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ABBHAMA

Symphonic Prog • Indonesia


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Abbhama biography
It's hard for a band outside Europe or USA to reach the rest of the world and sadly some good material is lost due to the limitations of Asian or African countries, this is the case of ABBHAMA, an Indonesian band who released a cassette in 1978 called "Alam Raya".

The information about them is pretty hard to find being that they were not popular even in Indonesia because as in many countries of Asia, the charts are dominated by native Folk bands and Pop groups mainly from United States and there's a very small fan base for Progressive Rock bands.

ABBHAMA was born in 1977 and was the brainchild of the talented keyboardist Iwan Madjid, who was clearly influenced by Yes, Genesis, ELP and all the Symphonic icons but with also a strong French and Italian influence, the special touch are the lyrics sung in their native language and the clear ethnic influences.

The addition of Oboe by Hendro (That's how the musician is credited) gave them a very special and unique taste. Due to the strong and characteristic Indonesian sound, ABBHAMA could have a place in Folk Prog, but the essence of their music is clearly Symphonic.

Sadly their story ends with the release of Alam Raya, proving once more that you don't only need to be skilled but also require to have the luck of being born in a country with a strong musical industry.

After ABBHAMA disbanded Iwan Madjid and the bassist Darwin formed a more mainstream oriented band named WOW that apparently had more luck in the Indonesian charts releasing three albums.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú




Why this band must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
This band deserves to be added because it's a unique example of Symphonic Prog made in Indonesia and unique bands should be preserved.

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ABBHAMA discography


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3.61 | 16 ratings
Alam Raya
1978

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ABBHAMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Now this is something that one wouldn't expect! In the course of the years I listened many obscure albums from bands from faraway islands (at least faraway from you know where) and usually, despite the curiosity fact, they are just average albums that didn't do much.

Abbhama was an Indonesian band from Jakarta that recorded one album 35 years ago called Alam Raya (1978).

The first thing that stroke me most is that as soon as the album started it remainded me immediately of the Brazilian band 14 Bis, but their self-titled debut album was only released one year later.

The music in Alam Raya (1978) is Progressive Pop with many great instrumental breaks and if the productions is not that great is far from being bad. In fact it's quite good and I was a bit surprised with the fact.

It's true that when Iwan Madjid starts to sing is weird. His voice is sweet and angelical (almost as a girl sometimes) the thing is the language, it takes some time to get used with it, after you get used to it, it's very nice.

What can I say, you'll probably not find a new edition of this album, but if you do, grab it. Recommended!

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Indonesia have a pretty impressive output of bands here in ProgArchives. Abbhama is one of these one-album-only bands.

Story of getting this album is complicated and involves me howling like a werewolf outside my local record store's owners house, four newly caught pikes, two kegs of fermenting rhubarb cider, two train journeys in a bermuda short and and a man in pyjamas frantic waving with a white flag. The rest of of you may have more difficulties obtaining this album though.

This album by Abbhama though is pretty standard Indonesian symphonic prog with a lot of local folk music with added symphonic prog on the top of that. Symphonic prog aka ELP in other words. There is a lot of ELP'isms here. Abbhama's version of the British national anthem is very ELP like. But where ELP is bombastic, Abbhama is much more pastoral and folksy. That and a lot more local pop music too. After all, the locals is supposed to purchase this album too.

The vocals here is an acquired taste and may be off putting for some. It suits the music though and I find them to be good. The other dominating instrument is the keyboards which is played with great gusto and skills. The flutes is also pretty dominant here and good too. I have no complaints about the instrumentations. The sound is good too.

The quality of the songs are very good to good throughout. This album is by no means a classic, but still well worth checking out. It certainly brings something different to the Symph Prog genre.

3 stars

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Oh, now we're talking about rarity. Story of getting this album is complicated and involves least one bearded, one eyed man who brew beer, rides a cart with a horse and likes rock music, which also means prog.

Quality is not clean, but what do you expect from such medium. Quality of my copy is disputable, but hell, that's how I bought and it seems good enough. Anyway, who really knows, I don't for sure in this case. Never mind it. I've heard worse music before, far worse and gave it quite fair rating, because it was something. It has something to offer. And some new, extremely polished and clean music that has nothing to offer, oh, how my heart is sad because of this. Because this record has soul & heart. I've said it once already and will repeat it now too, names of band members are strange in something. Like music.

Organs and vocals are two main elements here. I'm tempted to give better rating just because its history, the atmosphere here, knowing that it's not normal album, but rather special one, feeling that it was tough birth (and hard time getting this)

4(-), maybe more. I don't expect to lesser it, because these tunes has magic inside. They're therefore magical, enchanted and full of spells. Nope, let's stick with magic ("it's a kind of...")

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars unique little tresure

Abbhama is a forgotten and very obscure symphonic prog band coming from far est , more specific from Indonesia, a country who has some bands who did a great job in prog rock realm like Guruh Gypsy or Shark Move before Abbham was born. They manage to create a single album in 1978 named Alam Raya (transleted in great nature or universe) released on cassete format. The music is very sweet , mainly because the voice of Iwan Madjid, who has a very pleasent almost melancholic voice but good for sure, the sound is aswell naive, mellow in places , close to Yes or Genesis but they heve their own twist , some oriental arrangements give them a special status. The album is sung of course in indonesian language so I din't understand a word, but the enjoyble pieces a nd smooth arrangements made me love this little record from the first piece. The best piece is Asmara, Iwan Madjid has such a perfect voice for this kinda of prog music that is hard not to enjoy such track, excellent I simply love that piece, the smoothness of his voice is beyond words, the rest are ok, not something realy special, but ok, nice interplay between musicians and some truly strong key passages interwoven wth some oboe or flute. Abbhama must be one of the best prog rock bands ever from Indonesia, maybe the second best after excellent Guruh Gypsy. Sadly Abbhama disbanded a year later after this release in 1979 and gone into oblivion. From time to time some reviews appear here and there, that means they are not forgotten. 3.5 rounded to 4, a little gem that goes rather unnoticed in prog circles, no wonder because they are pretty rare and hard to find.

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars One of my obsessions since I joined the Symphonic team and started to clean the bandlist was to listen ABBHAMA, a band from Indonesia that had only released a cassette back in the late 70's called "Alam Raya", almost unknown even in their country, for this reason I thought it would be one of the few bands in the genre I wouldn't listen, until I got a copy of the album (It was released by a Japanese label on CD).

I must say it's quite an experience, not the best music available but very addictive, somehow sounds like a soundtrack of a movie made in Bollywood (knowing of course that Indonesia is not India, but I find similarities in style) but one that mixes Neo Classical, Baroque, Prog, Pop and even some ethnic music with birds chirpings and everything.

One thing I must say Iwan Madjid does a very proficient work with the piano, Ona makes miracles with a set of keyboards that sounds very unprofessional (cheap), and Dhrama plays the flute in the purest style of Peter Gabriel, but the most impressive fact is the sweet voice of Iwan Madjid, very childish, almost like a kid before the change of voice, something like Jon Anderson meets Annie Haslam when they were 12, the arrangements are very solid (probably the best) but they lack of musical weight maybe even a bit cheesy but just can't stop listening it.

Sometimes they try to be pompous but neither the instruments, the music or the voice helps them, it's evident they are a Symphonic band in structure but their style is so unique that puzzles me, the only thing I can't stand are the terrible electronic drums..

For some people they may not sound too professional or even be too innocent, but the beauty of their music is precisely there, simple tunes very naďve but they have something special, but lets go with some tracks.

The album starts with "Kembali", really frightened me, I don't know what they tried to do at the beginning, some sort of Indonesian Disco intro very rhythmic that suddenly changes when the vocals start, not very radical to be honest but you know they have something, until then the real deal starts, the keyboard work first influenced by ELP and then a hard guitar work with a jazzy flute that suddenly turns Baroque to return to the poppy intro with some Focus reminiscences...that they are Prog there is no doubt, but this is not the strongest track of the album, despite this fact it's evident they know how to make radical changes.

"Asmara" starts promising with a solid keyboard intro until the voice joins, lets be honest, it's a bit hard to get into such a complex language, again some diluted Baroque influence and a guitar a la Ian Akkerman, provides some delightful moments, good track, maybe a bit soft for people used to the classics but they are good.

Now is the turn for "Alam Raya" which starts again with a Flemish guitar and flute which brings again the name of Focus to the memory, but the structure of the track is closer to TRIUMVIRAT, the bird chirpings are very cheesy and sound out of place unless there's a relation with the lyrics (Something I don't pretend to know), another good track except for the horrendous drums at the end.

"Karam" is more or less, in the same vein of the previous track but more melodic, to be honest by this point the voice of Madjid is starting to sound annoying, but for some reason I can't stop listening the album, the track evolves to something very light, almost like a Christmas song in a weird (for us) language.

Most of the other tracks are in the same vein, all mixing elaborate arrangements with simple tunes that go between naďve beauty and cheesiness and even an Instrumental called "Tarlenia" that is well performed but looses that charm that only Madjid vocals can ´provide, so it would be useless to describe each track except maybe "Indonesia" which is the closer they get to an epic.

"Indonesia" is the longest track of the album (7:40 minutes) and one of the most interesting, this time we listen an extremely beautiful folksy tune guided by the flute and later oboe that reminds me of the Peruvian band FRÁGIL, most precisely the song "Lizzy", but again the trademark appears, Madjid and his peculiar voice that starts a series of changes, the piano work is simply outstanding, but then they start to Rock in the purest style of the late 50's for some seconds, just to return to the same melody but this time slightly more dramatic and then close the song with the full band. Extremely good material that is closed with a synthesized violin, the best song of the album.

What else can I say about ABBHAMA and "Alam Raya", well, all the musicians are well trained and most of them obviously have classical formation, because of the sound iseems evident they don't use the most expensive instruments or the most advanced technology, but they know how to get the best from what they have.

The music is good but not outstanding and the voice well, it's definitely their trademark, some people may find it funny or amateur, but I believe we are before professional musicians that make an absolutely unique album (I never heard something remotely similar).

Now we get to the hardest part, the rating, if we were judging only quality in comparison with other Prog bands, then the three stars that the two previous reviewers gave would be perfect because that's what they deserve, but here we are before a special case and according to the guidelines we must also evaluate if the album is an excellent addition for any Prog collection, and for God's sake it is, something so unique will make any collection richer without a single doubt.

So I will take the risk and give them 4 stars for their originality and because I believe most wide minded Progheads will enjoy the album.

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by bhikkhu
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Team

3 stars Now here is a weird little nugget. Just what should you expect from late '70s Indonesian Prog? No matter what it may be, you will still be in for a surprise. ABBHAMA's only album, "Alam Raya," starts out as a kind of poppy mish-mash of the times. Just when you are thinking, "what the heck am I listening to?" something a little cool starts to happen. This is the case throughout. The singer has a very high, sweet voice. The music gets just as sugary. At the point when you've had about enough, they manage to pull you back in. Then something really strange happens. You start liking the poppy parts too. At this point, there is no hope but to completely give in.

It's odd. There are even throwbacks to '60s styles. Like I said, this is odd. However, when the proggy instrumentation kicks in, these guys are not bad at all. There is some great keyboard work, beautiful acoustic guitar, flute, some oboe, and pretty decent drumming. When they really get into it, it's full on prog.

So, it's corny (maybe even camp), on the verge of annoying, and has the chops to stand up to heavy prog scrutiny. You know what? This is fun, and very enjoyable. It's music you are not going to want to like, but you won't be able to resist its charm. It's rare, so if you can find a copy, pick it up. It's not essential, so just over three stars.

H.T. Riekels

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 Alam Raya by ABBHAMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Alam Raya
Abbhama Symphonic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This Indonesian septet offer a symphonic prog sound influenced by the usual suspects (Yes, Genesis, ELP), yet offer much personal identity. For one thing, the vocals are all in Indonesian, which adds a unique local colour and personality to the music. Players on flute and oboe add profound classical touches. Meanwhile, keyboardist "Oni" (apart from singer/pianist Iwan Majdid, nobody in the group is credited with surnames) colours the music with organ, electric piano and various synthesizer sounds.

Don't get me wrong, the album is nice, but the band tend towards the "polite" side for the most part. I keep wishing they'd cut loose, kick it up to the next level, but it never occurs. It's all very pleasant, but never much more than that. And there are a few rather cheesy moments, as on "Keraidaan Yang Ada", which opens and closes with a bombastic rendition of "God Save The Queen".

Still, a resonable album that's a lot better than some others from Indonesia (Godbless' laughably derivative HUMA DI ATAS BUKIT, for example). As usual, with Indonesian prog releases, don't expect the best sound. Not only was this likely recorded under less-than-ideal conditions, but it was only ever released (so far) on cassette. Frankly, I'm surprised it sounds as good as it does, considering all of the above.

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Thanks to Progbear for the artist addition. and to Ivan_Melgar_M for the last updates

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