Guruh Gipsy is an Indonesian band from the mid-1970s who fused American and European progressive rock with traditional Balinese and Javanese music.
Guruh Gipsy is basically a collaborative effort between Guruh Soekarno Putra – the fifth child of Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno – and Gipsy. Guruh was born in Jakarta, 13 January 1953 and since his childhood her mother (Fatmawati) reckoned that he had strong passion for art and strong sense of accomplishment. Unlike his sister, Megawati, whom later became Indonesia’s President, he pursued his dreams in art including music and choreography. He later established his own dance and music group called “Swaramaharddika” which was very famous in the 70s and 80s.
While Gipsy was basically a music group which its members are Nasution brothers: Gaury, Keenan, Odink, and Deby. It was previously established in 1966 under the name of Sabda Nada with members: Ponco Sutowo, Gaury Nasution, Joe-Am, Eddy, Edit, Roland and Keenan Nasution. They were very familiar with Balinese music and they ever did a gig at Bank Indonesia combining western with Balinese music with gamelan group led by Wayan Suparta Wijaya. In 1969 the band renamed themselves as Gipsy and the new line-up was established: Onan, Chrisye, Gaury, Tammy, dan Atut Harahap. They did cover for 70s groups like Procol Harum, King Crimson, ELP, Genesis and Blood, Sweat & Tears. In 1971 the line-up changed again: Keenan, Chrisye, Gaury, Rully Djohan, Aji Bandi, and Lulu. With this line-up the band played a gig in New York, USA.
This collaborative effort called GURUH – GIPSY was made possible due to Guruh strong passion for combining ethnic music of Bali based on pentatonic notes and western music which is based on diatonic notes. The effort took such a long time as it required sixteen (16) months of recording time. The elapsed time was used by Guruh for various complex activities, i.e. financing the project, scheduling with the only studio available at that time with 16-track system (Tri Angkasa), composing the music with Keenan Nasution (drums), Odink Nasution (guitar), Abadi Soesman (keyboards), Roni Harahap (piano/organ), and Chrisye (vocal). Actually, total studio days was 52 days.
The recording session was started in July 1975 and finished in November 1976. The long duration and difficulties faced during recording were due to many personnel involved during the session. It was not just Gipsy band members but it included violin players (Suryati Sumpilin, Suseno, and Fauzan), cello players (Sudarmadi Bambang Purwadi), contra bass (Amin Katamsi), flute (Suparlan), clarinet /hobo (Yudianto), and a group of Bali musicians. In addition to these there were backing vocals: Rugun and Bornok Hutauruk.
Music arrangement combining western music and Bali traditional gamelan required tight precision as the two had different spectrum in terms of notes and chords. For this purpose, Guruh spent a lot of time outside the studio to learn the subtleties of western music as well as Bali traditional music. He strived to find the best harmony that blended symphonic progressive rock with Bali tradional gamelan music.
His efforts paid off because the result was a brilliant album that was totally splendid!! It’s masterpiece of symphonic progressive rock album with experimental music.