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(42:53, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rahwana 7:47 2. Spirit Of Java 5:21 3. Tribal Dance 7:00 4. Red Mask 5:12 5. Savana 1:56 6. Run 4:26 7. Supernatural 6:42 8. Midnight Rain 4:29 LINEUP: Tohpati Ario Hutomo – guitars Chad Wackerman – drums Jimmy Haslip – bass With: Pak Kompyang – vocals Iwan Wiradz – vocals
Prolusion. Indonesian guitarist and composer TOHPATI is arguably best know for being a member of the Indonesian band SimakDialog for the last 20 or so years, but in the last few years he has also invested time into various side projects, and has also found the time to embark on a few purebred solo production runs. "Tribal Dance" is the most recent of his solo albums, and was released through Moonjune Records in the fall of 2014.
Analysis. I can't truly say that I know too much about the music scene in Indonesia, but of the other home grown artists there in other genres of music hold the same quality as the jazz rock and fusion artists I've been introduced to from this part of the world there's a need for the world to be introduced to them. Tohpati, like the other artists I know about from that location, has his primary focus on jazz rock and fusion, perhaps with a slight emphasis on rock over jazz for this particular production. In addition I'll say that he has a charming manner in which to add a certain local, cultural vibe to the material on this disc. The songs all open with a brief folk music interlude. Or perhaps one might describe this as standalone sequences in front of the composition. Anyhow, those with an interest in folk and world music are left with these musical fragments to cater for that aspect of the music explored here. As some sort of a tribal dance in between compositions of a more defined western oriented overall expression. Some vocal details on one song aside, these are all-instrumental excursions of the kind that resides in the heartland of jazz rock, perhaps with a slight emphasis on rock as previously mentioned. Tohpati's guitar skills dominate, and from what I can tell he's got an impressive technique, with plenty of guitar solo runs that flow with an ease many can envy him. Both movements with more of a scale run aspect to them as well as when he ventures out on a more freely flowing, melody based run. Both aspects are explored rather thoroughly, and with an impressively tight backing by a stellar quality rhythm section. There's also plenty of room here for intermissions of a more careful and deliberate nature, and Tohpati isn't afraid to toss in some meatier riffs at times either. The main, recurring riff section of a composition such as Run is impressive in its relative simplicity, as far as details of a fairly magical nature are concerned that one earns the gold medal on this album as far as I'm concerned, although the composition doesn't quite manage to maintain that drive and momentum throughout. Perhaps the most surprising details are found on title track and Tribal Dance to some extent, and also a bit more so on the following Red Mask. Both of the compositions feature finely controlled impact riffs in staccato sequences and some nifty gentle guitar details that both, at least to my ears, sound rather eerily similar to the guitar sound used by Rush' guitarist Alex Lifeson. If this is accidental or planned I can't tell, as both may be the case, but it was a pleasant surprise to hear just how well that particular sound came across when used in a fusion context. Besides that I'll highlight the subtly darker sounding Supernatural as a creation that stands out due to a slight emphasis on a darker overall sound and mood, and that the gentler, atmospheric pieces Savana and Midnight Rain are both worthwhile and interesting compositions with quite a lot of nerve and tension despite being affairs of a more careful and delicate nature.
Conclusion. Guitar dominated and guitar driven instrumental jazz rock is the chosen turf for Tohpati, and his take on it is fairly energetic at heart, and of the kind that will intrigue those with an interest in technically skilled guitarists who showcase those abilities within defined frameworks. We have passages and sequences of a more technical oriented nature, but never as the sole dominant aspect of a composition, they are always explored within a broader context. As far as such ventures go this one is a high quality affair, and one easily recommended to fans of instrumental jazz rock and fusion, especially to those with a soft spot for high quality guitar oriented escapades of that kind.
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