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Tohpati Ethnomission - Save The Planet CD (album) cover

SAVE THE PLANET

Tohpati Ethnomission

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.83 | 16 ratings

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Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Indonesian project TOHPATI ETHNOMISSION is a side project instigated by composer and guitarist Tohpati (Simak Dialog). "Save the Planet" is the first production by this outfit, and was released in 2010 by US indie label Moonjune Records.

For those in the know, Tohpati's main band as well as the record label this production was released on will spell out one piece of information in rather capital letters, namely fusion. Simak Dialog is a well respected band exploring this type of music, and Moonjune Records have established themselves as a relatively small but highly respected label catering to the needs of connoisseurs of this genre.

And indeed, Tohpati Ethnomission will not disappoint those who approach their album with these associations. Tohpati himself documents his skills as a fine, technically gifted and rather versatile performer here. While not as familiar with this type of material as I perhaps should have been I can't really draw to many comparisons to established and legendary musicians active in this field past and present I'm afraid. Al Di Meola was a name that came up from time to time however, Carlos Santana another. And on a few occasions, certain details made me think of Joe Satriani too, and one instance even good, old Leslie West. Those with intimate knowledge of jazzrock and fusion will most likely vehemently protest at such associations, but even if perhaps not entirely accurate I hope they will relay something about diversity. Which is very much a part of this disc, but on a detailed level rather than in dominant expressions and guitar textures as such.

But the guitar doesn't make an album alone, even if important. And the 11 compositions explored on this album are very much part of an instrumental whole. The suling (aka Sundanese flute) is used extensively, and is perhaps the most important instrument as far as crafting moods and atmospheres go. This flute has a pleasant and distinct sound, and besides adding a massive exotic presence to these excursions and seeing to it that reviewers can flaunt descriptions such as ethnic, folk and world music, it is also used extensively to either harmonize or subtly contrast the guitar motifs. Fairly often we're treated to elongated flute soloing too, with the guitar having more of a subservient role underscoring these particular proceedings.

Bass and drums sets the foundation as far as rhythms and pace go, with the bass given the freedom expected by a fusion project to roam and take on the occasional solo. But the regular drums are perhaps given a slightly more passive role for this band however, due to the extensive use of additional percussion. Kendang, gong and kenong the instruments, given the common description as Indonesian percussion, and again with a strong and distinct presence that will make veteran reviewers find synonyms and alternative phrases for the aforementioned folk, ethnic and world music descriptions. And the percussional details does venture rather far off from any subservient role too. Dampened yes, but in a fireworks sort of way. Kind of watching a gigantic cascade of different fireworks from a mile off. They dominate the skyline. A more or less fitting allegory for how Endang Ramdan's instrumental escapades function on "Save the Planet".

Apart from the occasional dip into territories too smooth and too slick I can't really find anything negative to say about this CD. And while I wasn't mesmerized my breathtaking moments of instrumental beauty either, that has more to do with my own taste in music than the compositions and performance I suspect. To my ears and my impression, this production should be an enthralling experience to most jazzrock and fusion enthusiasts.

Tohpati Ethnomission have crafted a fine album with "Save the Planet", and in addition to fans of instrumental jazzrock and fusion in general I suspect quite a few fans of good, old Carlos Santana might want to explore this band too. While the similarities as such are few and in approach more than sound, the overall mood and atmosphere is one I think might just make a positive impression also among that fanbase.

Windhawk | 4/5 |

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