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Discus - 1st

I was fortunate to catch Discus live in Menlo Park(California) in 2000, and, although I knew nothing about them before that night, they were an impressive band to see. This 8-piece band consists of musicians with different musical backgrounds, but they are led by a guitarist/composer who loves progressive rock. Discus's music tends to mix prog, jazz, Indonesian pop, Gamelan, Zappa, swing, fusion, and even a bit of zeuhl to form a highly original, and diverse sound. These guys, for example, are not afraid of jumping from a progressive Gamelan section straight into something influenced by the 1940s jazz scene. The jump from style to style is fascinating, and refreshing to hear. Discus's debut CD serves as a great introduction to each of the musician's background(almost similar in concept to Yes's Fragile), but it isn't entirely progressive rock. The album begins and ends with two rather long prog compositions that mix Gamelan and local influences. Another track features smoking Zappa-esque fusion. But most of the other tracks tend to explore other genres while introducing the various musician's skills and favorite musical style. One track, for instance, explores swing, another track explores Indonesian pop, and another track explores modern classical. There is quite alot of variety that is sure to please music fans in general, but I recommend 1st to prog fans who are searching for something unique, and not completely in the prog rock category.

Guruh Gypsy - Guruh Gypsy

This 1977 album is scheduled to be issued on CD pretty soon(in fact, it's out in Indonesia already, and will soon be released in the US and Europe), but I managed to receive a CDR copy while waiting for the official CD to hit the states. Wow, this is some excellent prog! Back in the mid-70s, Guruh Gypsy got the idea to mix keyboard-based prog rock(keys, guitar, bass, drums) with a Balinese orchestra(including choir), and a western-styled orchestra. Not only did the experiment work then, but it is now influencing younger Indonesian bands, like Discus, today. The original LP features two longs tracks(12 and 15-minutes), and 4 shorter tracks(2, 6, 7, and 8-minutes). The 15-minute track starts off in a grandiose, prog-epic, sort of way. Obvious influences include ELP and Yes, as your ears get treated with hammond organ riffs, smooth Moog synth, Energetic Palmer-like drumming, and melodic changes galore. After the guitarist comes in, things dramatically start to change. As the band begins to settle down on a theme, the Balinese orchestra comes in with gongs, and tuned-percussion. By this time, you know you're in for something unique and different, and I won't give the ending away. After that epic, the musicians decide to give the ELP/Yes prog style a rest in favor of something mellower(a lament). This track combines Indonesian Gamelan percussion, with a western symphonic sound that flirts with Asian melodies. What strikes me about this group, at this point, is their eerie, haunting, and mysterious sound. The fourth track is another standout composition that needs mentioning. "Jager 1897 Saka" mixes traditional Indonesian/Balinese melodies(which could be compared to Vietnamese Opera to give you some idea) with a western orchestra. The tonalities, orchestral colors, and vocals are 100% Asian, yet the tension build-up and release is similar to Yes's "And You and I". Overall, I'm looking forward to the official CD release. Fans of Discus, and prog fans who have an interest in Asian experimental music are in for a treat.

Indonesian Prog Rock














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