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Discus - 1st CD (album) cover

1ST

Discus

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.79 | 33 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album deserves five stars but .

It's very tempting for me to give this album with a full five star rating considering many tracks that really blew me away the first time I heard it. Psst . because I'm an Indonesian and proud being a Javanese by ethnic, I'd better refrain myself giving this album with a full five star because some of you might think that I'm promoting band of my country. So, you see my position .it's tough. But, bear with me . I have a strong aim being an independent reviewer which sometimes is very hard to achieve as every one has their own personal tastes, preferences and nationality. So in this review, I'm trying to give a fair deal for all of you. Luckily, Hibou's description about DISCUS and also review by Greger have given very strong signal about how good DISCUS is. I believe that Hibou and Greger are not Indonesians. I even hard to believe that some people in my country do not appreciate this album really well with statement like: "Good but not that good". Come on . give me a break man! This album deserves minimum four stars! I put my neck on it .

Now . sit back and relax.. Be open mind and spin the CD and enjoy the music subtleties produced by this album. You will hear strange male chanting "Aaaaa .aaaa. aaaa" in ambient nuance as the CD starts off with "Lamentation & Fantasia Gamelantronique" (8:14). It continues with female chanting in Sundanese / Javanese accent "eaw eow .." followed with xylophone / gamelan sound in complex music arrangement but with great composition. This opening track is truly a masterpiece as it blends elements of gamelan Bali, Sundanese music sound through flute, jazz, rock with heavy guitar riffs, inventive drum work and avant-garde saxophone. Can you imagine that this song has full stream of styles representing Return To Forever, Frank Zappa, Kansas, Colosseum, Barbara Thompson's Pharanelia, Dream Theater, and ethnic music. But, this is not a derivative at all as all elements form together uniquely as a new kind of music I have never heard before. The sound of gamelan Bali at background combined with Sundanese flute is something that we, in Indonesia, have never it before.

The second track "For This Love" (6:18) is a purely jazz music with great voice line by female vocalist Nonnie and great guitar solo interlude. It's not truly prog but this song provides an excellent break after the full blast of energetic first track. Wanna know another greatck? Try third track "Doc's Tune"! It's a wonderfully crafted instrumental song in jazz rock fusion style reminiscent of Return To Forever or Al Di Meola. I can assure you that you will agree with me on how great this track is whenever you enjoy it by yourself. It starts with great keyboard work in punctuated style followed with relatively fast tempo music in jazzy style with a great combination of keyboard, guitar and saxophone. The drum sound provides jazz beats. The duet solo of sax and guitar in fast tempo is really cool.

I'm not a great fan of chamber music but the performance of the band in Condissonance (trio for violin, bass clarinet & 21-string Harpguitar)" (5:54) gives me no sign of getting bored. I even enjoy it even though it's a bit hard for my ears. I get used to it. "Dua Cermin (Two Mirrors)"(5:41) ( is an acceptable music with jazz and pop touches featuring duet in vocals by Nonnie and Iwan Hasan - the leader of the band, an alumnae of Berkley music school. It's not that prog but this track is very enjoyable. But hold on . the interlude part is really prog. "Wujudkan!" (4:39) is another medium- fast tempo track with duet vocals by Nonnie and Iwan Hasan. I like the voice quality of Iwan Hasan.

"Violin Metaphysics (music for violin & digital delay)" (5:40) is exploratory in nature - as the title implies. It reminds me to the work of David Cross solo album and King Crimson's "Island". If you listen to this album during midnight, you will get the full nuance of the music and you might like it or hate it. "Anugerah" (4:11) is another jazzy pop song featuring Nonnie's vocal. It provides good break for the album. The interlude part which features violin solo, sax and stunning guitar work is really an excellent part of this album.

The concluding track "Contrasts (incl. the traditional theme "Gambang Suling")" (12:57) is an epic with 6 parts including traditional song which is famous in Indonesia. The music composition is good - with rocking guitar at opening followed with Sundanese flute in avant-garde style performing an improvised version of Gambang Suling. The beauty of this composition is again on the perfect marriage between Sundanese and Balinese music that form unique music. Guitar work inserts in between music, sometime in metal fashion.

Overall, this album is not just good but it's at least "excellent" addition to any prog music collection. I like the varied music elements presented here and all elements are merged wonderfully in a cohesive music. I wtached their last concert in Jakarta, May 2005 and it was AWESOME! I highly recommend you to have this CD in your collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours - GW

The band is now touring Europe: Switzerland, Germany during the month of October 2005. You should be there in their concert. See with your own eyes and ears how this 8-piece band will amaze you!

Gatot | 4/5 |

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