Moonjune Records has done a fabulous job in recent years unearthing exciting new progressive rock, avant-garde, and jazz fusion groups from Indonesia. Their latest find is the act that calls themselves I Know You Well Miss Clara, and their debut for the label is titled Chapter One. Featuring guitar wizard Reza Ryan, keyboard phenom Adi Wijaya, bassist Enriko Gultom, and drummer Alfiah Akbar, the band play a lyrical and melodic form of progressive rock & jazz-fusion that will thrill any lover of classic Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X, and National Health.
Many of the tracks here are fairly lengthy and allow plenty of room for the players to strut their stuff. Opener "Open the Door, See the Ground" is a fiery slice of ripping jazz-rock, complete with molten guitar & keyboard solos over furious rhythms, while the melodic, laid back "Conversation" sees airy electric piano from Wijaya support some tasty lead guitar lines courtesy of Ryan. Wijaya's majestic electric piano again commands on the alluring "Pop Sick Carousel", reminding of classic Chick Corea, Jan Hammer, and Joe Zawinul, and he trades some serious licks with Ryan as the piece ebbs and flows during its six minute duration, even throwing in a nifty organ solo for good measure.
The near 15-minute epic "Reverie # 2" is gorgeous, melodic prog, that starts off soothing and lyrical before Gultom's throbbing bass lines come in and the tune kicks into funky fusion ala early '70s Miles Davis. Ryan roars and rumbles with some fiery lead guitar work alongside Wijaya's deft electric piano lines. Great stuff. "Love Letter From Canada" tones things down a bit, as emotional & atmospheric guitar notes from Ryan and light keyboard washes create a feeling of severe melancholy, but that doesn't last long as the band comes right back with the quirky "Dangerous Kitchen", a fun track with guest sax player Nicholas Combe that reminded me of Chick Corea's Elektric Band a little with its sultry sax, walking bass lines, intelligent piano, tight drumming, and muscular guitar. Gotta love the homage to the Mahavishnu Orchestra on "A Dancing Girl From the Planet Mahavishnu Named After the Love", a real early '70 throwback that again features some killer guitar & keyboard work, as well as Combe's silky sax lines.
Moonjune lists Chapter One as an 'immediately essential initial offering' from I Know You Well Miss Clara, and I can't say I disagree with that statement at all. Modern day progressive fusion with a strong look back at the greats of the '70s is all the rage here, and I can't wait to see what this band has in store for us next. As a first chapter, it's a very good one indeed.
1) Open the Door, See the Ground
3) Pop Sick Love Carousel
4) Reverie # 2
5) Love Letter From Canada
6) Dangerous Kitchen
7) A Dancing Girl From the Planet Mahavishnu Named After the Love