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