Dewa Budjana: Hasta Karma

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Dewa Budjana: Hasta Karma
In the mid-1990s, Gary Burton organized sessions that truly deserved to be called "all-star"—teaming the ace vibes player with guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Roy Haynes—and which resulted in the acclaimed Like Minds (1998, Concord). With all respect due to the amazing credentials of Burton and friends, Dewa Budjana's Hasta Karma frequently echoes and matches the stunning, glistening beauty of the music made by Burton's five Like Minds.

For his fourth MoonJune release, this visionary guitarist teams with bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez, the rhythm engine of Pat Metheny's Unity Band; this core is joined by vibes player Joe Locke and keyboardist Indra Lesmana, a native of Indonesia like Budjana. "I was really impressed by their discipline," Budjana reveals in his liner notes, "and how smoothly and precisely they executed each track. They really gave different souls to each song, far beyond what I had imagined—especially Antonio, with his unique rhythmic variations. It was great to have the current Pat Metheny rhythm section, and working with a vibraphonist was a total novelty for me; my guitar and Joe's vibraphone matched and blended perfectly, like a Gamelan."

Hasta Karma is lush and ripe with flowing, beautiful melodies. Locke's vibes swimming in the rhythm beneath Budjana's soaring, singing electric guitar —doubling and counterpointing its lines—creates a shimmering, bright beauty in the opening "Saniscara," a beauty that Budjana's subsequent solo shreds in a spasms of electric guitar god glory. Locke's vibes leads "Just Kidung" through its nimble, sing-song melody; Locke and Budjana drop out to create room for thoughtful solos by the rhythm section and pianist before the melody reunites the ensemble and Budjana unleashes hard rocking buzzsaw guitar to close.

"Ruang Dialisis" emerges from more personal space. After wading through an electronic sound portrait very much like Robert Fripp-ertronics, it settles into a stately and somber rhythm which parts for a sampled, looped, and very human vocal—the voice of Budjana's grandmother chanting the traditional Mamuit farewell song at the funeral of her son, Budjana's father. (She too passed away six months later.) Budjana concludes with a soft misty reflection through "Payogan Rain."

Amazingly, Hasta Karma is the result of a single session recorded in a single day. "We had an International World Combination," Budjana suggests, "from Balinese roots melody lines with Mexican jazz drumming to African-American bass grooves and Western vibraphone, it's totally a world music. I like these kinds of multi-dimensional, multicultural, multi-ethnic combinations—they're really inspiring."

Track Listing

Saniscara; Desember; Jayaprana; Ruang Dialisis; Just Kidung; Payogan Rain.


Dewa Budjana: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; Joe Locke: vibraphone; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Ben Williams: upright bass; Indra Lesmana: piano, melodica; Jro Ktut: vocals.

Album information

Title: Hasta Karma | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

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