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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tohpati Bertiga - Faces

Tohpati is and will always be; a very, very busy man. With his time as a solo artist, Ethnomission, Bertiga, and SimakDialog. There is not a single stop sign for him. For me, I’ve always wanted to see what he will do next. Now, it’s been five years since we’ve heard from Bertiga since the release of the 2012 release, Riot. This year they have unleashed their new album entitled, Faces. This is an Indonesian-release only on the label, deMajors. And it’s a welcoming return for the three piece to come back with more music.

The album is dedicated to the late great keyboardist Riza Arshad from SimakDialog. For me, this is Tohpati honoring his best friend and keeping both his legacy and spirit alive by making sure the fires will never burn out. Tohpati, Bassist Indro Jarjodikoro, and Drummer Aditiyo Wibowo (Bowie), have a diverse sound on here. And the five enduring centerpieces show that they still got it and keep the sounds between Funk, Jazz, Blues, and the Progressive elements thrown into the blender and mixing it into an interesting groove.

The opening track, Conviction sees Tohpati channel his riffs and leads into the waters of a Zappa-sque sound before he transforms his guitar as a synthesizer as he makes it sound to pay tribute to the ‘70s Italian Progressive Rock sound of Banco’s first two albums and Morgan’s Nova Solis-era. The style of the piece has this Gershwin suite almost in the midsection as if the trio are channeling Rhapsody in Blue with a twist before ending with the Zappa groove.

With Bluesphoria, you can imagine Tohpati going down the Texas highway for a boogie complex blues rock with him on top of ZZ Top’s Eliminator car through the night sky honoring the Tres Hombres-era by going into the riff of La Grange in a shuffling tone with a bit of Zeppelin to the cooking pot. The first 45 seconds of Extraordinary begins with an ambient introduction before he goes into a virtuosic complex melody.

Classical and Jazz alike with a slight touch of Fusion, he and Indro’s bass do a friendly duel as if they are playing both the riff and channeling each other on who has some killer grooves while Absolute sees Tohpati going into some twists and turns between a cross-over with Primus and The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame. Indro does some incredible yet brief slap-and-pop bass sounds as if he’s mastering the legendary Bootsy Collins for brief moment in the Funk section as if he brought Indro into the Mothership for an out of sight galaxy adventure.

The closer, Intense features this latin-groove introduction with the early ‘90s sound of Rush between Presto and Counterparts-era. Tohpati himself near the end of the piece honors both Alex Lifeson and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing before ending on a high note.

I’ve listened to this about five times now and it shows the amazement of listening to Faces. This shows that not only they’re back, but they haven’t forgotten the flaming fires to keep it going. And with the honor of Riza’s legacy, they got it right and another worth checking out if you love the Riot album or either Ethnomission or SimakDialog. 

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