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SimakDialog - 2013 - "The 6th Story"

(59:07, Moonjune Records)


1.  Stepping In 10:01
2.  Lain Parantina 9:06
3.  Harmologic 3:52
4.  What Would I Say 6:17
5.  For Once and Never 6:29
6.  Common League 3:53
7.  As Far As It Can Be 7:58
8.  5,6 4:38
9.  Ari 6:53


Riza Arshad - pianos, synth, soundscapes
Tohpati  guitars 
Adhithya Pratama  bass   
Cucu Kurnia  percussion 
Endang Ramdan  percussion 
Erlan Suwardana  percussion 

Prolusion. The Indonesian band SIMAKDIALOG has to be described as a veteran band at this point I guess, with a history stretching back 21 years at the time of writing. They have been releasing albums steadily from 1995 and onwards, and their most recent production is "The 6th Story". As the title indicates, this is their sixth album; it was issued through Moonjune Records in 2013.

Analysis. Moonjune Records main man, Leonardo Pavkovic, appears to have a soft spot for artists residing on parts of the planet that is distinctly non-anglosaxon in nature, at least the greater majority of albums I have been sent by his label so far are by artists that either originate or live a fair distance away from the UK and USA. Indonesia appears to have been a fertile hunting ground for this dedicated label man, and unless my memory misfires extensively, SimakDialog was his first band from this country. Rather unsurprisingly for most, jazz rock is the type of music explored by this unit an instrumental variety of it. What sets this band apart from many others, at least on some of their albums, is that they don't employ a regular drummer, instead opting for two percussionists using traditional Sundanese kendangs. Which, I guess, can superficially be described as a dual sided hand drum. On their most recent album a third percussionist has been added to the fold as well, credited with the use of assorted metal percussion. This obviously affects the music, as regular drum patterns are replaced by fairly extensive, elaborate percussion patterns when this band perform their music. Which obviously gives their sound a distinct identity, an identity mark that isn't that far removed from jazz and jazz rock artists from Latin countries, who utilize percussion extensively, but obviously, there is a difference. Even if SimakDialog in their most passionate moments do make me recall Al DiMeola's classic late 70's releases, at least to some extent. But this band, at least on this album, isn't at all about passionate, fiery escapades, nor do they focus on technical flamboyance. Soft, fairly smooth compositions are the order of the day here, with Fender Rhodes and guitars alternating for the solo spots and otherwise with elegantly flowing patterns as the instruments alternate in taking the lead, occasionally employing somewhat more dramatic effects, such as staccato transitional phases with impact notes for variety and tension. Most of all, this is about elegant performances though, relaxing performances where subtle nuances and gentle reverbs are in focus. Fleeting instances of rougher edged, noise-flavored synth sounds may make an appearance, and on a composition like 5,6 Tohpati's guitar is given more of a free reign to explore a wilder, untamed sound. All of these are exceptions however; the greater majority of the material can safely be summarized as smooth, elegant instrumental jazz rock. Concluding piece Ari may arguably be closer to piano based jazz actually, and does sport a sequence with curiously odd toned synth soloing a bit in, but again an exception and in this case one in style rather than arrangements and performance as such.

Conclusion. Harmonic melodies in smooth, soft and elegant arrangements planned and executed by an instrumental jazz rock band should summarize SimakDialog's fifth studio album and sixth release "The 6th Story" quite nicely. A production that should appeal to those who enjoy instrumental jazz rock of the elegant kind, without many rough edges, but with extensive and fairly elaborate percussion as a key ingredient.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 15, 2014
The Rating Room

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