simakDialog - The 6th Story

(CD 2013, 59:51, Moonjune Records MJR056)

The tracks:
  1- Stepping In(10:00)
  2- Lain Parantina(9:10)
  3- Harmologic(3:56)
  4- What Would I Say(6:20)
  5- For Once And Never(7:03)
  6- Common League(3:53)
  7- As Far As It Can Be (Jaco)(8:07)
  8- 5, 6(4:35)
  9- Ari(6:51)

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Like most of the recent releases of Moonjune Records, simakDialog hail from Indonesia. It seems as if there's a source of undiscovered musical talent that constantly treating us to high quality music. simakDialog is a collaboration of guitarist Tohpati − who enraptured me with the amazing solo album Riot (2012, see review) − and pianist, keyboardist and soundscape specialist Riza Arshad. These two musicians are adequately supported by bassist Adhitya Pratama and no less than three percussionists, each with a different style. Endang Ramdan and Erlan Suwardana play Sundanese kendang percussion and are positioned on each side of your stereo system; the metal percussion is played by Cucu Kurnia.

The 6th Story is the follow-up for Demi Masa (2009). It closes the gap between a western style of jazz-rock and improvised music and the more traditional percussive Indonesian music. The music is influenced by bands like Return To Forever, The Zawinul Syndicate and, while listening attentively, I even heard touches of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. The compositions are very varied. A song like What Would I Say has been strongly influenced by the Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman during his membership of Focus, although the keyboards push it towards an early jazz-rock style. As a contrast Ari is completely based on melodic piano together with adventurous percussion, which can be seen as an ultimate effort to build a bridge between eastern and western jazz-rock.

For Once And Never is a song that really stands out in my opinion. It highlights all the individual band members. The guitar sounds very accessible for western people and the bass is quite impressive. It proves that Pratama isn't just an ordinary bass player, but a true virtuoso. The melodies played on the keyboard and an occasional piano sound are very inventive. However, the song that impressed me most is opener Stepping In, a powerful piece in which everything can be heard what simakDialog stand for. Improvised parts are played over a strong basis of bass and percussion; the guitarist and the keyboardist excel both in more than one aspect. Personally I would have positioned this piece halfway the album.

simakDialog have recorded an album, which blends western jazz-rock and improvised native music into a perfect consistent style. Compared to the recently released album Chapter One by I Know You Well Miss Clara (2013, see review) this music is a bit more difficult and contains some more improvisations, but when you have a weakness for the aforementioned bands this album is an obligated purchase. The music of simakDialog will suit open-minded people who like the early seventies jazz-rock.

**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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