Although they are still not well known internationally, when it comes to guitar heavy jazz-rock trios, Indonesia’s Ligro is about at the top of the game. There is a 5 star album lurking within these guys somewhere, they just haven’t put it altogether yet. Their new “Dictionary 3” finds them improving their sound with a rock solid wall of noise that could probably blow many other similar bands off the stage, but unfortunately, the high level of writing that they achieved on the previous “Dictionary 2” seems to have dropped off a bit.
“Dictionary 3” opens with “Bliker 4”, a very 70s sounding fusion number that features the young pianist phenomena, Ade Irawan. Its an okay number, but it comes across more as an attempt to take advantage of Irawan’s popularity than a true meeting of musical minds. Irawan may not be the best fit with Ligro’s guitar heavy sound, but they manage to pull off an okay fusion jam. The following cut, “Pentagonal Krisis”, opens with avant-ambience centered around traditional Indonesian instruments before the band hits a gamelan influenced groove for guitarist Agam Hamzah to solo over. Gradually the tune slips into full throttle noise rock assaults of a severe, yet very musical nature.
“Tragic Hero” also starts quietly before the band brings the noise again, while “The 20th Century Collaseu” skips any quiet intro and goes full throttle for most of its eleven and a half minutes. Album closer “Lonely Planet” is a bit anti-climatic as it features mostly some space-blues noodling on the guitar. It sounds nice, but it seems like filler compared to what this band is really capable of.
So the change with the band this time around amounts to more experimental avant-garde moments, both quiet and also very loud, and a way more intense and heavy sound when they do decide to go that direction. Despite Hamzah’s dense sound, the versatile rhythm section of bassist Adi Darmawan and drummer Gusti Hendy can play it heavy, or as loose, limber and funky as any jazz fusion outfit. All three band members have serious chops to spare. “Dictionary 3” has many moments where the band shows off their ability to write, arrange and improvise, but there are also some moments that come across as filler. “Dictionary 2”, by comparison, did not seem to have much filler at all. As mentioned earlier, this album is good, but this band can do better. Still, the many good parts on "Dictionary 3" are very, very good. For possible references, think of this album as a blend of Fripp/Bruford jam sessions, Pete Cosey on “Dark Magus”, Fred Frith’s Massacre and Sonny Sharrock with Last Exit, but with a modern metallic sound.