simakDialog: Patahan

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
simakDialog: Patahan Starting out closer to smooth jazz territory, Indonesian simakDialog ("to listen carefully to The Dialog) has come a long way since 1993 to get to Patahan, its first release to see international distribution. Based on the album's episodic and expansive opener, "One Has to Be, first impressions would suggest this Jakarta-based quintet is mining similar turf as the equally complex-yet-accessible Pat Metheny Group. But with two ethnic percussionists taking the place of kit drums, while the influence is indisputable, simakDialog has more than enough to define its own voice.

Keyboardist/founder Riza Arshad is the sole musical composer on this live album, recorded in the spring of 2005 in Jakarta. Like the Pat Metheny Group but inverted, the primary voices here are Arshad and guitarist Tohpati Ario Hutomo ("Tohpati ) who, armed with a similar arsenal of acoustic, electric and synth guitars, could easily be considered simakDialog's Metheny to Arshad's Lyle Mays. Bassist Adhitya Pratama ("Adhitya ), like Metheny's Steve Rodby, rarely gets the spotlight, but his rich fretless tone anchors this group the same way: he may not dominate, but his absence would be sorely felt.

Rather than looking at how simakDialog resembles the Pat Metheny Group, it's perhaps better to examine how it differs. Tohpati, while capable of clean dexterity, demonstrates considerably more edge—both in his tone and melodic approach. Even his guitar synth tone is grittier. There's a jazz vernacular, but tempered with a rock attitude that makes his solos on the fiery "Spur of the Moment and more brooding "Kemaran highlights of the nearly 75-minute set. Arshad, an impressive pianist, uses his synthesizer sparingly and to great effect, but more for color: like Mays, his dominant voice is the piano. The two percussionists—Endang Ramdan and Emy Tata—provide plenty of forward motion, but with the emphasis on two different sizes of kendang hand drum, it's a more low-end alternative to the Pat Metheny Group's cymbal-driven pulse.

Singer Nyak Ina Raseuki ("Ubiet ) guests on the wordless vocals of "Spur of the Moment and the lyric-driven "Kain Sigli, which also incorporates poetry in both German and Bahasan Indonesion, courtesy of Marla Stukenberg and Tata respectively. It's on this track that the Asian aspect of simakDialog's cross-cultural mélange is at its strongest.

Throughout Patahan, however, the appealing and unequivocally contemporary jazz lyricism of Arshad's writing is informed by an Asian exoticism that, at times, is more linear than changes-based. It's the way that Tohpati and Arshad solo, with a language familiar to American listeners but over bass ostinati and complex, dual percussion-driven rhythms, that makes simakDialog and Patahan, if not technically a debut, a brilliant first salvo to audiences distanced from the Pacific Rim.

Track Listing: One Has to Be; Spur of the Moment; Kemarau; Worthseeing; Kain Sigli.

Personnel: Riza Arshad: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, synth; Tohpati Ario Hutomo: electric, synth and acoustic guitars; Adhitya Pratama: fretless bass; Endang Ramdan: Sunda kendang, toys; Emy Tata: Makassar kendang, ceng-ceng, kethuk, vocals, Bahasa Indonesian poetry reader; Nyak Ina Raseuki

Title: Patahan | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Moonjune Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Stephan Crump's Rhombal" CD/LP/Track Review Stephan Crump's Rhombal
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Negative Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Negative Spaces
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "The Long Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Journey Home
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Beekman Vol. 02" CD/LP/Track Review Beekman Vol. 02
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Transcience" CD/LP/Track Review Transcience
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.