Dewa Budjana is, for me, one of the most incredible guitar players to emerge from MoonJune Records, and whenever he releases an album I know that my ears will perk up with the new ideas he’s come up with. Working with musicians such as Peter Erskine, Jimmy Johnson, Danny Markovich, Gary Husband, Tony Levin, Jack DeJohnette and Antonio Sanchez, to name a few, Dewa picks some killer artists to lend him a helping hand.
Mahandini is Dewa’s eleventh studio album and his sixth international studio release, a follow-up to Zentuary, which is released on Steve Vai’s Favored Nation label.
Dewa brings more of his spirituality to Mahandini, taking the listener into parallel universes where World Music, Jazz, Classical, and Alternative music move far beyond the genre of Progressive Rock.
Recorded in a one-day session in Los Angeles, Dewa brought in Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess on keyboards, Marco Minnemann on drums and Mohini Dey on bass guitar, plus special guests including Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante on vocals, Blood Sweat and Tears guitarist Mike Stern and vocalist Soimah Pancawati.
On Queen Kanya, Dewa initially employs his guitar to create sonic images of mountainous landscapes before it turns into a soaring atmospheric voyage, using arpeggiated textures to climb through the rocks, before heading into the momentum of THRAK-era King Crimson. Rudess enters the piece by playing some classical-turned-jazzy piano sections, in the style of George Gershwin, which is followed by an intensive rhythmic section between Marco and Mohini. Not only can Mohini play the bass really well, but she honours the styles of the funk-master himself, Bootsy Collins. The track also features Mohini performing rapid fire konnakol vocalisations, before Marco channels his drum rolls to see where they will take the music next.
Soimah Pancawati’s vocals on Hyang Giri bring the delicate inner beauty of exotic Indonesian locations, before the band head into Hot Rats territory. Soimah brings Dewa to wonderful new areas and lends a helping hand to the challenging approach, but Dewa can take it up a notch, as he honours the styles of Frank Zappa and Steve Vai before the concerto piano work of Rudess opens up for Mohini, walking Jaco Pastorius’ tightrope by increasing the tempo.
Mike Stern appears on ILW, bringing textures of the late great Allan Holdsworth, Dewa following him in hot pursuit. Both of the guitar players make their fretboards red hot in an incredible duel, racing towards the finish line like an epic highway sequence.
The closing track, Zone, sees the return of John Frusciante’s vocals. I wasn’t to taken with his part on the album opener, however his vocal arrangement is stronger on this track. It feels like you’re walking down the aisle, things becoming very creepy, before he sings in the style of Oak’s We The Drowned. The arrangements has an atmospheric vibration, Dewa moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mahandini is Dewa’s finest release to date. He shows that he’s come a long way and is in no mood to stop. I hope he continues to bring in more incredible musicians to work with him, giving Dewa more possibilities for where he can take his music.
01. Crowded (5:56)
02. Queen Kanya (7:00)
03. Hyang Giri (7:45)
04. Jung Oman (6:53)
05. ILW (6:39)
06. Mahandini (8:18)
07. Zone (5:56)
Total Time – 48:28
Dewa Budjana – Guitar, Soundscapes
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
Mohini Dey – Bass Guitar and Konnakol (2)
Marco Minnemann – Drums
John Frusciante – Vocals (1 & 7)
Mike Stern – Guitar (5)
Soimah Pancawati – Lead Vocal (3)
Record Label: MoonJune Records
Catalogue Number: MJR097
Country of Origin: Indonesia
Date of Release: 10th December 2018