It would be quite a huge risk to take both of the genres of the Canterbury scene and the Jazz Rock sound of the ‘70s to give it a heavier beat. But when you have an Indonesian band like I Know You Well Miss Clara, who has been around since 2009, you can expect the unexpected. The band came around from the Indonesia Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta which is a college university helping students to teach them about visual aid, performance, and the media arts to show the styles of international music and the sounds of Jazz Rock fits the band perfectly.
The band considers Reza Ryan on Guitar, Adi Wijaya on Keyboards, Enriko Gultom on Bass, and Alfiah Akbar on Drums. Their debut album, Chapter One, released this year from Moonjune Records, is very much a laid-back, groovy, trip to memory lane, and a fantastic instrumental album that is a magical experience. Hypnotic guitar lines, Flourishing Organ turned Rhodes-like sounds on the keyboards, and impressive drum work laying down the beats and tempos. It’s really quite a journey to go on while seeing where the quartet would take different areas of the sound. Not to mention it was recorded in 18 hours from start to finish and picking the right takes and the right notes and where they would go with it.
The opening 10-minute suite, Open The Door, See the Ground, begins with a minor melodic chord progression done by Wijaya as he sets the tone on what is to come. At first, it’s a tribute to Gentle Giant’s introduction line on Pantagruel’s Nativity, before Akbar and Gultom create this disturbing walking line as Reza comes in full swing with this guitar work as he comes in at the exact moment by doing his mind-boggling work on the instrument as he goes in the style of John McLaughlin, Robert Fripp, and Allan Holdsworth.
And then it becomes frenzy for the last 3-minutes as they go through a spaced out attack as if it was recorded for the sessions for Pawn Hearts before Wijaya closes the piece with a dramatic turned sinister finale on the piano. Conversation and Pop Sick Love Carousel are more of a Canterbury ‘s take of Steely Dan’s Aja-era as Wijaya creates some Thelonious Monk-like beats on the Rhodes as Reza comes up with a bluesy-soul beat on the solo while the gloomy yet ambient aspects on Reverie #2 is at first a free-for-all as keyboards and funk-bass wah-wah collide and the drumming goes into a Bruford-like beat and guitar just goes into haywire mode that is like an alarm siren going off as it goes into a panic mode! Intensity gets the better of the music.
Love Letter from Canada is back into the ambient surroundings. The Rhodes, Minor Guitar Chords, and coolness on the drums, makes it almost a touch of Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra-era that has this emotional and balladry surroundings to the love of the town, the state, and the Maple Leaf. Dangerous Kitchen is a wooshing psych chord progressions as Reza Ryan comes into town with these wonderful minor sounds on his guitar as the band come into a Bebop movement and it’s in the style of King Crimson’s Island-era and the Soft Machine’s Third-era as they are combined into one.
The closer, A Dancing Girl from the Planet Marsavishnu Named After the Love, is a homage to the great Jazz Rock band of the ‘70s, The Mahavishnu Orchestra. It begins with various movements from their work and it’s quite a wonderful tribute to McLaughlin, Laird, Cobham, Hammer, and Goodman. The band shows their true love and passion of this music and how they were heavily inspired of the Mahavishnu’s music.
If Matching Mole, D.F.A, Hatfield and the North, and the Soft Machine had a younger nephew, it would be I Know You Well Miss Clara, and Moonjune have done a fabulous job signing this band to their label. There is always some good feelings when it comes to the label. Whether its Marbin, Mahogany Frog, The Wrong Object, and Machine Mass Trio, you know something wonderful is about to happen. Chapter One is a blessing and it’s a must have album for any Jazz or Prog fan to understand the meaning of the combination of the two.