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



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siLLy puPPy
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.

Report this review (#2121329)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars This group belongs to Indonesia, which is considered an islamic country. This aspect, along with the title of the album, may induce you to think that this work is based on ethnical middle east music, maybe with contribution(s) of some local cultural expressions. I can assure that this work won't appeal only for those who like middle east music. That's because there is a fine blend of prog fusion, symphonic prog, folk-prog (indonesian one, but also peruan music and what appears to me as themes from african music), and a brief passage similar to Magma. With a quick look at wikipedia, I found that Indonesia is known for there cultural and social diversity. This album can be considered as a result of this wide range of influences and histories. Therefore, because of its musical variety, I think its better to make the comments track by track. 1. Rapid notes and dynamic interplay of musicians is undertaken since the beginning, and is present, more or less, on all the album. In this track, that characteristic flute used to enchant snakes is performed in a jocular way. An arabic chant makes a very short participation. 2. Such as on the first track, here the listener has access to great musicianship on a fusion prog way, with bits of heavy prog. Beginning with a vocalization in the form of a lament, followed by of an inventive rythmic section which reminds brazilian samba. In this case it's probably the result of the influence of some african musical expression. On the track's second half they get more tribal, concomitant with a festive vibe. Sometimes a free-jazz piano, very touching, brings a more serene mood. 3. This one, called Perueren, has a much more calm introduction then its predecessors. The cello and the sax, with long notes and along with the bass and synths, make it more smooth. They soon get the company, not for long, of some arabic vocals. Its when the bamboo flute starts its appearence. Half the way of this track, there is an unquestionable hispanic flavour on instrumentation, mixtured with peruan motifs, led by violonist and singer(s). It's on the end of this music, that has more than 10min, that the bamboo flute turns very peruvian, and makes partnership with an Andes-like chant. 4. The introduction is smooth. But in few minutes the base of the composition becomes a jazz-rock looping theme, with sax, atabaques drums and guitar. Very tribal too. This repetition doesn't get boring because they improve well some stops and good solos. The title of this track is repeated many times with strong vocals along the track, accompanyied by a chorus. The only part of this track I didn't like are some parts of the vocals, thaty get a bit annoying. The second half is fantastic, when they present some crazy stuff, reminding me french Magma with a tribal mood. 5. A folk-prog march opens Dansa Gayo, with a gentle singing and flute. A sensual guitar makes short interventions. When the cello appears, its very short but really touching. The whole composition, including the chorus, is very festive. Seems like a celebration too. 6. Starts with what lookes like a childish or a lullaby song. Which turns into a funky prog. Although they manage to make this transition in a fluid and creative way, IMO this is the less inspired execution of the album. The score of the entire album is 8,5.
Report this review (#2849503)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2022 | Review Permalink

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