With fellow Indonesian ethno-fusioneers simakDialog paving the way, the Tohpati Ethnomission charts similar waters and shares a percussionist with its forerunner. And that is not without good reason: guitarist-bandleader Tohpati is a former Dialog'er. Tohpati is the wielder of textures electric and synthetic with his Stratocaster and MIDI guitars, and for now the Ethnomission operates without a keyboardist. There will never not be room enough for great music and Save The Planet is hence the other side of the coin, the tails to (labelmates) simakDialog's heads-up.
On the title track, Tohpati's Strat scatters notes like jagged shards over an airy mattress of jubilation proclaimed by flautist Diki Suwarjiki's suling (that's a Sundanese flute). The rhythmic foundation of bassist Indro Hardjodikoro and the percussion tandem of drummer Demas and simakDialog's Endang light everything up at the proper intervals. The resultant instrumental pyrotechnics set off a brewing payload, while "Sacred Dance" dampens the inertia with a sonic portrait of mist-covered hillsides and soft velvety greenery.
For a little less world, a little more western, and plenty more fiery goings-on, aptly-titled "Drama" presents an overture-like scheme with power chords and unison phrases. The track's galloping intensity careens into the angular stance of "Ethno Funk"—think '70s, think Lonnie Liston Smith-meets-King Crimson, though the guitar playing is far and away more a synthesis of Trower-Metheny-Santana. Keeping with the kaleidoscopic m.o., the stripped-down sound of "Gateway Of Life" involves just Tohpati and Endang's percussive mantra. The piece comes away being one of Planet's most engaging. "Let The Birds Sing" is likewise graceful, akin to Kenso's quieter moments or the echo of Canterbury in Ain Soph.
For those wondering if Indro's technique will wind up a caged exhibit, he shines on the most bass-centric "New Inspiration" and its uptempo neo-funk sections and Bayon-esque moments. The streak continues with the furious "Battle Between Good & Evil" and the album closer "Anger."
With its parallels to and differences from simakDialog's equally compelling music, Save The Planet will turn up aces as a new contender on the world fusion scene.
1. Selamatkan Bumi (Save The Planet) (9:07)
2. Bedhaya Ketawang (Sacred Dance) (8:31)
3. Drama (1:47)
4. Ethno Funk (8:38)
5. Gegunungan (Gateway Of Life) (2:56)
6. Hutan Hujan (Rain Forest) (8:42)
7. Biarkan Burung Bernyanyi (Let The Birds Sing) (7:27)
8. Inspirasi Baru (New Inspiration) (4:13)
9. Perang Tanding (Battle Between Good & Beast) (8:16)
10. Pesta Rakyat (Festive People) (5:10)
11. Amarah (Anger) (2:34)