TOHPATI BERTIGA – Riot

Moonjune

In keeping with my analytically unsentimental vivisection of music made in the Far East but sounding entirely Western, I’ll start this review by telling that there’s not a single note, chord or rhythmic structure in Riot that had not been heard before in some jazz-rock record from bygone eras. Something should be added pronto, though. The three musicians of Bertiga (guitarist Tohpati, bassist Indro Hardjodikoro and drummer Buwo) sound honourably direct and genuinely exhilarated by what they play. In truth, not many European or American units would be able to replicate the contents herein with the same level of ardent know-how. Then again, the apparent relaxation with which the trio executes complicated parts is nothing short of amazing, and the way they emphasize the end of each take with fits of laughter after having burnt all the bridges along the respective paths is an indication of the ductile adulthood defining the interplay. Mathematical exactitude and intelligibility, fire and zealous determination. Then, we can talk about John McLaughlin, Kazumi Watanabe, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse, Scott Henderson, Dave Weckl, John Patitucci and the likes, for a small piece of these and other renowned artists seems to belong to the sphere of influence of Bertiga. However, all is forgiven when the VU meters of ebullience are constantly on red and “technical virtuosity” is not translated with “falseness”: all three could win a “best instrumentalist” poll somewhere while maintaining our perception of their fun absolutely palpable. Given the depression caused in this writer’s mind by several sacred cows of this musical area in the last two decades, I’ll take these Indonesian chaps any time.

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