Guitarist Dewa Budjana continues to stretch out in his syntheses of trad, World, fusion, and even contagiously modified Jazz Lite sounds, that odd side era of 80s that kinda harked back to the previous decade, the 70s and its transit of manifold experimentations (Lonnie Liston Smith, the Kudu and CTI labels, Shadowfax, Hiroshima, Egan & Gottlieb, etc.—hell, even Focus!). I know what you're thinking ("Whaaaat, 94.7 The Waaa-a-aave, are ya kidding me?!?!" if you're from L.A.), because that often drippy wrinkle mostly missed the boat, but, fortunately for us, Budjana displays the same genre-bending wisdom trotted out by Cassiopeia, Mezzoforte, Solution, Passport, Jasper van't Hof, and the still largely-unknown subterranean stream of idiosyncratists who loved to dance, be-bop, softshoe, and groove as well as trace lightning. The time obviously has come for those elder fields to renew themselves after so long a fallowing, and that's precisely what's happening here.
In doing so, the transplanted fretbender (D.B. hails from the Pacific Rim) put together a dynamic quartet, and I have to say Antonio Sanchez is one hellishly colorful drummer, fully half the sound of the foursome when he cranks into things, a well of irresistible energies, an overpowering presence. Thus Joe Locke and his vibes labor crystallinely in tempering the atmospheres—'cause Dewa is usually on fire right beside Sanchez—cooling stratospheric passages down to equatorial benefices, Ben Williams' bass flanking him, drawing out the borders of the metallophonic resonances.
The further the disc progresses, though, the more progressive it becomes until, by the time Jayaprana arrives, you're enmeshed in a hypnotic swirl of interlocking rhythms and exchanges, much like Gong's Time is the Key meeting Weather Report during its serially repetitive era (touring with DiMeola as opener, y'all might remember), Paul Winter's Consort directing the affair. Ah, but there are many modernities tagging along for the ride as well, and one will note more than a few similarities 'twixt Budjana's lines in this outing and the work of Chuck Loeb as that worthy continues his own evolutions. No, proghedz, this ain't King Crimson, Flame Dream, Porcupine Tree, or Santana; rather, Hasta Karma is one of those rare mutant affairs sporting a thousand tropic flavors as it warps any number of multi-genre conventions in order to ensure we never get too confident about any of our expectations. And the icing on the cake? Take a gander at the song lengths. Sweeeeeeet!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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