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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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MoonJune MJR 015



1. One Has to Be
2. Spur of the Moment
3. Kemarau
4. Worthseeing
5. Kain Sigli
Riza Arshad - Piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesiser
Tohpati Ario Hutomo - Electric, synth and acoustic guitars
Adhitya Pratama - Electric fretless bass
Endang Ramdan - Sunda kendang, toys
Emy Tata - Makassar kendang, ceng-ceng, kethuk, vocals, poetry reading
Nyak Ina Raseuki "Ubiet" - Vocals (tracks 2, 5)
Marla Stukenberg - Poetry reading (track 5)

The personnel and their instruments suggest a very exotic album and, indeed, simakDialog is an Indonesian group whose name apparently means "to listen carefully to the dialogue". However, the opening track is hardly exotic, sounding as it does remarkably reminiscent of the classic Pat Metheny Quartet. Guitar and piano shadow one another very much in the style of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, producing a similarly fluid, translucent sound. There is some "exotic" percussion in the background but very far back in the mix. The other surprise is that this is a concert recording but there is very little sign of audience appreciation except for some mostly restrained applause.

The Metheny resemblance continues into the second track - Spur of the Moment - with the wordless vocals of Nyak Ina Raseuki "Ubiet", although the hand drums are more prominent, even getting their own solo spot. The guitarist is admittedly often edgier than Pat Metheny, and the pianist is less lyrical than Lyle Mays (the rhythm sometimes falters during the piano solo). The "ethnic" element becomes more pronounced in Kemarau - a more discordant piece with an ominous mix of anarchic sounds: thudding drums, screeching guitar and meandering piano. This track is not easy to like.

Worthseeing is more accessible because more melodic, with a grandstanding guitar solo (more rock than jazz - nearer Jimmy Page than Pat Metheny), followed by a gentler piano solo. The final track, Kain Sigli, opens with verses in German and Bahasa overlapping one another (why?). Nyak's vocals float effortlessly over an attractive melody, leading into about 20 minutes of changing, often puzzling, music. All in all, this album is alternately intriguing and infuriating. The "western" elements make it easy to appreciate but the apparent chaos of other sections may leave the listener wondering what this group is aiming at. As a mix of jazz and world music, it is interesting but only partially successful.

Tony Augarde





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