This Indonesian group goes proggily for broke in their English language songs, of which on this album there are three, but when they sing in their native language the music becomes sweeter and you suddenly remember that Indonesia is also the home of dangdut pop and romantic singers like Elvy Sukaesih. Ghede Chokra’s is a reissue of an album that came out in 1970 and signs of the time are all over it. There are prog guitars and there are prog flutes and there are lyrics about sweetly goofy trippy hippie subjects (for example, butterflies) and the picture on the cover shows the whole thing taking place in an interplanetary void with angel-winged galactic space whales, which is undeniably awesome. Lead singer and founder Benny Soebardja sings falsetto at times when he really, truly, in all honesty, possibly shouldn’t. Yet you’re proud of him for doing it, for going to lengths that a less dedicated man would shrink from out of modesty or self-consciousness. Or is it only the poor quality of the old recording making his voice sound more strangled than it should? It’s hard to tell. Never mind. There’s something ineffably charming about this unabashed flower-child music with its whales and butterflies, and not even aged source vinyl can ruin it.
// Notes from the Road
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