Tohpati Ethnomission
Save The Planet


4.5
superb

Review

by Zedo Kei USER (51 Reviews)
August 7th, 2012 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jazz-rock and world music fusion at its best.

There are always multiple musical personalities inside of prolific guitarist and composer Tohpati. The young Indonesian teenagers perhaps more recognize him as a great pop-rock composer who has written easy-listening and more commercial songs for diva Krisdayanti, singer Marcell Siahaan and many others. In the meantime, guitar students willingly admire his virtuosity, and compel themselves to dig Trisum - a collaboration project with Balinese guitarists, Dewa Budjana and I Wayan Balawan - while continue to keep their dream; one day they will reach such a level too. However, when we take a look at those who define themselves fans of jazz and world-music fusion, SimakDialog is obviously the band that they don't want to miss out. The hybrid fusions of jazz, rock, and traditional Indonesian music have made SimakDialog as one of very promising world-music fusion acts nowadays. And of course, Ethnomission - one of his latest projects - is not something to miss out too.

Unlike SimakDialog where Tohpati and band-leader Riza Arshad (keyboardist) have been like a partner in crime due to their well plait chemistry, in Ethnomission, he has chosen different approach. He does not need two percussionists and more chordal vibes of keyboard as Simakdialog do, but he decided to add a powerful drummer, the prodigy Demas Narawangsa, into the line up. Demas is really a dependable player, in such a young age (16, when this album recorded) he has answered that reliance - this kid has bright future in jazz music! So now the important question is, how Tohpati manages the output sounded modern on one hand, with strong feels of jazz and rock combined with a bit funky bass guitar rhythms, but on the other hand it’s also local, tribal, and tropical Indonesian flavors. The answer lies within Diki Suwarjiki's bamboo flute, "suling" - a Sundanese flute. In fact, there are numerous other regions whose similar flute as this, but in Save the Planet, apparently Sunda musical mode got a larger portion. However, Diki's playing is not merely Sunda ambience though, in "Let the Birds Sing" for example, he explores traditional Minangkabau (or Aceh? It’s hard to differentiate because they're both located in Sumatra mainland) musical fashion. If you pay attention on how Diki sounded his instrument entire the album, then you probably can feel its differences. "Let the Birds Sing" as if draws the hilly sphere of Minangkabau nature along with its greeny paddy-field landscapes. For some people, especially Malaysians, perhaps it will remind them to Seremban (Negeri Sembilan) traditional vibes. It's not quite a surprise anyway, for hundreds years those "Tom-and-Jerry" countries have shared same linguistic roots, traditional music, cuisine, and another kind of culture.

To be honest, it's hard to name the precise comparison albums so as to make Save the Planet easier to describe. But, in a glance, Tohpati's soaring electric-guitar solos perhaps will remind us to Robert Fripp, John McLaughlin, and Pat Metheny, but when he mess' around on strange Javanese and Balinese scales, he is reminiscent of nobody. True, Ethnomission are in the same spirit as what Mahavishnu Orchestra ever did in early 70s, and Pat Metheny Group in late 70s and early 80s. However, what makes this album quite different and all at once groundbreaking must be its strong accent of ethnic fusions. You can feel its distinctive atmosphere even in first track. The self-titled track, "Save the Planet", whether you like or dislike it, this song has a firmly ecological sounding-inclined in it. Here, Tohpati and friends succeed in bringing the woodland's elegy, the message is clear; save our beloved mother earth. And then, "Sacred Dance", this eight-minute track begins with a sort of gentle and atmospheric soundscape accompanied by rhythmic percussions. But, when it goes into second-half part, typical "sinden" - woman singer of Javanese gamelan orchestra - Lestari, drives a better nuance for mysterious and captivating moments for a while. Sometimes, this could be elusive for those who haven't been familiar with gamelan music, but let it grows on you in few first listens, after that see what happens. In general, the album offers similar idea with those two tracks, jazz-rock with strong ethnic influences.

It's hard to deny that in modern music history, for years we have been able find countless albums that offer nice amalgamation of so-called "east-meet-west" music, but this Southeastern Asia country, Indonesia, was slightly obscure territory to explore. True, we can find similar musical endeavors as what American clarinetist Tony Scott and his Indonesian friends pianist Bubi Chen, Jack Lesmana, and Benny Mustapha van Dienst ever did on their 1967 modal-jazz album, Djanger Bali. Also, when we look back at years of 1940s for instance, there was a Canadian jazzman, Colin McPhee, who composed jazz with strong Balinese music in his Concerto for Two Pianos and Large Orchestra Using Bali, Jazz and McPhee Elements. Such effort was ever tried too by German musician, Eberhard Schoener, in his Bali Agung (Great Bali) album.

Anyhow, compared to those mentioned albums above, Save the Planet is quite different, not only because of it has jazz-rock as one of its main foundations, but also Balinese music itself has significant difference compared to Javanese, Sundanese, and even less Malayan Sumatra music. Therefore this album has its own unique disposition and worth listening. The only constructive proposition perhaps it is Ethnomission should explore more another exotic vibes of the archipelago. If they do this, they do fit their band name. In short, for casual jazz fusion and progressive-rock fans, they may need a little bit time to absorb this. But for the jazz-freaks, and even wider, guitar work devotee, Save the Planet is a gem to dig.

*
Personnel

Tohpati: electric guitar, midi synth guitar
Indro Hardjodikoro: bass guitar
Diki Suwarjiki: suling (Sundanese flute), soundscapes
Endang Ramdan: Indonesian percussion (kendang, gong, kenong)
Demas Narawangsa: drums, Indonesian percussion (rebana, kempluk)
Lestari: featuring vocals (track 2)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ZedO
August 7th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

+ Battle Between Good And Beast; aka Perang Tanding (Live at Jazz on the Mountain Fest)

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQda8USAgcA



+ Save the Planet (Live at Salihara Theatre)

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLgjMBg5Exo&feature=related



+ Rain Forest (Live at Salihara Theatre)

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsO8f0_3OVI



+ Battle Between Good And Beast

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awXhHWlNt34



Dimor
August 7th 2012


1839 Comments


Sounds really interesting, great review too. Im checking this out

ZedO
August 7th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Dimor, let see what you think :]

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 7th 2012


26721 Comments


Will check this out. Good job Zed0, pos'd.

ZedO
August 7th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool JT, but perhaps if you want something more rockish side from this guy (Tohpati), you may like his Bertiga album, Riot.



http://www.sputnikmusic.com/bands/Tohpati-Bertiga/34004/



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HvnijiSAFc

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 7th 2012


26721 Comments


Thanks bro, I'll check that album first then. I am a fan of jazz fusion too so I will probably enjoy this as well.

ZedO
August 7th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yes of course bro, you will like it :]

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2012


4501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Oh yeah, I heard a few of their jams that you sent me on youtube. Man, these guys are incredible. Mega-POS'd!

LifeAsAChipmunk
August 7th 2012


4854 Comments


Seems interesting. Pos'd, bro.

ZedO
August 7th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Archael, but I think it's better to check out bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra first, if you like them, probably you will enjoy this too as well :]



and Paper, keep jazzy Bro...

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2012


4501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Man, I have not been able to stop listening to this album, especially "Save The Planet". Zed, you have excellent taste.

foxxxythnksustnk
January 30th 2013


2132 Comments


this is badass

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2013


26721 Comments


Yeah this rules.

ProfessorVeerappan
March 13th 2013


808 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is one of the precise albums for perfect Jazz Fusion with all the instruments coming together to cause simply madness

a good turning point in the jazz section

....

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 13th 2013


26721 Comments


Awesome album.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2013


26721 Comments


Nice 4.5 Cap, good to see you're digging this.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2013


26721 Comments


I actually bought the CD a couple of months ago, rules so hard.

I wish Zedo would come back to Sput.

elbaliem
October 6th 2013


1048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

not a big fan of jazz,but this definitely rules.

Keyblade
October 29th 2013


24798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best



Shit



Ever

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 29th 2013


26721 Comments


Agreed.



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