Intrepid Indonesian adventurers’ Baltimore endeavors – band ahoy!
Given the excitement they produce in the studio, one might wonder how this ensemble would sound on-stage, and here’s the answer – arguably, not the expected version of it, because it’s quite dimly lit in many a place, but has defying expectations not been the group’s forte all along? Going against the grain of the regular, simakDIALOG don’t charge headlong into the ecstatic exotica yet build their buzz gradually, as if to make sure nothing gets lost. That’s why, while their last tour was promoting "The 6th Story" – whence no less than four cuts landed onto the concert set, including the finale rhythm fest of “5,6” with the label mate Beledo guesting on guitar – the careful start of it all is a half-forgotten “Throwing Words” from 2002, where Riza Arshad’s keyboard and Tohpati’s guitar trade relaxed licks on the fusion ground over sparse percussion.
Such a toning down disappears and emerging riffs announce the band’s real fire which is stoked on the second disc of the set, where another “Trans / Mission” track, “This Spirit,” explores a wild 18-minute expansion – from jazz to avant-garde tonal jive – over its twice-as-short original. But it’s the moment when hypnotic, if somewhat insistent in its slithery runs, “Stepping In” steps back for “For Once And Never” that the previously compressed energy is swirled into a lazy tornado – borne out of the psyched-up interplay and wah-wah’s set against the gamelan backdrop. The beat and vibe get tight but loose in one more new tune, the Latinesque “Lain Parantina,” elegant and sharp at the same time in a live setting, and in “One Has To Be” off the combo’s MoonJune debut, "Patahan", until “Kemarau” dissipates the sound into a cosmic jungle dance. It turns urban for the pale fusion on”Disapih,” the only vestige of the brilliant "Demi Masa".
And that’s the very gist of this group’s journey from their deceptively non-rock country to the global recognition. That’s what’s expected, indeed.