Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SimakDialog, Live at Orion, Two-CD Set

The remarkable Indonesian fusion group SimakDialog have been mixing it up for a while with a number of increasingly developed albums on MoonJune records. They return in a big way with a 2-CD set recorded in a Baltimore, MD venue, Live at Orion (MoonJune 068).

It is a treat to listen to the well-recorded date, with all the advantages a live gig can have--the ability to stretch out, take more chances, improvise at greater length, be energized by a sympathetic audience, and such. That is very much what happens on this set.

Riza Arshad on electric piano, Tohpati on electric guitar, Rudy Zulkarnaen on bass guitar, and the traditional Indonesian hand percussion threesome of Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia, and special guest Beledo on electric guitar for the final piece--all make this a special occasion.

The percussion triumvirate gives the music drive yet also leaves an audio opening for the electric instruments that gives them their own aural pocket. In a live setting the doings of keys, guitar and bass are all the more out front. Their interplay and that of the percussion section gives off a special dynamic clarity.

The pieces are expanded versions of previously recorded numbers and perhaps a couple of new ones as well. Their Indonesian-fusion mix has never sounded so convincing as here, though previous albums are uniformly terrific.

Both guitarist Tohpati (plus the guest Beledo) and keyboardist Riza Arshad come through with some very impressive soloing in the advanced fusion realm. Guitar enthusiasts will especially appreciate Tohpati, who is on fire here, showing himself as one of the more innovative and accomplished artists out there these days. Riza sounds excellently inventive, too. And the two-guitar jamming on the final cut is something to hear.

This live album is definitely one of their very best. The excitement builds and the energy never flags. Excellent. Primo SimakDialog! Start here if you don't know the band. And you should. In any case this is not to be missed.

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