Indonesian guitar maestro’s majestic strut into the West and back again.
It’s a sign of uniqueness when your first name is enough for global recognition, and this musician knows it well, going from 2012’s "Riot", credited to Tohpati Bertiga, to this exciting platter. Thanks to MoonJune, the six-stringer laid it down with one of the most reliable and flexible rhythm sections in the world, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Chad Wakerman, yet it’s guitarist’s own groove that the trio pursue here – and not on jazzy terms. There’s atomic energy on the tracks which run from picking to riffing in a single breath, and if the taut ripple of “Red Mask” conjures neither carnival nor carnal connotation, “Rahwana” rocks arrestingly hard to weave national motifs into the Frippean vibe.
But while the title cut unfurls silvery transparency for one to revel in, it’s “Spirit Of Java” with its thick harmonic solemnity, striving for eternity and soaring slowly into the sky, that should be proclaimed the island’s anthem, yet the piece just as incandescently dissipates into playful funk and a rainbow-like fusion before the drums return it onto the righteous path. To move down it, “Run” rolls out the bass and drums festival wherein Tohpati radiates a delicately textured warmth which turns to jittery rage in “Supernatural” until “Midnight Rain” pours a bluesy tune rooted in both an Indonesian and American night-club tradition. Dancing the night away has never been so exhilarating.