It’s been six years since we’ve heard some music by Tohpati Ethnomission. The innovator and maestro himself has been very busy with his solo career, SimakDialog, and Bertiga. He knows right away that Ethnomission is always there right inside the back of his head and waiting for the right moment to return. It’s always a great chance to start the New Year with the release Tohpati Ethnomission’s new album entitled, Mata Hati released on the MoonJune label.
I’ve been a supporter of Tohpati’s work since 2013 when I received a few albums from the label to get me started by going on the Train of MoonJune to see what I was missing thanks to my introduction of the label from PROG Magazine to the first of the series of Romantic Warriors. Remember when I said “Whenever something in the mail comes in and it’s from MoonJune Records, I know my ears are ringing.” Well they are ringing more for Tohpati.
Recorded in February last year in Jakarta, Indonesia, it’s almost as if it’s a welcoming return for the band to be back in action. It’s the same line-up as before from their 2010 release, Save the Planet. And this time, featuring the Czech Symphony Orchestra to lend Tohpati a helping hand. With five centerpieces, it shows that he’s back in full force and no one there to stop him.
Reog offers a thumping rocker to styles of Mr. Bungle, Zappa, and Primus with a Funk-Rock connection. The midsection shows Tohpati delving with an experimental effect from the delay/reverb effect he brings both on the riffs and the lead sections. Opener, Janger is a journey back to his home in Indonesia thanks to the Czech Symphony Orchestra as he brings his own version in the styles of Autumn Leaves.
The melodies between his guitar and Suwarjiki’s Flute followed by the drums and percussion from Demas and Ramdan. Both of the rhythm sections give it the full energy and the heart and soul of not both progressive and jazz music, but world music. And they let the sun rise by making you feel the warm breeze and the tempos for a new day with Tanah Emas.
Indro’s bass improvisation shines throughout for a brief bit. I wish he had a little bit more on the track and I always imagine both he and Tohpati dueling for a bit on the arrangement while Rancak is a classical-acoustic world adventure of flamenco genre with a striking beauty that Tohpati makes you feel at home. But it’s not over yet.
Amarah is heading into the waters of Heavy Metal with a Progressive roar between Mastodon and King Crimson. It is an interesting twist, but it works. Tohpati himself grabs between the styles of rhythm and lead improvisations and heavy riffs with a backbone pulse and a sonic crunch. The six-year long gap, while it took long and waiting for Ethnomission’s return, it’s well worth the wait.
This is my fifth time listening to Mata Hati. Everything is on here. Jazz, Fusion, Progressive, Classical, and World Music and Tohpai Ethnomission’s return is a crown jewel that will keep growing and knowing that they are back.