Virtuoso Guitarist, Tohpati, has been a very busy man with his projects including Tohpati Bertiga and Tohpati Ethnomission in the Indonesian Jazz Rock scene and one of the bands that he was in a group called Simakdialog that was launched 20 years ago by keyboardist Riza Arshad in Jarkata. While Indonesia carries the touches of Art and Music, this band really can take the sounds of Jazz Rock up a level with middle-eastern beats, classical, and percussion beats to really get you up off the chair and dance to the rhythm.
In the group which is a five-piece band featuring alongside Riza Arshad and Tohpati, features Adhithya Pramtama on Bass and percussionists Endang Ramdan and Erlan Suwardana. These two albums including the live album Patahan from MoonJune Records and their fifth album, Demi Masa as well, can really come in handy in a big way and you can tell there is some magic and wonder from a five piece that can take you on an amazing adventure you never dreamed of.
The performance was recorded at Goethe Haus in 2006 and from this live recording, you could tell that the audience themselves were in awe and almost have their jaws-dropped from the moment Riza plays the first few notes on the Piano and knowing that this was an experience they’ll never forget. It’s relaxing and the soothing introduction pieces on One Has to Be and Spur of the Moment, which has this resemblance of the smoky jazz clubs in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s as Riza pays tribute to McCoy Tyner as if the group were paying tribute to John Coltrane and Vince Guaraldi in which he does to capture the essence of the sound as if they were writing a sequel to A Love Supreme.
Then, all of a sudden, everything starts to change with the Avant-Garde experimental thumping touches that has a floating atmosphere on Kemarau, featuring some dramatic percussion work before the band go into this Rock In Opposition homage in the midsection with computers going haywire to set up the dystopian universe for the climax while Worthseeing gives the band a chance to do whatever they want and be creative with their instruments as the audience could tell, who were very quiet were in awe from Bebop, ‘70s Rock, and African-Tribe movements filling up the hall.
Then comes the closer, Kain Sigli, which starts off as a poetry reading in German and Indonesian translation as Nyak Ina Raesuki comes in with her vocalization and just gives it all she got as the band follows her voice in this Ambient Bossa-Nova turned Flamenco adventure as she goes high in the melody as it becomes this energetic moment between the members and Nyak for this difficult time changing movement that becomes the highlight of the show to close off with a bang.
Demi Mosa, released in 2009, takes the Jazz Fusion level up a notch and the people from MoonJune Records, do they know Jazz and Prog Rock music very well for the 21st century. This feels like it was recorded in the 1970s and the music seems to carry the torch very well with a lot of the structures for the group to understand the meaning of the influence and it’s something to take note of.
The touches of Fender Rhodes Piano is really just completely out there for Riza to pay tribute to Herbie Hancock, Keith Tippett, Mike Ratledge, and Jan Hammer as he takes the Rhodes for a wonderful road trip into the Indonesian countryside which is evidential on Salilana Pertama (Foerver Part One) and he just goes for it as the band are smiling and knowing they have done their job to give Riza a moment to shine including a duet between him and Tohpati on the lukewarm touches on Tak Jauh Pertama (Not So Far, Part One) before it becomes a percussion thunderstorm.
Elsewhere, the trilogy to Trah Lor (Northern People) is one of the most experimental pieces that they’ve done on Demi Masa. It goes through this Acoustic Guitar and Jazzy Piano lines that makes it like a concerto featuring a swooping synth setting up the scenery (Voices) before it becomes this avant-ambient keyboard movement with a MIDI-like vocal work and then percussion and piano do a freak-out session as it becomes an homage to the Flying Teapot sessions of Gong to close the trilogy off in a Spacey swoosh (Faces and Prints)
The closer Disapih (Separate Away), is Tohpati’s fast and slow meets stop-and-go time signature for his guitar to have a bit of Fun in the style of John McLaughlin turned into another futuristic rock finale to give it the final voyages to boldly go where he's never gone before. Simakdialog are for me, one of the most heart stopping groups to come out of Indonesia. And after hearing these two albums, I’ve began to realize that my heart has finally been opening up the door of hearing world music doing these genres and I hope they are doing another album sometime in the future and let's see what the future will hold for MoonJune Records. I can't wait to see what they will have up their sleeves for 2013