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Guruh Gipsy (1976)

A review of a revolutionary journey

Guruh Gipsy

Contry: Indonesia. Region: Asia • Genres: Rock, Folklore

By Apey Idris (Indonesia)
(read Spanish version)

Personnel: Guruh Sukarno Putra (Muhammad Guruh Irianto Sukarno Putra): all gamelan & lyrics. Keenan Nasution (Rada Krisnan Nasution): Drums & Vocal. Odink Nasution (Aumar Naudin Nasution): Guitars. Abadi Soesman: mini moog. Roni Harahap (Zahrun Hafni Harahap): piano & organ. Chrisye (Chrismansyah Rahadi): Bass & Vocals. Indonesia, 1976.

Not many art works in the world will still be remembered and hounded by fans and loved up in a few decades or generations later. For those works that managed to carve gold in kin their era, maybe there is one word that could be a common thread to illustrate the greatness: Phenomenal.

Guruh Gipsy is one of them. Guruh Gipsy (GG) is one of the national Indonesian masterpiece that truly proud of. From the year 1976 when this album had created, GG still able to pass the time until the third decade of music journey in Indonesia. Over that period in Indonesia, we can’t find other music works that appears so serious, complicated, and full of idealism as well as fantastic!
There is an interesting story in the early days of its release, the GG album that still on cassette format at that time was very difficult to sell.

There is one source said that to distribute and market that cassette, GG tape is entrust on a tonic drug sellers along the road Gajah Mada Jakarta, known by the term consignment. There is hardly to find record stores who are willing to buy that tape.  How come? It seems there are two main reasons most:

  • GG Price tapes was very expensive, which in the current record price at the current time is between Rp. 600 and Rp. 700,-, while GG tapes sold for Rp. 5,000,!!
  • The genre music that measure at the considered weird.

But let’s try to see what is written by Guruh Sukarno Putra, the project initiator of experimental music in the booklet sold with the tape: "Perhaps the songs area bit heavy to digest by the public. So what exactly is contained in our inner heart? In particular, we wanted to produce a work as possible to invite our young people on pay more attention to the arts in the country. For that we remain stead fast in our faith and intentionally forget some commercial terms. Music creation is what we hope to be assessed. "

It is clear that the album is not a work made ​​with commercial purposes. Noble goals of this album were made awareness the younger generation to appreciate the indigenous cultures of Indonesia. GG will concern the growing infiltration of foreign culture craze at the time (especially in Bali) the reason made ​​a few songs from that album. GG tried on carry out collaborative experiments by combining ethnic music based Balinese pentatonic scale and western music based on the diatonic scale.

Songs titled Indonesia Maharddhika that meaning wealthy of Indonesia became the opening number of this album. The intro in the early seconds is instantly signaled a thick stream of progressive rock. This Indonesia Maharddhika repertoire either into, lyrics and overall very unusual and admirable. The impression after listening to these compositions maybe equated when we listen to Bohemian Rhapsody of super group Queen. But in fact according to the composer, Indonesia Maharddhika intro song inspired from the song That's the way (I like it), a very popular disco song from the group KCand the Sunshine Band mid 70s. The lyrics of the song Indonesia Maharddhika really interesting because it uses two languages ​​Indonesian and Balinese. And if observed deeper, the lyrics using the first letters or syllables of each supporting GG members. Amazing!


Chopin Larung on the second song slipped Fantasie Impromptu from Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, combined with the traditional sounds of Bali. This work also showed GG concern over the phenomenon of inclusion western culture into culture of Indonesia (especially Balinese culture). Lyrics of songs in Chopin Larung is absolutely shows the quality of Guruh as a lyricist who dared to enter the social criticism that is not common at that time.

Progressive rock tone heard deeper on the track Barong Gundah, where the sound of the instrument Mini moog/synthesizers dominated. Influence of progressive rock that was then being dominated in the western world through Genesis, ELP, YES and etc, it is very obvious in this composition.  Next on composition Janger 1897 Saka, who gives voice intro rooster crow or the sound of people trade in the crowd of Balinese traditional market feels able to visualize Balinese people's lives at that time. GG combines Janger music with a symphony orchestra for this song.


Gelgel Geger composition is a blend of Balinese gamelan and western rock music. The sound of piano heard in this song is come from discordant piano, made ​​in such a way that it sounds like the pentatonic tones.

Smaradhana, sung by Chrisye is the original version with a solemn and gloomy style. Indonesia Public pop music may be more familiar with the cheerful version rhythm of this song from album Sabda Alam created in 1978 (two years later) after GG album. In the last song Sekar Ginotan, act as sweet wrapper with Balinese gamelan sounds pretentious and seemed to convey how GG fall in love with Balinese music.

Time goes by, 35 years have passed. GG is not only to be most frequently mentioned album by writer and music observer in Indonesia, but this art work that used less or even not noticed at all, presently gain more attention, wanted and hunted by music collectors even from abroad! Scarcity factor maybe the reason. At that moments GG only has 5000 copies printed tapes. This album has also been a topic of discussion of progressive rock music fans in Europe, Japan and America. Later, around year of 2006, a German recording company been remastering this album in LP format but still on very limited number of 450 pcs and it is definitely sold out!  What a Phenomenon album!


Noted :
Credit to Mas Wowo Wahono, thank you for completing this “puzzle” review and being the bridge to resources and provide the pictures.