With the release of his latest effort for MoonJune Records, Mahandini, Indonesian guitarist/composer Dewa Budjana seems destined to be heard by a much larger audience. For one, his last album Zentuary appeared on Steve Vai's Favored Nation label, definitely a place that will gain exposure to larger audiences thirsty for quality guitar oriented music. Second, Mahandini contains a few VERY notable guest stars that are sure to get more eyes on this new platter of rock, jazz, and prog, one of whom being Dream Theater keyboard virtuoso Jordan Rudess, who appears on the entire album along with drum magician Marco Minnemann. Rounding out the line-up is the very talented bassist Mohini Dey, but wait, there's more, including some appearances by Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, jazz guitar legend Mike Stern, and Indonesian vocalist/actress Soimah Pancawati. With prior collaborations with musicians such as Tony Levin, Chad Wackerman, Peter Erskine, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Sheehan, John McLaughlin, and Guthrie Govan, among many others, Budjana is very quietly becoming one of the 'go-to' players on the scene, and it won't be long before he's a household name.
Of course, to become a household name, your music has to back it up, and Mahandini is just sensational from start to finish. "Crowded" starts things off here with vocals from Frusciante, as the band lays down more of a standard rock arrangement, and it's a catchy one with some crisp guitar work from Budjana & the RHCP legend, Rudess also adding in some fine keyboard tones. "Queen Kanya" follows, a blistering fusion romp with tasty guitar lines and killer rhythms from the Minnemann/Dey team and a boatload of gorgeous piano and synth lines from the Dream Theater member. Pancawati lends her vocal talents to "Hyang Girl", as she floats over the top of some raucous jazz-fusion passages, including some scorching guitar solos from the leader and nimble bass lines courtesy of Dey. Majestic piano from Rudess adorns the beautiful "Jung Oman", another track ripe with sizzling, melodic solos from the leader, which gives way to the harder rocking fusion barnburner "ILW", an energetic excursion featuring rock riffs, symphonic keyboards, acrobatic drumming from Minnemann, and dueling solos from Stern and Dewa. Mike's extended jaunt contains all his trademark lightning fast explosions, and is a great inclusion here, while his counterpart provides a host of speedy legato runs and whammy bar theatrics. The title cut is a wonderful slice of melodic jazz-fusion, intricate rhythms percolating under a wealth of memorable guitar & keyboard melodies, with a bass & electric piano solo thrown in for good measure. Closing out the album is "Zone", another tune featuring the lead vocals of Frusciante, with arrangements that combine melodic prog rock and jazz, Budjana also launching into an emotional solo dripping with killer tone and feel.
A little something for everyone here on Mahandini, an album chock full of memorable melodies and very impressive musical arrangements. Dewa Budjana has once again shown us why he is one of the must hear guitar players on the fusion scene...well done!
Crowded (feat. John Frusciante) 05:55
Queen Kanya 06:59 video
Hyang Giri (feat. Soimah Pancawati) 07:44
Jung Oman 06:52
ILW (feat. Mike Stern) 06:39
Zone (feat. John Frusciante) 05:56