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Tohpati Ethnomission - Dewa Budjana & Tohpati: Janapati CD (album) cover


Tohpati Ethnomission

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars I have been reviewing albums from Leonardo Pavkovic's wonderful Moonjune label for well over twenty years now, and it never ceases to amaze me just how he manages to keep surprising me after all this time. Here we have two of Indonesia's most well-known guitarists, Dewa Budjana and Tohpati Ario Hutomo (simakDIALOG, Tohpati Ethnomission), coming together in a new group (BudJANA and TohPATI), along with drummer Demas Narawangsa (Tohpati Ethnomission) and bassist Adhitya Pratama (simakDIALOG), Okay, so far so good you might say, four musicians who have all worked together in the past in the jazz fusion progressive rock Indonesian style. The twist this time is not in these four musicians, but the other two elements of the group, who are also namechecked on the front of the album, namely the Czech Symphony Orchestra and the Budapest Scoring Orchestra! They are not here just to provide support either, here we have a blending of styles as different cultures and musical styles combine so that it is impossible to see where one ends and the other begins.

Over the years there have been many attempts to combine rock bands with orchestras with varying degrees of success, while jazz is of course renowned for the big band sound (which rarely includes strings, and of course some styles of progressive rock lend themselves to the sound as they have often been attempting to sound like orchestras so it is an easy step. This time we have something which is an unmitigated success, but still does not come across as I expected given the names of those involved. Both musicians have made their names expanding traditional musical styles from their home country into Western music and creating something very different indeed. Here that style has been mostly been allowed to go dormant and instead they are creating music which is more correctly classified as modern classical music as opposed to anything else. The two guitarists bounce ideas off each other, often on classical acoustic guitars as opposed to electric, but developing ideas with the orchestra so in many ways it is more structured and restrained than what I expect from the two of them. However, there is real beauty here throughout, with the delicate duo 'Samudera Pasai' being simply delightful as the two just sit quietly and bounce ideas between themselves.

Others, such as 'D Romance' uses a bombastic orchestra to its full, still playing on acoustic guitars, but then they smile and bounce along with 'Duology' which sees the quartet in full rock mode. It is fun, rock fusion with plenty of bounce. The song is also repeated at the end, but this time it is just back to the acoustic guitars and nothing else, and it is hard to pick between the two for a favourite. Budjana and Tohpati have long been two of my favourite Indonesian musicians, and between them they have released something like fifty albums so there is no excuse for not discovering them. However, if you want something more Western to the ear, instantly accessible yet still intriguing and exciting, then look no further.

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Posted Friday, May 15, 2020 | Review Permalink

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