Adrian Adioetomo plays blues. Indonesian blues, you say? Is that even possible? Well, why not? And yes, Adrian is indeed from Indonesia and yes, he plays blues. And what a blues!!!
I’ve noticed an info about his new album release and got intrigued by the picture of him with the guitar (that’s Jose Riandy’s artwork, it really goes well with the music). Although the curiosity usually kils the cat, I am not afraid to check stuff to see what’s what. And I’m glad I did.
“Burnin’ Blood, Cold-Cold Ground” is the album opener, and it also has a video done. And it was the video (by the way, made from the footage from the old silent western), accompanied by the appealing blues guitar riff (and a great one, in my honest opinion) what has put Adrian’s name into my spotlight.
The grim opener sets the stage, the seemingly disharmonic sounds laid with the precise plan to create the unsettling picture of Adrian’s spiritual world. If this one won’t grab you with the intensity and honesty of his voice, nothing will.
And then – “Everything Gone Wrong”, the lovely marriage of the blues and the ambient (that bass line in work with the drum is – not surprisingly – my fave straight away). Personally, I am not surprised for such a fusion to work, I am just enjoying it. The guitar work is fantastic here and the song itself is even interestingly melodic. Don’t get me wrong, it still breathes of the sinister atmosphere, but in the same time it’s refreshing.
“Underneath The Ground” moves away from the previous blues tracks, bringing more of soul/r’n’b sound into play and while not expected, it creates a delightful pop song. That guitar solo about 2:30 into the song…what can I say, that’s three songs I like so far. Out of three, just for your information.
The versatile nature of this Indonesian bluesman is evident in another song, under the title of “Volatile Love”. The old meets new – the traditional sound of the blues guitar meets the grunge sound. Closing my eyes, I am drifting with the notes played in my ears, riding the long empty highways… that’s the atmosphere. Imagine Adrian playing with Pearl Jam. That’s how the song sounds.
I am still wondering how the hell this album could be done in Indonesia, for example, “I Got Worry”, which is the fifth track on this album, would perfectly fit in the empty roadhouse somewhere in the States. The song itself is a curious combination of various musical elements, one moment it sounds like a modern slow rock, the next a proper blues tune, next again the experimental jazz. It requires the listener’s attention, and that’s why is interesting. One thing is certain, you won’t get that on modern radio.
Nice bass line again, this time it’s “La Pistolera”. This one is so far the most melodic, but – alas – as it’s usually the case, the interesting songs are usually the shortest ones, and this one is no different, as it’s the shortest song on the album.
“In a Ghost Town” – the title says it all. In this ballad Adrian evokes the feeling the loneliness and looking at my wife I am really thankful I don’t have to relate to that feeling anymore. The song’s structure is little weird, to be honest, some notes sound strangely (but then, I am no musician, so what do I know). But the ending of the song (actually the part from about 3:50 on) is one hell of a delight. And Adrian’s voice, with his many colours, is just fitting in here.
However, I liked “Someday, June” a little more, and the reason for it is my love for the sliding guitar sound. And what started as a classic blues tune has morphed into a modern sounding song, still retaining the original feel. Good thing to mention is the clarity of Adrian’s English lyrics, so you can actually hear what he’s singing about. Obviously, that might not be that important fo native English speaking folks, but for us, foreigners, it’s a little different thing.
“I wanna run naked down the main street…” sings Adrian in “I Wanna”, but I’d advise him not to 🙂 Instead let sit down with him and enjoy this energy-filled bluesrock. Yes, this is the track for your cars in the summer, just put the windows down and play that tune, not that usual crap from your radio.
Longing for another ballad? This one is even better! The beginning is like…wait, Bon Jovi? Nah, but really, Adrian’s voice almost imitates Jon Bon Jovi here. But just for a single syllable. Yes, I’m talking about “This Broken Deal”, this is probably the closest to a radio single (although don’t hold your breath to hear it over on you favourite radio station). Sad, but true. Nice, relaxing tune.
“By The Dawn” is here as the track number 11. Slow, atmospheric song, and nice arrangements. It evokes the sadness (at least that’s how I feel listening to it), but I love it. Even with aforementioned arrangements, I bet it sounds great live as well. And nice solo. That has to be mentioned.
If you long for something extra, this album provides an extra too! It’s called “Silver Lining” and Adrian is joined by Samantha Lee Martin on banjo and vocals (and if you do some search on Youtube, then you’ll find this is not their only collaboration). I like her vocals, although Adrian’s is the dominant one here. Hope nobody complains!
It’s called “The Last Song”, but don’t get discouraged, it’s one before the last, actually. And oh, boy, do I like it! It remotely remind me of Norah Jones’ “Tennessee Waltz” (but only because of the song speed, basically) and John Meyer’s “Gravity”, so if you now those, you can imagine the smoothness in your ears. And another image appears in my mind..that of the noir movie’s half-empty bars full of cigarette smoke…it’s a really powerful song! Adrian’s voice is again expressing its full vocal colour pallete and you know what…I’m gonna play it again. Excuse me.
And the really last one. “Restless Hours”. Joined by Bonny Sidharta on bass, the song brings a distorted vocals and interesting arrangements, and again, the sliding guitar tunes I love.
By the way, it wouldn’t be fair not to mention two other musicians helping Adrian with this album. First of these is Amrus Ramadhan (pedal steel on songs “Underneath The Ground”, “Someday, June” and “By The Dawn”) and the other Fajri Navary (harmonica on “Burnin’ Blood, Cold-Cold Ground” and “I Got Worry”).
I will repeat myself – it’s a fantastic album. I am saying it as a guy who’s not into blues at all. Yes, I do listen to an ocassional track here or there, but I have no deep knowledge of it. But the older I am, the more appreciative I am of styles I haven’t listened before.
This album might be a little hard to get, due to the enormous postage rates from Indonesia right now. However, it’s well worth of putting on your list of albums to get once life gets back on tracks (I hope, soon). In my book, it’s a must.