For the follow up album of the 2012 release Riot (see review), Indonesian guitarist Tohpati - just like his fellow landsman and label mate Dewa Budjana - crossed the pacific ocean to record with a widely experienced duo as rhythm section. Where Dewa choose Jimmy Johnson for bass player and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Tohpati had the chance to work with Chad Wackerman on drums and Jimmy Haslip on bass. A rhythm section that has pushed Allan Holdsworth to some stunning performances in the past.
Tohpati as a solo artist follows a different path than the one chosen for his world fusion ensemble simakDialog. Even the new album Tribal Dance, has a different feel than the previous album, which sounded more aggressive and was played with an almost metal edge. This time, the Jeff Beck influences are extended by influences from other major guitarplayers like the afore mentioned Holdsworth, but also Scot Henderson, and the quirky sounds of Oz Noy have entered their way into the compositions. The opener Rahwana, is a perfect sample of these influences. The way the melodies go hand in hand with Noy and Henderson's style of virtuosity, works perfectly with the solid, but typical drumming by Wackerman. A composition that immediately scores the first points for our Indonesian friend. A strong point is the way Tohpati embeds Indonesian music into his jazzy compositions. During Spirit Of Java, these influences are mixed with brilliant funky rhythms on the guitar and fluent soloing. His percussive way of playing perfectly works with Wackerman, who's on fire. The tribal intro of the title track Tribal Dance, leads us to one of the highlights on the album; a wonderful guitar melody is backed up with Haslip's sublime bass, and gently grows to an extended solo, where Indonesian jazz rock meets western fusion. During Red Mask, I get the impression some blues influences have entered the guitarists spectrum. References of Eric Johnson are obvious if you are familiar with the Texan guitar slinger. In the background, what sounds like an organ has joined, but it also might be a guitar synthesizer that's used. Whatever it is, it sounds super in the song. Before the next composition Run, we first have a short interlude called Savanna; a nice soundscape with relaxed guitar playing. So, Run starts - like several compositions - with a sound sample, before a funky rhythm lays down a strong base for nice, melodic, jazzy solos. Haslip enhances the fun with a signature solo. The way Tohpati lays down a rhythmic and funky basement for most of the songs, impresses every time. I guess it must be hard not to be caught by these catching elements. Supernatural has more of a rock feel; powerful playing is combined with fusion soloing. This composition is a very good sample of the way the rhythm section pushes Tophati forward. The final composition Midnight Rain, is a song recorded in Tohpati's homeland and can be seen as a pure solo effort. Here he plays a strong solo in Jeff Beck style.
Tribal Dance is slightly different from Tohpati's previous album; there is more melody and a bit more bluesy jazz. The album shows just one more side of this incredible talented musician, who definitely has proven that he, together with fellow country man Dewa Budjana, can easily compete with the top players of the jazz rock and fusion genre.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
Where to buy?