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(111:33 2CD, Moonjune Records)
Prolusion. The Indonesian band SIMAKDIALOG has been a going entity for more than 20 years, and ever since 1995 they have steadily released new music. A grand total of five studio productions and 2 live albums carry their name so far, and the most recent of these is the double feature "Live at Orion", released through Moonjune Records in early 2015.
TRACKLIST: 1. Throwing Words 12:07 2. Stepping Inn 12:40 3. For Once and Never 8:37 4. One Has to Be 13:05 5. Lain Parantina 12:20 LINEUP: Tohpati – guitars Riza Arshad – el. piano Rudy Zulkarnaen – bass Cucu Kurnia – percussion Endang Ramdan – percussion Erlan Suwardana – percussion With: Beledo – guitars
Analysis. Moonjune Records is known for releasing music of the kind that more often than not can be placed somewhere inside a jazz rock/fusion context, and they have a reputation for uncovering artists in locations that, for many, are fairly exotic to boot. SimakDialog has been on its books for some years by now, and at this stage this is a well known, if not to say renowned, combo. Which presumably was a key reason for why they toured the US in 2013, the final show of that tour being at the legendary Orion venue. This double album covers that concert in its entirety, from what I understand. SimakDialog's specific style is one, I guess, you could describe as instrumental jazz fusion, and one with a strong world music vibe to boot. The latter aspect mainly due to the three percussionists in the band, two of which play the Sundanese Kendang, and one playing what is described as assorted metal percussion. The use of that threesome in place of a regular drummer gives this band's music a rather unique sound and atmosphere. But even so, the music here is dominated by other instruments. Just about everything this band produces revolves around the talents of keyboardist Riza Arshad and guitarist Tohpati, all compositions dominated by the interplay between these two instrumentalists, Arshad's delicate Fender Rhodes piano and Tohpati's flowing electric guitar combining to produce beautiful, elegantly flowing landscapes, where the percussives add an exotic flavor, and bassist Zulukarnaen caters for momentum and emphasizes the rhythms quite nicely. On this live performance, the opening hours revolve around fairly tightly performed material, the first four creations starting out as gentle, flowing affairs, where careful sequences of Fender Rhodes and guitar-driven passages alternate in having the lead function, occasionally combining, and with a subtle development towards an edgier, firmer end phase. The final cut on the first of the CDs sees the band exploring a more vibrant, hard-edged sound, culminating in a sequence of a more gentle nature.
TRACKLIST: 1. This Spirit 18:02 2. Kemarau 11:02 3. Disapih 12:09 4. 5,6 11:31
Analysis. The second disc opens with two performances of a more loosely defined nature, revolving around certain set key elements, but with a more expressive overall nature, featuring sequences of a more improvisational general nature in between the key themes and motifs, up to and including a more liberal use of adventurous instrumental performances. Third track Disapih comes across as a creation book-ended by such looser defined sequences, with more firmly defined performances in between these opening and concluding sequences, while concluding track 5,6 returns us to a more honed in, focused and tight performance, and one with more of an edge and bite at that, prior to giving way to an elongated percussion solo, the additional instruments then assembling for a nicely flowing, relatively brief end sequence. From what I can tell, this is a brilliantly performed concert too, all instrumentalists delivering careful, ethereal motifs and more vibrant, expressive ones with the same ease, combining and moving apart again with a grace and elegance many can envy them, and always maintaining a good and strong flow and tension. Elegant is probably the key word here, and gracefully at that.
Conclusion. A tight and elegant harmonic performance is what SimakDialog delivers on their live album "Live at Orion", with a good balance between tightly controlled performances and material that has room for a more loose and expressive delivery. All instrumentalists are in good form, and the recording quality doesn't leave anything to be desired either. A strong live double feature, one that should be of interest to existing fans first and foremost, I guess, and apart from them I'd estimate that those who find music described as instrumental jazz rock or fusion with a distinct world music touch to it to be of interest should find this double CD to be a rewarding listen.
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