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SimakDialog: Demi Masa

World-fusion quintet simakDialog is back with Album Two, nine compositions released under the title Demi Masa, and once again by way of Moonjune Records, a label deserving of accolades for bringing this talented group and its take on east-meets-west to the international scene. An immersive aesthetic resonates throughout Demi Masa, and the music therein never stoops to mechanical facades nor ceases to exude the warmth that is part and parcel of its Western electric fusion derivations and intrinsically Indonesian distillations.

For devotees of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, the album's indulgence of the instrument borders on the pornographic not a bad thing by any means! Keyboardist Riza Arshad's Rhodes lines soar and pirouette with a natural fire in ways uncommonly seen and heard since guys like Jan Hammer burned things up in the '70s. While the Rhodes is Arshad's specialty, he performs on a Yamaha acoustic grand on the latter half of the album, and coaxes some ethereal timbres from an Oberheim OBX in a few spots. Kudos also go to bassist Adhithya Pratama's subdued if complementary basslines and the angular guitar stylings of one Tohpati. Indeed, the guitarist gets ample room to stretch out, but flexes the most on the bookend epics "Salilana Pertama (Forever Part One)" and "Disapih (Being Away)," the latter boasting a wah-enabled improv. His exquisite acoustic guitar line on "Karuhun (To Elders)" sufficiently cuts up, too. And as on Patahan, the group's rhythmic pulses aren't laid down by a kit drummer but Sundanese percussionist Endang Ramdan, joined here by second percussionist Erlan Suwardana.

On a different note, the micro-trilogy "Trah Lor" (the term means "Northern People") is the most abstract or avant in feel, almost RIO in some aspects. The "Trah Lor" pieces are also the only ones that are short, if continuous, meaning they're under the four-minute mark. An unrelenting staccato acoustic piano vamp, synthetic tendrils that creep forth from the OBX, and guest Mian Tiara's wordless vocalizations ("Prints") elaborate nicely.

Not only does Demi Masa meet and exceed its predecessor, it works expertly enough to suggest that the five musicians that authored it are no less an asset to the hybrid genre they serve than Santana was to Latin and rock and Wendy Carlos was to electronic and classical.


1. Salilana Pertama (Forever, Part 1) 14:01
2. Salilana Kedua (Forever, Part 2) 6:46
3. Tak Jauh Pertama (Not So Far, Part 1) 7:42
4. Tak Jauh Kedua (Not So Far, Part 2) 9:11
5. Trah Lor Laras (Northern People Voices) 2:28
6. Trah Lor Rupa (Northern People Faces) 3:41
7. Trah Lor Tapak (Northern People Prints) 3:46
8. Karuhun (To Elders) 9:06
9. Disapih (Separate Away) 13:16

Total Time 69:59

Added: October 14th 2009
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: MoonJune Records Official Site
Hits: 2637
Language: english

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SimakDialog: Demi Masa
Posted by Ryan Sparks, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-14 19:17:24
My Score:

I love it every once and awhile when I get to experience my own little musical epiphany. Most of the time this arrives in the form of an artist or band that I haven't heard of previously. However all that is forgotten the minute the first notes begin to take me away on a special journey, and almost instantly I can feel the music begin to resonate within me. Such was the case when I had the pleasure of sitting down and spending some quality time with the latest album Demi Masa from the Indonesian fusion ensemble known as Simak Dialog.

Billed as a mix of fusion and progressive rock this brilliant quintet has the ability to transcend both cultural and musical borders with their highly unique and engaging blend of east meets west sensibilities. Boasting the twin propulsion of Endang Ramdan and Erlan Suwardana, two experts at the art of Sudanese kendang drumming, the sound is anything but conventional. When you add the jaw dropping talents of keyboardist Riza Arshad , guitarist Tohpati, and bassist Adhithya Pratama overtop these funky and hypnotic rhythmic thrusts it makes for an extremely potent and electrifying combination. Whether he's rotating between the piano, Fender Rhodes or the warm tones of an Oberheim analog synthesizer, Arshad routinely takes center stage with one dazzling solo after another. Notes pour out in abundance from his Fender Rhoades with such grace like an endless, incandescent stream while Tohpati often counters these elegant moments with jagged guitar lines and wah-wah drenched solos. While the album is made up of nine songs proper, with three compositions making up seven of those nine, the whole thing just feels like one dazzling tone poem as it flows effortlessly from one movement to the next.

Demi Masa is thing of beauty and should be considered essential listening, not only for people who appreciate jazz, fusion and progressive rock, but for anyone who understands and appreciates how music as utterly compelling as this is working to further narrow the cultural gap between the east and the west.

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