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I Know You Well Miss Clara - Chapter One CD (album) cover


I Know You Well Miss Clara

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Christmas started earlier this year

Two days ago, a neighbor called to inform me had received a package of CD's for me, so I went to his house and found that my good friend Leonardo "Moonjune" Pavcovic had sent me several albums, so, as soon as I got back home, placed a green CD thinking it was by SIMAK DIALOG (My favorite jazz band from Indonesia), but then I noticed it was by another band from the same country called I KNOW YOU WELL MISS CLARA, so with little expectation listened it?But the surprise was huge, this band's debut called Chapter One is simply delightful, and as good as any SIMAK DIALOG release.

Let's start saying that Chapter One is much more eclectic than the normal Fusion band, combining elements of Rock, Psychedelia, Avant Garde and of course Jazz. The massive use of keyboards (Adi Wijaya) and aggressive guitar solos (Reza Ryan) almost in a contrapuntist style make of each song a battle with strong references to MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, keeping the listener at the edge of the seat.

Of course no band can sound well without a solid rhythm section and Alfia Akbar (Drums) with the accurate interplay of Enriko Cultom (Bass) make an outstanding work. Unlike most Indonesian bands, the guys of I KNOW YOU WELL MISS CLARA don't use native Kendang Percussion, which allows them to be one of the few ensembles from this part of the world, who abandon the characteristic folk sound in favourr of an exploration of different Rock and Jazz sub-genres, with special emphasis in mysterious and extensive Avant Garde passages.

I won't even try to make a song by song review, because each track is a different universe and would take me at least 10 pages to make justice to what this guys are doing, but of course will mention my favorite pieces, starting with the trippy Open The Door, See The Ground in which Adi does an amazing piano work.

Another track that impressed me is the almost haunting Pop Sick Love Carousel with abundant jamming and a clear Canterbury Scene aroma..

Last but not least, I must mention the impressive guitar based A Dancing Girl From Planet Marsavishnu Named After The Love which is obviously a homage to John Mc´Laughlin's band, specially Inner Mountain Flame.

Even though this pieces are the first ones that come to my mind, would be dishonest not to say that all the material they present us is first class with no weak moments, so I really recommend Chapter One to fans of good music.

Oops, almost forgot the rating?..4 solid stars that could easily be 5, but as most people here know, I don't rate debuts with the maximum number of stars, because I always expect more from the next album, and this guys have the skills to offer us a complete masterpiece.

Report this review (#1062956)
Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Never let it be said that I don't do my research, so here are a few facts regarding IKYWMC's home country, Indonesia. While many people, especially those from the Northern Hemisphere, may be working under the assumption that it is just a small group of islands somewhere north of Australia, it is, in terms of population, the fourth largest country on earth (behind China, India, and the US) with a current estimated population of 250 million, which is somewhat different to the UK's 65 million and NZ's 4.5!! It is an archipelago that comprises over 17,000 islands, which go to form a land mass equating to 1,919,440 square kilometres (735,355 square miles) which means that it is the 19th largest country in terms of land. As well as being one of the largest countries in the world they are also mad on music, which is why Leo spends so much time down there unearthing real gems, and yet again he has made a rock solid find with the debut from this instrumental quartet.

These guys have been influenced by progressive rock, psychedelic rock, improvisational jazz and other forms and have brought it all together in an incredible fusion album showing elements of Jimi Hendrix, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis and Hatfield & The North among others (just to name a few). Incredibly, this album was recorded in just 18 hours, with most of the material being either first or second takes. Although there are large elements of 'free jazz' in what they are doing, there is also a great deal of structure and the melodies and intricacies are sublime. They are also very conscious of the arrangements and need for space, and it is not unusual for there are to be long passages where only one or two are actually playing and the others let them get on with it. It is going to be very easy for the rhythm section of bassist Enriko Gultom and drummer Alfiah Akbar to be overlooked, as although they display incredible skills and intuitive playing they are there for the supporting roles behind the two writers and soloists, guitarist Reza Ryan and keyboard player Adi Wijiya. They combine, separate, let each other take the full spotlight, with a delicacy of touchy and fluidity of playing that is quite inspired. Adi's playing, especially when he is using piano, is full of emotion and lightness of touch while Reza is for me channelling the skills and dexterity of a young John McLaughlin. Although the closing song "A Dancing Girl From Planet Marsavishnu Named After The Love" may not have the spelling quite right, I am sure that it is a tribute to the man himself, and is one of two where they feature some wonderful guest sax from Nicholas Combe who sounds right at home.

The album is a delight from start to finish, and I have to concur with the statement from Sid Smith that is included in the digipak "The time you spend getting to know this music will be time well spent indeed". If this is their debut, what on earth are they going to come up with next? Fusion really doesn't get any better than this.

Report this review (#1067018)
Posted Saturday, October 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Indonesian quartet I KNOW YOU WELL MISS CLARA was formed back in 2009, originally a rehearsal band only, but when a gig proposal came their way they decided to take this project a step further. They were later signed to the US label Moonjune Records, which released their debut album "Chapter One" in the late summer of 2013.

As far as debut albums go, I Know You Well Miss Clara have made themselves a fine one with "Chapter One". A creation that first and foremost merits a description as an elegant and sophisticated venture, with room for some details of a more intense nature but with a main focus on smooth arrangements, subtle details and careful reverbs. Those who have a soft spot for instrumental jazz rock described in such a manner should find plenty to love on this disc.

Report this review (#1132310)
Posted Sunday, February 16, 2014 | Review Permalink

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