Monday, June 24, 2013

Guruh Gipsy Is The Anti-Jethro Tull


I know that this is a Math Rock blog, but I'm writing my first post about a Progressive Rock album because fuck the cops. Guruh Gipsy is a collaborative album between the Indonesian composer Guruh Sukarnoputra (the son of Indonesia's first president) and the Indonesian progressive rock band Gipsy. This album is unique because it blends western progressive rock idioms with traditional Indonesian ones in a way that doesn't feel forced or out of place. The parts of this record that sound like cheesy Close To The Edge era Yes transition so seamlessly into, and blend so absurdly well with the traditional central-Javanese vocal delivery, western-Javanese modes and Balinese Gamelan riffs that you almost forget about the gratuitous 3 minute long synthesizer and guitar solos that litter the more prog-rock oriented sections. 

I'm generally not crazy about Progressive Rock of this era, but I give a lot of fucks about the interaction between Western and Non-Western musics and this album uses that interaction to keep itself sounding fresh even when it falls into classic prog wankery.

Sukarnoputra, who is currently a member of Indonesia's People's Representative Council wrote most of the music, and plays piano and Gendér, with Chrisye, the bassist from Gipsy providing most of the vocals. The album was recorded and produced independently, with an original release in 1976 of only 5000 copies, but received widespread critical acclaim at the time. Since then, the record has come to be regarded as a classic of Indonesian rock, and in 2007 Rolling Stone Indonesia named Guruh Gipsy the second best Indonesian record of all time. I highly recommend this record to anyone who likes lush instrumentation, or is interested in learning more about Indonesian traditional music but doesn't know where to start. 







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