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Dewa Budjana - Mahandini CD (album) cover


Dewa Budjana

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Review originally posted at

An album as wonderful as its lineup!

The name of Dewa Budjana has been spinning in my ears for over 4 years, since I was kindly introduced to his music by Mr. Moonjune. Since then, I've been quite fond of his music, mainly due to his guitar style, but also due to the different musical realms he shares and also due to the amazing line-ups he gathers for his albums. After two years of the amazing "Zentuary", the Indonesian maestro has returned with "Mahandini", an album that has the mandatory jazz fusion sound, with the also mandatory Balinese moments, but now with a sound more oriented to rock.

This might be because of the musicians recruited for this album. Dewa Budjana always knows how to choose great musicians and also how to adapt the music in order to take the best from them, and now, with the help of progressive rock masters Jordan Rudess and Marco Minnemann, along with Indian prodigy bass-woman Mohini Dey, Budjana has given us a great record. If that was not enough, here the acclaimed John Frusciante collaborates with the composition of two songs which are sung by him. Guitar expert and legend Mike Stern features on one of the tracks as well, while Indonesian artist Soimah Pancawati shares her voice on track three. An all-star line-up!

Frusciante might be mainly known for his work as guitar player of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he also has a solo career in which his voice plays a main role. For this album he lends his voice for two songs. The first one is "Crowded", the one that opens this album. Here we can listen to a great piece that has a deeper orientation to the rock realm with even some heavier moments provided by the voice and the instruments. The jazz fusion element is a shadow here, and it is in fact a surprise because it is not so common to see a Budjana's album opening with a track like this one, that in spite of its delicate sounds on brief passages, it might be remembered more for its explosive moments and even its nice catchy lyrics.

"Queen Kanya" continues this journey. The first two minutes have a soft jazz fusion sound but later the music becomes more aggressive, with an evident wink to progressive rock. A piano solo first and then the music explodes, Budjana makes a great and rockin' guitar that prepares us to one of the albums highlights: the konnakol section. Minnemann and Dey share an amazing passage where percussion and vocals spit countless syllables creating an addictive rhythm, reminding me a bit of some Mahavishnu Orchestra sounds.

"Hyang Giri" has the guest voice from an Indonesian singer. This song is amazing, the voice is profound and the music hypnotic. There is an evident Balinese flavor wonderfully blended with progressive rock. I think my description could be short, but the words I chose I think definitely describe this wonderful tune. "Jung Oman" might be the softest and more delicate of the tracks here. It has a very melancholic sound, it is like an invitation to feel clean and relaxed, an invitation to a introspection.

The guest musicians continue, and now it's time for Mike Stern, renowned guitarist who has played with giants such as Miles or Jaco, among others. His career has been long and prolific as solo artist or in collaborations. This time he shares his talent in "Ilw", a terrific progressive / hard rock song in which his experimental guitar appears adding a great solo. "Zone" is the second and last song with lyrics and with Frusciante as guest singer. This song might belong to any of his solo albums, though the musicians add in moments a soft jazzy spirit, this is more a rock tune for the likes of alt rock fans.

"Mahandini" has that Dewa Budjana sound, I mean, when I listen to these arpeggios I already know who the guitar player is, I think it is good to have a own sound, it is very difficult to create it nowadays. Minnemann drums all over this track are fantastic, multi-colored, sharing endless figures, great! After three minutes we found Mohini Dey playing a great bass solo that is continued by Rudess' keyboard solo. Budjana is never egoist, he always let his musicians to show to the world how great they are.

As usual, Budjana has provided a top album. I beg you to discover this man's music, you will find colorful moments that will guide you to countless sensorial experiences.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#2134146)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars We all recognise certain people within the music world who we respect and admire for one reason or another. These tend to be musicians themselves, but for more than twenty years one person I have been in awe of is Leonardo Pavkovic, who when he isn't touring with one of his bands is also discovering wonderful musicians and making them available to the wider world. Such is the case with Dewa Budjana, a guitarist who has sold millions of albums in Indonesia but wasn't recognised outside his home country until 'Dawal In Paradise' was released on Moonjune, since when many of us always look forward to the next album with real interest. One of the reasons for that is Dewa is always looking to expand, branch and change. It is rare that he will use the same group of musicians from one album to the next, and records very quickly indeed, capturing energy and then moving on. This album was recorded in one day in January 2018, postproduction and overdubs took place, and then it was mixed and mastered in the March.

This album sees Dewa working with Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment), drummer Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn, The Mute Gods, Eddie Jobson UK) and bassist Mohini Dey (Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan). There are also guest appearances by John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers), fusion guitar veteran Mike Stern (Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius) and by the haunting voice of Indonesian singer Soimah Pancawati.

I don't think I have previously come across 22-year-old Dey prior to this, and if she is playing like this at her age, I can't even imagine what she will be doing in the next 10 or 20 years. There are times when I found I was concentrating more on what she was doing than Budjana, such is her impact on this album. There is a section at the end of "Queen Kanya" where the interplay between her and Minnemann is incredible: I would happily keep playing that on repeat as it blows me away each and every time.

Rudess is one of the most important keyboard players in the scene, but due to the way the music has been arranged he is often more in the background but playing as perfectly as ever. This album starts with "Crowded", a song not written by Budjana, a first for one of his solo works, but instead it is by John Frusciante who also provides vocals (as well as on closing song "Zone"). Rudess gently provides the introduction which allows Budjana to pick up the theme before Frusciante comes in. Here we get the flashes of genius which only come when musicians are masters of their craft, and also here coming from different musical areas and joining together to create something special. In many ways this is one of the most commercial songs ever released by Budjana, and in itself it may well create interest from those who have yet to come across him as the rock elements blast, but the gentle sections trickle along like a babbling brook.

Later in the album we are treated to the vocals of Indonesian tradition singer Soimah Pancawati, and this mix of styles works incredibly well, as America meets Asia in a way which only makes sense due to the way the music has been arranged. Each of Budjana's albums is a delight from start to end, and this is no different. Regarding the title he says "The title Mahandini comes from two words, Maha & Nandini: Maha means means big, great and Nandini means 'the vehicle that carries the God Shiva' in indian. Using this word as the name for this great line-up resulted in a good sign, it sounded like I had a Great Vehicle for my music. I was lucky!" So are we.

Report this review (#2219379)
Posted Saturday, June 8, 2019 | Review Permalink

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