simakDialog, Live At Orion, 2015

simakDialog - live at orionTo my knowledge one of the first double disc sets on the MoonJune Records label, and recorded live in 2013, during a string of concerts in the USA. As you may remember from my previous post on the band, simakDialog is centered round the keyboard playing of Riza Arshad and the guitars of maestro Tohpati, with Rudy Zalkarnaen on bass and Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia on (Sundanese kendang) percussion.

Anyone familiar with the names, the band and or the label will have a fairly good clue as to what to expect from this release. Fusion, progressive jazz, call it what you like. This is instrumental music where Fender Rhodes and guitar take centre stage, leading or following each other, and playing on the solid foundation provided by percussion and bass. Giving it a bit of old Santana feel at times.
Not music that is light on the ears, but again, people into the label and their roster of artists already know and expect that. The musicianshop is as always of the highest calibre and I find it pleasant that at least for some part these songs have recognisable themes and melodies.

Maybe not for everyone, but certainly very musical and technically impressive.

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simakDialog, The 6th Story, 2013

simakdialog - the 6th storyWelcome to another MoonJune release and welcome to yet another Indonesian outfit in the instrumental jaxx rock vein. The band formed in Jakarta in 1993 and is the brainchild of keyboard player Riza Arshad. On board is also guitar player Tohpati, who has been featured here before. The inside of the 6 page digipack tells a lot of how this 6th album by the band came about. And listening to the final result it is not hard to fathom why they describe this as a very involved process, melting  Indonesian elements (mainly traditional percussion) with more Western flavoured parts.

All that results in an album that, at least for a part, takes time to digest. Opener Stepping In for instance seems a true free jazz build on first listening.  All musicians are carried on the groove laid down by bass and percussion, but it is hard to distinguish a thread in the song. Second track, while being almost just as long as the first (9 instead of 10 minutes), has a much more melodic sense to it. Guitars and keyboards work together in delivering that, and that makes it a much more enjoyable affair to my ears. This ambiguity can be found throughout. But repeated play creates more comfort as I am sure you can imagine. No doubt that all players are seasoned musicians, so their listeners need to be seasoned as well. If you hang in there, a lot is actually quite beautiful!

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