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  Image: CD Cover: MoonJune Records MJR056: simakDialog, The Sixth Story.  
simakDialog MJR056
The 6th Story  
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The Sixth Story is the exhilarating, full-throttle follow-up to 2009's critically-acclaimed Demi Masa (MJR024), from the legendary psychedelic/gamela-jazz/world music phenoms, simakDialog. Raising the benchmark in a genre known for its brilliant artists is no easy feat, but the legendary virtuosos are decidedly up to the task: each composition is an exquisite master-class rendering of equal parts elegance and intrigue. This is modern progressive jazz at its most original, most far-reaching and most achieving.Referencing the discernible influence of a host of the genre's most innovative voices -- from the great Miles Davis, to Return To Forever, to The Zawinul Syndicate, John Abercrombie Quartet, Tribal Tech, and even the late, great Charles Mingus -- the band continues to push the musical envelope: leaping boldly into uncharted territories where progressive music has yet dared venture (and precious few would be brave- or skilled-enough to even consider attempting). Employing formulas that eclipse genre and culture (and any other conventional means of categorization!), Riza Arshad, Tohpati and company continue to surprise and astonish listeners ... even after twenty years of playing together!The guiding work of keyboardist Riza Arshad has never been bolder or more self-assured, with the maestro laying down line after line of flowing, sensitive, unpredictable-yet-wonderfully-articulate passages. Renowned guitar phenom Tohpati is equal to the task, compelled to produce some of his most emotional and ambitious fretwork to date. Framing a profound comprehension and command of the cuts' many intricate complexities, shifts and nuances, his world-class guitar stylings have never been sweeter; his tones, textures and phrases are consistently perfect for the occasion.Propelling the steady, confident undercurrent, monster bassist Adhithya Pratama, and their three seasoned percussionists (Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana, and newest member, Cucu Kurnia) provide a solid foundation beneath the dense, weaving foreground musings of Riza and Tohpati. Despite their propensity for waltzing wildly into the unknown, the band is always on sure footing through even the most challenging sonic terrain. This is as good as modern jazz gets.Perhaps this could be, to a small extent, a case of "returning to one's roots:" this instrumental offering would seem to bear more resemblance, stylistically, to their third album, Trance/Mission (produced prior to their association with MJR) than their two previous MoonJune releases [the aforementioned Demi Masa, and 2007's Patahan (MJR015)]. But, in all truth, this would not be doing this album justice: The Sixth Story goes well beyond anything previously offered by any of those albums, weaving its own, intriguing, spellbinding tale.The greatest works of the genre have always exhibited a spirit of pioneering excellence. There is no exception here: this is a modern progressive jazz masterpiece -- an astounding work of uncompromising excellence.... and one, most certainly, not be missed!
 
 
TRACKSClick on any highlighted track title to listen to individual audio samples, or listen to them all on the player to the right.
 
 
PERSONNEL
RIZA ARSHAD: Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano, synth, soundscapes
TOHPATI: electric guitar
ADHITHYA PRATAMA: bass guitar
ENDANG RAMDAN: Sundanese kendang percussion (left)
ERLAN SUWARDANA: Sundanese kendang percussion (right)
CUCU KURNIA: assorted metal percussion
PRODUCTION
All compsitions by Riza Arshad, except track 7 by Riza Arshad and Robert M.R.
All arrangements by Riza Arshad with Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia.
Recorded at LikeEarthRecordings Studio, Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.
Engineered and mixed by Riza Arshad.
Mastered by Sam John at Precise Mastering, Ltd., Earlston, Scotland, UK.
Executive Producer: Leonardo Pavkovic
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ALBUM REVIEWS

"... much Joe Zawinul ivory synth tickling from Riza Arshad (who has eschewn the Ratledge influences this time around), Tohpati (Tohpati Ethnomission, Tohpati Bertiga) dancing his guitar above, below, and all around Arshad, Holdsworthian here, Boyle-esque there, even copping Scofield licks when the occasion arises."

- Mark S. Tucker, FAME

"Although the album may resonate more with jazz fans than the average prog audience, it is highly recommended to all open-minded listeners, especially those who enjoy the influence of different ethnic traditions on established Western modes of expression. ... an extremely classy effort ... one of the standout releases of 2013 ..."

- Raffaella Berry, ProgSphere

"Throughout the disc the musicianship is scintillating. The interplay between guitar and Rhodes piano is often quite riveting as the complex fills of both instruments compete for space usually with the percussion providing a steady backdrop. Often the band explores their improvisational side which contrasts nicely with their compositional form."

- Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility

"This is not just modern Jazz but modern-modern-modern Jazz. Some have made references to Joe Zawinul and others but this is more than simply fusion.

"Categorization of simakDialog is impossible. Freestyle Jazz, Fusion, Psychodelic Jazz, even Progressive Jazz all seem to fall short. This should be called Alchemical Jazz--not just combining elements but rising above the various elements to create something newer, greater and truly unheard before. But I certainly want to hear more."

- Travis Rogers, JazzTimes

"... it is not simply the English titles that will be familiar to jazz fusion fans. This is a band that knows the contemporary idiom."

- Jack Goodstein, BlogCritics

"The 6th Story is world-class world fusion ... the potent unifying of rhythm with harmony, composition with improvisation, and East with West."

- S. Victor Aaron, Something Else! Reviews

"another winner ... Simak Dialog in full bloom. Listen and dig!"

- Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

"On The 6th Story there is human warmth and real emotion on display as well as more technique than most bands achieve in a lifetime.

"... some stellar individual playing and a lot of tight ensemble interplay ... yet another must-buy jazz fusion album ..."

- Roger Trenwith, Dutch Progressive Rock Page

"... this is pure, unadulterated simakDialog, expansively grooving but with a newfound singularity of purpose. The band is tighter than ever ... an utterly unique, intimate flavor.

"Some have noted Canterbury elements in simakDialog's sound -- unsurprising for a MoonJune band -- and echoes of '70s Canterbury stalwarts like Gilgamesh and Hatfield and the North can be heard in Arshad's compositions and the group's appealing instrumental voicings, even as the rhythmic foundation comes from an entirely different place."

- Dave Lynch, AllMusic

"... 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.

"This is music that somehow is incredibly immediate and welcoming, while at the same time being complex and heavily layered."

"... this is a wonderfully solid and enjoyable album, and one that can be recommended wholeheartedly."

- Kev Rowland, ProgArchives

"... 20 years later, they still have the power and the touch ... hats off to Moonjune Records releasing this unbelievable album ... an unexpected special treat for Jazz and Prog lovers."

- Zachary Nathanson, Music From The Other Side of the Room

"While some comparisons might be found in the early work of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever or Herbie Hancock of roughly the same period, the applicable label here is keyboard driven electric jazz-rock (not fusion) with outstanding guitar and some very solid ethnic cred primarily due to the complex rhythms that underlie it all. Nothing else quite like this."

- Peter Thelen, Exposé

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ARTIST PROFILE

Keyboardist/composer Riza Arshad and guitarist Tohpati formed simakDialog in 1993. Living in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, this band couldn't avoid being influenced by the traditional sound of the gamelan ensemble. As one of the culturally richest and diversified countries in the world, Indonesia treasures a vast variety of art and musical forms that have been a global inspiration.

simakDialog are unique in having an understanding of the ancient rituals of temple music, as well as completely grasping the essence of those long-haired psychedelic sounds of slightly less ancient times. Prior to Demi Masa, simakDialog have released four albums: Lukisan, Baur, Trance/Mission and Patahan. They have won two trophies from Anugerah Musik Indonesia (Indonesian Music Awards 2003), for Best Jazz/Contemporary Jazz Album (Trance/Mission), and Best Jazz/Contemporary Jazz Producer (Riza Arshad).

Their international debut, Patahan, was released in 2007, with worldwide distribution by MoonJune Records -- subsequently gaining enthusiastic reviews in over 25 countries worldwide. The band has performed  in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Germany and Netherlands.

For worldwide bookings outside of Indonesia, contact MoonJune Records: noanoamusic {at} moonjune [.] com

Artist's website: www.myspace.com/simakDialog

Image: MoonJune Records artists, simakDialog.
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