CD Review: Tohpati Bertiga – Riot

Tohpati Bertiga – Riot
(MoonJune Records MJRO45. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Tohpati Ario Humato will already be familiar to followers of MoonJune releases courtesy of his virtuosic guitar playing on albums by Indonesian fusion groups simakDialog and Ethnomission, but here he leads a heavy (but surprisingly deft) power trio, completed by bassist Indro Hardjodikoro and drummer Adityo Wibowo, through a programme so determinedly various that it sometimes sounds as if the leader has set himself the task of touching every base ever visited by an electric-guitar hero.

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Tohpati’s playing, extraordinarily fluent, effortlessly expressive and multi-textured, moves – sometimes between one bar and another – from spiralling Holdsworth-like liquidity or the psychedelic plasticity of Hendrix to the heaviest fusion and tricksiest riff-based jazz rock, but is saved from mere eclectic exhibitionism by its roots in what its accompanying publicity describes as ‘Indonesia’s glorious musical heritage’, discernible chiefly in ‘the rhythmically intricate unison passages’. From tight, breezy funk (‘I Feel Great’) to driving boogie (‘Rock Camp’) and slow-building spacy jamming incorporating sounds spanning guitar history from Jerry Garcia to Mike Stern, Riot can sometimes sound like an illustrative primer for aspiring electric guitarists, but its sheer exuberance and infectious informality (it contains studio chatter between tracks) will undoubtedly exhilarate fans of the genre and make them yearn to see the band live.

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