SIMAK DIALOG
World Fusion • Indonesia

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Keyboardist/composer Riza Arshad formed simakDialog in 1993. Living in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, this band couldn’t avoid being influenced by the traditional sound of the gamelan ensemble. As one of the culturally richest and diversified countries in the world, Indonesia treasures a vast variety of art and musical forms that have been a global inspiration. Along with his long time member in the band – guitarist Tohpati they develop certain color of their music to be part of world musical scene.

from http://simakdialog.com
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SIMAK DIALOG Discography

SIMAK DIALOG albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Lukisan
World Fusion 1995
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Baur
World Fusion 1999
.. Album Cover 4.05 | 2 ratings
Trance/ Mission
World Fusion 2002
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Demi Masa
World Fusion 2009
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
The 6th Story
World Fusion 2013

SIMAK DIALOG EPs & splits

SIMAK DIALOG live albums

.. Album Cover 3.86 | 2 ratings
Patahan
World Fusion 2007
.. Album Cover 4.03 | 3 ratings
Live at Orion
World Fusion 2015

SIMAK DIALOG demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

SIMAK DIALOG re-issues & compilations

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SIMAK DIALOG movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

SIMAK DIALOG Reviews

SIMAK DIALOG Live at Orion

Live album · 2015 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland


Recorded live on September 7, 2013, at The Orion, Baltimore, MD, this was to be the final release for simakDialog. Looking back to their previous live album from 2005, Ravid, Tohpati and Endang were still there, with bassist Rudy Zulkarnaen and additional percussionists in Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia. This release is a double CD, and again none of the songs are less than eleven minutes in length, and the band are determined to stretch their wings. “Throwing Words” is very different in the live environment to when it was released some ten plus years earlier, with Tohpati demanding centre stage and taking firm control. The band had been together for twenty years by this point, and the way that Tohpati and Ravid swap roles and bounce off each other in superb.

Here is a band where everyone is a master of their instrument and knows exactly where each of them needs to be musically, but the coming together of Western and Indonesian styles and sounds allows them to sound both incredibly tight and loose at the same time. Just listen to the combined runs of Tohpati and Ravid at the beginning of “Stepping In” to see what I mean, as while they are hitting each note in perfect unison at great speed, the percussionists are creating a sound storm beneath them. This album is a perfect introduction to a great band, who never really gained the kudos they deserved outside their native country. Discover this, and then go back and listen to their other releases to see why I am such a fan.

SIMAK DIALOG Patahan

Live album · 2007 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland


‘Patahan’ was their first live album, released in 2005, and there had been quite a change in line-up between this and the last studio album, ‘Trance/Mission’, with just Ravid and Tohpati plus percussionist Endang Ramdan still involved. When one first starts playing this it is hard to realise that this is a “live” album as the audience is so quiet, and there is no introduction or announcement, but straight into “One Has To Be”, which is a piano tour-de-force. This is all about Ravid, a maestro in total control of his instrument, with the rest of the guys happy to provide the gentle percussive background which is all that is needed. When Tohpati finally takes centre stage, it is restrained, almost as if he is having to pull the notes up from great depth, showing great control and sustain, Hackett combining with McLaughlin.

There are just five songs on the album, but with the shortest at eleven and the longest at nearly twenty there is plenty here to enjoy. It isn’t always gentle and reflective, and there are times when the band feels far more menacing, such as on “Kemarau”, where the riffs give way to repeated piano motifs while the percussionists build the scene ready for Tohpati to take it to another level. We’ve gone from the delight of bands such as Santana into something that could almost be from ‘The Exorcist’, albeit with a tribal background. Here is a band made up of consummate musicians, working together to produce something that is very special indeed. Fusion in it its truest sense, this is indispensable.

SIMAK DIALOG Trance/ Mission

Album · 2002 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland


Formed in 1993, simakDIALOG were an Indonesian fusion band who released their first album as along ago as 1995, with ‘Trance/Mission’ being their third in 2002. Throughout their career their music centred around the soloing and fluidity of the keyboard player Ravid Arshad and guitarist Tohpati, combined with local Gamelan music to create something that was incredibly accessible to Western ears, yet also stayed very true to their roots. The fluidity and melody of Ravid and Tohpati is incredible, relying far more on intricate runs than the use of chords, with each both being prepared to take the lead, duet with the other, or even take a total break from the music altogether. It isn’t unusual to find one of them totally absent for long periods of time, just to give the other more space to move and breathe. Tohpati always makes me think of John McLaughlin, and strangely so does Ravid although he is playing keyboards, which is probably why they work so well together.

Ravid uses an electric organ to great effect on this album, with my favourite number probably “Throwing Words” where Tohpati lets Ravid get on with it, until he comes back with a slightly distorted guitar which is totally at odds with what has been going on before, really shifting the timbre and style of music. Indro Hardjodikoro has a delicate touch on the bass, providing warmth and filling the gaps between the melody makers and the percussion. There are three guys playing a variety of Indonesian instruments that provide an authenticity and realism to the music, a total fusion not just of jazz and rock, but world music and the west.

SIMAK DIALOG Live at Orion

Live album · 2015 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
The once easily maligned and watered down genre known as jazz fusion has been making quite a comeback in the new century, due in large part to an infusion of fresh new talent from around the globe who bring the music of their culture to the mix. You could hardly call Simak Dialog new, as they have been recording for almost twenty years, but since their addition to the MoonJune roster of artists, they have been reaching a far wider international audience that may see them as a relatively new band on the scene. There are so many great fusion bands coming from Indonesia these days, some carry a stronger influence of their culture than others, but few show such a strong element of classic Indonesian Gamelan as Simak Dialog. “Live at Orion” is the latest live offering from Dialog, and it shows them playing many songs from their recently released “6th Story” , as well some cuts from older albums, and a couple tracks that have not shown up on any of their previous releases.

Long time fans of Dialog will know what to expect here, a mix of Gamelan rhythms and structures fused with a late 60s style of raw jazz rock that often veers into psychedelic and avant-garde sound layers. The backbone of the Dialog sound is the tuned drums and metallophones of the Indonesian Gamelan, to this they add Riza Arshad on Fender Rhodes, Tohpati on electric guitar and Rudy Zulkarnen on bass. All the instruments blend perfectly; the Fender Rhodes is basically an amplified metallophone in itself, and Tohpati is apt to run his guitar through a ring modulator which gives it a clangorous percussive metallic effect, much like the Gamelan instruments and the Rhodes. This combination of instruments can sound like a modern mini gamelan orchestra, a tuned percussion ensemble playing John Cage’s prepared piano pieces, or Stockhausen’s experiments with ring modulated sounds. In between these more avant-garde ambitions, Dialog is apt to hit a steady groove and let Tohpati play a fret burning guitar solo.

The music on here is excellent, far more creative and original than many of their fusion peers, but unfortunately all of this great music is somewhat marred by a rather lackluster sound. Simak Dialog’s music is raw and earthy, so I wouldn’t expect, or even want a real polished sound, but there is something lacking here, a certain high end and sharp definition. It almost sounds like the concert was picked up on one or two room mics, rather than individual instrument microphones or line-ins. Its not a huge problem, as every instrument is nice and clear, but music this good deserves a better sound.

SIMAK DIALOG The 6th Story

Album · 2013 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland
SimakDialog, have been displaying their wares for twenty years, having been formed in Jakarta in 1993 by keyboard player and composer Riza Arshad. Since then the band have been bringing together many musical influences in a style that can truly be described as fusion, with classic jazz, psychedelia, world music and Indonesian influences all coming together in a musical form that is uniquely their own. At Riza’s right hand is guitarist Tohpati, a band leader in his own right, and the two of them take the main melodic leads, sometimes sharing and at others just happily giving way to the others. But, while they are at the forefront of the sound, there is a great deal happening underneath the lead melody that makes the band what they are. Huge kudos must be given to bassist Adhithya Pratama as he provides warm support to what is happening, either by playing just the odd single not or complementing the melody with some complex runs of his own. But his main role is that of the bridge between the melody and the percussion, which gives simakDialog such a unique sound.

The band has not one or two percusionnist, but three, Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana, and newest member, Cucu Kurnia, who combine together to provide complex rhythms and sounds that lift the melodies and structures of Riza and Tohpati to new heights. The more one plays this album, the more one realises just how important they are to the overall structure and arrangement, and while Riza’s Fender Rhodes electric piano does sound strangely dated, it also fits in perfectly with what these guys are creating. This is music that somehow is incredibly immediate and welcoming, while at the same time being complex and heavily layered. I would love to see these guys play live as there is a real feeling of togetherness and ideas being bounced from each other, while at the same time there is a rigidity as they move along the piece, freedom within framework.

There are some great bands coming out of Indonesia, and simakDialog are one of the best of these. Yet again this is a wonderfully solid and enjoyable album, and one that can be recommended wholeheartedly. www.moonjune.com

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