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HARRY ROESLI

RIO/Avant-Prog • Indonesia


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Harry Roesli biography
Harry Roesli (RIP) has been a well known artist in Indonesia who pioneered contemporary music with consistent delivery of social and humanity critics in a straight forward and transparent way. He was born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia on September 10, 1951 an passed away on Saturday, December 11, 2004 at 19:55, Rumah Sakit Harapan Kita, Jakarta, Indonesia. He is a grand son of Marah Roesli - a well known literature writer in Indonesia.

During early 70s, Harry formed a band called Gang of Harry Roesli with his friends: Albert Warnerin, Indra Rivai, and Iwan A Rachman. Five years later the group was disbanded. Harry also established Ken Arok theatrical group in 1973 where they did a series of performances including Ken Arok Opera at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), August 1975. Harry was then granted a scholarship by Cultuur, Recreatie en Maatschapelijk Werk (CRM), to study in Rotterdam Conservatorium, Netherland. To support his life while studying and expressing his musical talent, he played piano at Indonesian restaurants.

He achieved PhD in Music (1981) and he then lectured at the department of music at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI) Bandung and Universitas pasundan Bandung despite his activities to compose music for films.

Harry Roesli also actively participated in the development of street performers and the poor where he dedicated his house at Jl WR Supratman 57, Bandung as meeting point. Everyday the discussion was conducted with all street performers and the poor to get better in life through music. He established Depot Kreasi Seni Bandung (DKSB) in an attempt to educate them. From this house, he and DKSB made a series of activities and programs which focus on social critics for the betterment of the government. His song Jangan Menangis Indonesia (Don't Cry Indonesia) taken from LTO album has been a heroic song that accompanied his social protest to the government. During Indonesia Reform, his creation which was planned to consume 24 hours was almost to be banned by the government.

True Prog Rocker, and Original .

I knew Harry for the first time when a friend of mine lent me a bootleg tape of the "Ken Arok" - Rock Opera performance in Bandung, 1975. The tape was powerful for me for two reasons: first, the music was so original that I had never heard that kind of music before and second, the lyrics were so direct and so powerful with brilliant social protest. Couple of year...
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4.79 | 5 ratings
Titik Api
1976

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HARRY ROESLI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Titik Api by ROESLI, HARRY  album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.79 | 5 ratings

BUY
Titik Api
Harry Roesli RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by bungle77

5 stars Together with Guruh Gipsy the masterpiece of IndoProg, but if GG music has a western roots, Titik Api and all Roesli's music is 100% indonesian and this make this album something really unique in progressive world. Surely is not the best entrance for any western listener to indonesian progressive, surely GG would be more catchy, but if you have patience this album and maybe also Ken Arok will pay you back with the discover of a new universe in prog music. It's very difficoult to decribe thoroughly his music and i think Gatot succeed in it, surely Roesli have a wonderful voice and starting from indo folk music explore avant and jazz path. For any listener who has a huge curiosity and want to explore new way!

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 Titik Api by ROESLI, HARRY  album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.79 | 5 ratings

BUY
Titik Api
Harry Roesli RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Excellent Marriage of Gamelan and Modern Equipment. Nothing Likes it!

It's really an honor for me that finally I was able to ADD the most prominent progressive and contemporary music legend from Indonesia, Harry Roesli, being featured here at the most comprehensive progressive music site in the world: ProgArchives. Why is it an honor? Yes, there are many talented and professional music observers and reviewers in Indonesia who are, I think, very competent to write about this legendary musician. Actually it has been quite a long time ago I planned to feature Harry Roesli here, especially during the time when I added Guruh Gipsy.

Mid seventies was a very critical period in the Indonesian music scene. Rock music dominated the scene and many rock bands played cover version of legendary bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, ELP, Genesis, Kansas etc. But in another stream, there was a movement by a group of musicians / bands who really searched for their own identity by exploring their music talents. One was Guruh Soekarno Putro (the son of Indonesian first president) with his colleagues in Gipsy who made their activities around Menteng area (Jakarta's Beverly Hills). The other one was Harry Roesli in Bandung. Both groups explore the possibilities to marry traditional music with pentatonic notes and modern music equipment with diatonic notes. The efforts of both groups seemed quite difficult as they spent their experiments over months and even years. But the results were remarkable with Guruh Gipsy's successful efforts to blend gamelan Bali with what at that time so called "art rock" music or symphonic prog under current terminology. While the group from Bandung led by Harry Roesli and supported by well known music magazine which helped the acceleration of rock music in Indonesia, AKTUIL, resulted Harry Roesli's "Titik Api" in 1976.

Having heard the bootleg tape of Harry Roesli's rock opera "Ken Arok" in 1976, I had no difficulty at all digesting "Titik Api" when I purchased the cassette at that time. I could not really believe that an Indonesian which was not famous at all in prog music (not even rock music) was able to produce this masterpiece album. Hmm .. I recently found out couple of months ago that in fact that the invention of rock 'n' roll music in the 50s before Elvis Presley time was made by a group of men from Indonesia who made their music in Netherland, called The Tielman Brothers. Is it true? That's what I found from the analysis. As this is debatable, I don't want to open the discussion on this.

Sekar Jepun is truly a very experimental music in nature as this opening track has successfully blended the sounds of keyboard, electric guitar, bass and drums with traditional instruments: gamelan and rebab. Gamelan is basically something like vibraphone but with a bell-shaped form. The sound is very unique and inspiring. While rebab is something similar with violin with different shape. The intro part of Sekar Jepun is very intriguing and at the same time is very uplifting. For those who like prog rock music added with traditional instruments, this song will definitely satisfy you. I think the most important and interesting part is the marriage of keyboard (which has become the key unique characteristic of any Harry Roesli music) with the dynamics of gamelan sounds. It's really inspiring!

Merak is basically a song about the existence of our country, Indonesia, presented in powerful lyrics questioning the struggle of nation's direction. The music is basically pop rock music added by jazz components. The important part of this song is the drive demonstrated by vocal line by Harry Roesli, great keyboard work and dynamic drum work. "Negri cantik dimana kau kini?" was sung in strong drive. It's so powerful.

Jangga Wareng is another musical exploration with the use of gamelan, kendang, rebab combined with excellent drumming. Through this song, Harry Roesli explores gamelan (pentatonic based) as main melody while bass guitar, drums, keyboard, kendang serve as rhythm section. As the music unfolds, there is a feeling of being "peaceful" flows into my mind.

Kebo Giro is basically a traditional song which usually used as wedding ceremony in Javanese tradition. Again, Harry Roesli and his gang had composed it in such a way that the textures have been enriched through marrying the traditional instruments with modern music instruments.

Prolog is a powerful song with excellent opening which explores unique keyboard sound (typical Harry Roesli music, and I have never heard it by other musicians). The opening part is followed by traditional music using kendang (a kind of percussion) as main rhythm section augmented by gamelan.

Curah Hujan is basically a jazzy exploration with powerful voice of Harry Roesli and excellent acoustic guitar rhythm section backed by keyboard. The other strong points of this song are the nice melody and choirs performed by female backing vocal.

Semut is basically symphonic prog in nature as it opens with long sustain keyboard solo in ambient style followed by eerie vocal line. The use of acoustic guitar that accompanies the keyboard and vocal has enriched the texture of the song. It's basically a simple song which has strong message and intriguing nuance delivered by the voice of Harry Roesli and keyboard.

Bunga Bunga Surga is in similar vein like "Curah Hujan" : a combination of pop, rock and jazz with good melody and strong lyrical verses. The other interesting point is the melody line that flows naturally.

Lembe Lembe is a traditional song rearranged in explorative way by Harry Roesli using a blend of equipment ranging from traditional instruments to modern ones. For most Indonesian, this is a famous traditional song but it sounds differently with this version. It's really excellent experimentation.

Dinding Tulang is a unique rock song with some prog elements. The arrangement is actually quite complex but it's accessible to most people. I can tell you that the music of this song is very original and it's free of influences by other bands / artists.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a true Indonesian progressive music album with barely no influence from any other well known band. You will find nothing like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP or any other legendary bands. Harry Roesli has successfully built a music of his own, with its original music style. This album will satisfy those of you who appreciate original music - a music which finds its own identity, immune from other influences. It's definitely a masterpiece of progressive music with full five stars rating. Highly recommended! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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