important musician of the indonesian scene. Keenan Nasution on drum, that later will release Palestina with the Gank Pegangsaan, a great pop prog album, Chrisye is other very famous musician in indonesia, author of many great pop album with a prog touch and then also the son of the king of indonesia Guruh Soekarnoputra that play all the balenese instruments. The album is a mix of prog, jazz and indonesian folk music, and the greatness of this album is the ability to mix defferent element in a unique cocktail. Maybe 5 star are too much, it would 4,5, but they deserve a prize couse i think is much more easy to play prog in europe than in indonesia

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Send comments to bungle77 (BETA) | Report this review (#251732)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I'm happy to see that I'm the first non-indonesian reviewer of this album. Unfortunately for me, I have seen that Gatot has written an excellent and comprehensive review of it and I don't have much to add, so I'll go with my personal impressions only.

Initially it appears to be very inspired by ELP, but the 15 minutes opening track has many different sections and the connection with ELP disappears just after few passages. What I like of this album is the kind of contamination with Balinese music. The two things (Prog and ethnic) fit well together. If music is a way to let your mind trip, this mixture of symphonic prog and Gamelan is an excellent carrier.

I visited Jakarta and Bali more than 20 years ago and Indonesia is still in my heart. This is probably a reason why I like this album.

I'm not sure that it's a full 4 stars but it's surely above 3.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#291397)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Vow !!!!!!

The history of this album and the Guruh Gipsy project is one of the most interesting stories in ProgArchives. The brainchild behind this album is the fifth child of Sukarno, the first president and creator of the state now called Indonesia. It is the fifth most populated state in the world, no less. His name has different spellings but seek for him on the English version of Wikipedia under the name Guruh Sukarnoputra.

This album too is very interesting. My fellow reviewer Gatot has already written an excellent review of this album so I refer those who are interested in the minute details of this album to his review. I will here in not so many words give my own impressions of this album.

The album starts out as a hommage to ELP and the many Western classical composers. Then the album heads east after 1/4 of the album completed. Far east to be precise. The remaining 3/4 of the album first starts out as jazz before it ends up as far east folk music. That over the same ELP like theme as it started with.

To say that this album is interesting is an understatement. The sound quality is a bit iffy. But the quality of the music still shines through. I am not familiar to the sounds of far east folk music. But the ELP reference and the English hymn tradition which runs throughout this album is a big help. And this album is actually a nice crossover between English hymns sung in cathedrals/churches and the folk music from the east. The music has many layers and many facets.

In short, this is a great album which is not likely to be forgotten by those who has encountered it. It one of the true gems of our archives and it is recommended.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#451239)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Excellent Indonesian Ethnic Music with a bit of ELP

In the last couple of years, been discovering many Indonesian bands, starting with the addictive ABBHAMA that sounded like YES made in Bollywood (with a better vocalist), then came TOHPATI ETHNOMISSION and SIMAK SIALOG with their virtuoso performance of Jazz Rock Fusion and now I find this lost gem from the late 70's called GURUH GIPSY that blends ELP influence (mostly in the first song) with Jazz plus some ethnic elements that make the music delightful. Sadly this guys only released the self titled album and then vanished....What a waste of talent.

Most new musicians are very careful and start their debuts with a nice short theme that can please the majority of listeners, this guys don't take any precaution and open "Guruh Gipsy" with Indonesia Maharddika, a 15:45 minutes epic that combines all the elements described about, even when reminds me of "Karn Evil 9", sounds pretty unique due to the peculiar voice of Keenan Nasution, the excellent choirs by "The Hatauruk Sisters" but overall the breathtaking guitar solos by Odink Nasution.

But that's not all, normally the bands have one pianist that plays all the key instruments, but in this case, the piano and organ are played by Roni Harahap (clearly an Emerson fan) while the minimoog is in charge of Abadi Soesman, who adds a different flavor to the music. Fantastic opener that kept me in the edge of the seat from the first to the last note.

The second track Chopin Larung is an interpretation of how Chopin's music would sound if he ever visited Bali and the guys succeeded in creating the atmosphere, because the classical piano combined with nostalgic Balinese music, almost made me break in tears, the only word I can use is wonderful.

Barong Gundah is the first and only instrumental of the album, with the peculiarity of being played using a pentatonic scale, creating some sort of Indonesian Jazz based mainly in percussion (gamelan), guitar and bass. Normally i'm not too fond on any form of free Jazz, but this is very interesting.

Janger 1897 Saka is easily recognized by it's intro that created the effect of a market with people advertising their products, but unexpectedly turns into a beautiful melodic tune with Chrisye's soft voice supported by female vocals and orchestra, simply breathtaking.

The last two tracks Geger Gelgel and Smaradhana are more and more oriented towards traditional Indonesian music, that I don't feel capable to describe as carefully and with the knowledge that "Gatot" did on a preview review, I can only add that both are incredibly beautiful and elaborate.

I must say that in my opinion GURUH GIPSY is more a Folk band rather than a Symphonic one, because apart from the clear ELP references in Indonesia Maharddika, the rest of the record is a delicate blend of Indonesian music and western influences that deserves no less than 4 solid stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#528903)
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Indonesian ethnic music is very far from mainland Europe and I won't pretend that I know anything about it. What I know is whether or not I can enjoy this album. Well, when it's fusion between Prog and Bali, it's OK (Terrific first part), but the bad thing, the disaster happens when it's mostly ethnic sounds (the terrible second half) + bonus song that tells me absolutely nothing. If I were to rate solely first track on this album, I would rate it very highly, because it's Progman's dream come through. This song has everything - many different elements, Harmonium styled vocals, improvisations, melodic lines, quite/loud parts switched in a clever way. But because of the rest, that probably have some appeal to different people, but not to me, I have to rate

3(+), but it's a very strong three stars.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#574521)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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