With his previous MoonJune Records releases as a member of pioneering Indonesian fusion groups simakDialog and Tohpati Ethnomission, Tohpati Ario Hutomo served notice to connoisseurs of intelligent and adventurous guitar playing that he is a galaxy-class player of limitless instrumental ability and rare imagination. His latest CD "Riot" provides more overwhelming evidence that Tohpati is quickly taking his place alongside the world’s great guitarists in any genre.
Winner of numerous Best Guitarist awards in his native Indonesia, Tohpati is a widely celebrated musical treasure in that vast, musically fecund country, where he has worked with many of the nation’s major popular musicians and entertainers. But his true love has always been jazz-rock fusion in the rarefied tradition of John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Scott Henderson and Allan Holdsworth, which he performs with an authority belying his years and geographical roots. Yet while hints of these and other influences (Fripp, Rypdal) are sometimes apparent in his playing, Tohpati has matured into a singular voice on his instrument as well as a composer of uncommon breadth and skill.
"Riot", a power-trio session with his group Bertiga – featuring the superlative rhythm section of electric bassist Indro Hardjodikoro and drummer Aditya Wibowo “Bowie”, who match the guitarist blow for blow – is Tohpati’s most playful MoonJune offering to date, a jubilant, high-energy romp through a garden of musical delights, from ripping fusion workouts redolent of Tony Williams’s Lifetime or Pat Metheny at his least well-behaved (“Pay Attention”), to ferocious, dizzying math-metal (“Upload”), to spiraling, Holdsworthian liquid arpeggios (the title track), with occasional hints of Indonesia’s glorious musical heritage showing through, particularly in the rhythmically intricate unison passages. Whether delivering a mini-clinic in tasty rock guitar idioms in “Rock Camp”, which evokes all the excitement of a youthful first encounter with rock and roll, or giving a grand tour of various Old World musical dialects in “Middle East”, Tohpati’s mastery of multiple musical languages is as natural as breathing.
Unlike so many latter-day fusion outings that amount to nothing more than empty displays of technique, "Riot" boasts a richness of musical content to match the fireworks. The resulting music is at once spot-on precise and exuberantly uninhibited, with Tohpati sporting an appealingly raw tone that suits the high-spirited repertoire perfectly, spiced with sparing use of audacious electronics. With "Riot", Tohpati and Bertiga chart a bold new advance on the fusion dialect that is certain to exhilarate not only jazz-rock partisans, but also fans of muscular progressive rock and intelligent metal. Destined to be one of the guitar records of the year. – Dennis Rea
More info about the album here.