Sabah Habas Mustapha & The Jugala All Stars
Bandung is the capital city of the province of Sunda, West Java, where there is a diverse and active pop music scene. That's where Sabah Habas Mustapha (British bass guitarist Colin Bass) has made numerous trips during the past decade to learn, enjoy, document, play and record this music. The Jugala All Stars are Indonesian musicians who play a faster, more pumped up version of traditional Sundanese village music. By augmenting the traditional percussion with modern drumming and by centering the group on a female vocalist (in this case, Tati Ani Mogiono), the Jugala All Stars have created a type of fresh Indonesian pop sound.
So La Li, the second album from Mustapha and the Jugala All Stars, is a cross-cultural journey encompassing a wide range of sounds and styles. "Di Nagara Deungeun" is a wistful guitar-based song that cuts the deep groove of Nigerian fuji. "Bubi Chen" is a haunting flute-centered instrumental that references the gamelan tradition. "Ningal Gunung" invokes the Indonesian countryside. It features Mogiono on melancholy vocals and the soaring suling (bamboo flute) by Asep Maung. "Geulis" and "So La Li" are examples of jaipongan, a kind of Indonesian fusion that mixes dance rhythms with Sundanese melodies. "Seuri" is a soft rock ballad from an old Sunda melancholy they call "Sakit Hati." "Beber Layar" is a modern degung melody set to a traditional text about hoisting the sail to set out on a journey.
For the dancefloor-oriented audience, the album's global rhythms are both strangely familiar and exotic. The high level of the ensemble playing will appeal to the listener seeking pumped up and revitalized indigenous roots music. For musical seekers who treasure new discoveries this is an open door to a delightful world of music. - Aaron Howard
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