Bali has been worldwide known as one of the most beautiful islands in Indonesia. In other name, this is Land of Gods which is surrounded by sunny beaches, Hindu temples, or Balinese rice paddy sites in Ubud area and Pupuan. Meanwhile, Bali is also famous for its culture and art with strong influence from Hindu spirit and its philosophy. As the result, most Balinese artists pour their talents in painting, sculpture, literature, and even music. Among all these famous Balinese artists, there is one talented guitarist named Dewa Budjana.
Aside from his fame as guitarist in GIGI Band, Budjana already has long journey in his career; both in solo and other well-remembered groups, some of them are still exist until now. His musical history began after he bought his first guitar at the age of eleven and learned guitar by himself. He finally had a chance to explore guitar more after he moved to Surabaya, where he took a classic guitar class, and formed his first band, Squirrel. At that time he was still a high school student.
Budjana’s lifework expanded after he moved to Jakarta and met Jack Lesmana. Jack taught him about jazz and introduced him to other musicians. Budjana started becoming a session player before he joined Spirit Band in 1987 and released 2 albums. He left the band to join Indra Lesmana’s JAVAJAZZ and released ‘Bulan di Asia’ album in 1993. In 1994, along with Armand Maulana, Aria Baron, Thomas Ramdhan, and Ronald Fristianto, he formed the band GIGI and it aimed its famous. Today it stands as one of the most famous rock bands in Indonesia. While JAVAJAZZ recently made its return in Red White Jazz Lounge (read the report from that event here), we have to mention another group where he has involved, Trisum. Here, he collaborates with two other guitar maestros, Tohpati and Balawan and surprised people with their explorative creation. Trisum so far has made two albums, ‘1st Edition’ and ‘Five in One’. This March Trisum will come back to the Java Jazz Festival 2012 and that is certainly worth to wait. Besides these groups, Dewa Budjana also has a successful solo career since 1998.
Endways year 2011, we got a pleasant surprise knowing that Dewa Budjana finally launched his new solo album, “Dawai in Paradise”. Dawai in Paradise (Dawai means String in English) is his fifth album after ‘Nusa Damai’ (1998), ‘Gitarku’ (2000), ‘Samsara’ (2003), and ‘Home’ (2005). In this album which was produced independently we can hear 3 of his new songs (“Gangga”, “Masa Kecil” and “Dawaiku”) plus compilation of his compositions from the previous albums. The reason of placing selections of his previous tracks was explained by Budjana as “My previous albums are no longer available, so I picked each two songs from them and added 3 new songs that have never been released into album yet. Some of these compositions were recorded live and the others reinterpreted again in studio recording.” he said. A very artistic cover art gives more nuances into this album with interesting title. “I named the album “Dawai in Paradise” as interpretation of my passion for guitar. It is my great hope that these Dawai can sound like Paradise on earth.” he says.
This album continues the path that Dewa Budjana loves to take when he is doing his solo albums. While the guitar playing is captivating, his ethnical nuances flow naturally in his compositions. “Many people say that they can feel Balinese nuance inside the character of my compositions… So, ethnic is it? Maybe it is my blood which cannot lie… But I love it better than having people say my song sounds like the western style. And that’s because, truly, I really love our culture.” said Budjana. “All of my songs were born naturally based on my life reflection, and that describes the true-self of Me.” he added.
“Gangga” becomes the first song in this album which will greet your ears and ease your mood. It was originally composed during Budjana’s spiritual journey in India; therefore it was thicken by spiritual ambiance. While he was in Rishikesh, the lyric Love is our Wisdom, Love is our Passion, Love is our Destiny, Love is our Karma emerged in there. “Everything about love appears there, that’s what I felt.” he said. Having performed by Dewi Gita and Dira Sugandi in the past on this song, Budjana thought it would be perfect to bring Sophia Latjuba in for the recording. “Sophia Latjuba has an unique voice. I’ve been interested to have her voice within my composition for so long, plus in Gangga I need more of soft voice to fill it up.” With her sheer voice and Indian singer Vinod Gangani’s, “Gangga” is more than just a beautiful song. It is epical. Another song titled “Malacca Bay” is also phenomenal; it is the longest track within album which is so rich with various jazz sub genres like lounge jazz, bop, and fusion. You can easily enjoy it.
There are many songs that have personal meaning to Budjana, includes “Masa Kecil”. It makes you want to step back in time to your childhood years. Next stop is another beautiful ballad with the intense sound of drums from Ronald Fristianto and flute from Saat Syah. “Backhome”; somehow you will think of home when you listen to this song. “Dawaiku”, a minimalist composition only played by guitar from Budjana and harmonica from Howard Levy describes the love of a father to his son. “I dedicate this song for my youngest son Shakti Dawainanda.” Budjana explains. Not to forget “Caka 1922”, a meditative composition that sounds deeply spiritual and peaceful, also “Kunang-kunang” or Fireflies, with harmony sound of synth, suling (Indonesian flute), and guitar at the begining of the song; this composition tells a story about the beauty of the creature.
But prepare your ears for “Kromatik Lagi” and “Lalu Lintas”. Budjana has been known as fusion aka jazz rock musician. Recorded live within one day, the colaboration with Sandy Winata in drum and Shadu Rasjidi in bass has created these songs as two Pat Metheney’s inspired compositions with the touch of rock genre. Other track “Rerad Rerod”, with the intro of Gamelan and vocals from Kadek dan Dewi; this ethnic composition shows Budjana’s cultural background from Bali. After that, Budjana will satisfy your ears with “On the Way Home”. Gamelan is still played to open this song along with some animal voices like frog and cricket. Without leaving his fusion style yet, this last track of the album shows that he strongly belongs to Bali.
Let’s welcome Dewa Budjana back with his new CD, “Dawai in Paradise”. Three new songs and eight rearranged well-known compositions are more than enough to bring us into the ‘dawai’ paradise. It is very well recommended, especially to anyone who has not had a chance to know his previous musical compositions as well as to you who want to hear the new masterpieces of Budjana. You can explore the true personality of Budjana in this album, more than that you will know him as an excellent guitarist. “Dawai in Paradise” is about Dewa Budjana’s life journey as a family man, a Balinese descendant, a Hindu devotee, and a passionate artiste. Those are parts of himself that he is proud of.
On the Way Home
Buy the album at Jazzuality Online Store: http://store.jazzuality.com/products/cd/dewa-budjana-dawai-in-paradise/