Netlabel Music Selection


Netlabel Music Selection

10 Essential Indonesian Netlabel Releases.

by Ken Jenie


Frau “Starlit Carousel” (YesNoWave)
One of the highlights of Yes No Wave’s ever expanding catalogue is the debut of Leilani Hermiasih aka Frau. Armed simply with a piano and her wits, “Starlit Carousel” is filled piano and vocal driven songs that are clever melodically and lyrically. At times, the music draws comparison to fellow piano and singing-wiz Regina Spektor. After listening to the album in its entirety you will find that Frau has found a comfortable musical spot between her influences, imagination, and delivery to listeners. From beginning to end, the music in “Starlit Carousel” is engaging, and is worthy of all the praises it received. Do listen to this album and the follow up, “Happy Coda.”

{Tantrum} s/t (Hujan Rekords)
Listening to {Tantrum}’s self-titled album is like finding the lost tapes soundtrack for the prequel of Arisan! in Aksara Records’ stockroom. Bogor’s Hujan Rekords quite lucky to have this kind of album from their roster. The album has solid songwriting, diverse song mood and proper audio production (quite a rare trait in the terms of netlabel releases). For the one who savors Sore’s kind of atmosphere on their music player, they would fall to this album quite easily. It is no real surprise that today Adink, the pianist/guitarist of {Tantrum} join Sore as their keyboardist as well as the producer for the next album. A must listen.

Kultivasi/Umanzuki Split – “Build Venezia in Opak River” (Ear Alert Records)
Though jazz already grew its valid fanbase in the nation, there are still a lot of areas to explore regarding this genre. Including one of the most belittled subgenre of it, free jazz. Considered to be the avant-garde side of the genre, free-jazz basically is a loose form of jazz music that emphasizing on collective improvisation. It’s quite hard to find local group that plays this kind of jazz and even harder to find a local free-jazz record. With that in mind, Ear Alert’s Kultivasi/Umanzuki split is an important release for Indonesian free-jazz documentation. This project features a split album from Yogyakarta’s Kultivasi alongside with Italy’s Umanzuki. Not only that this album is important because of the rarity of a free-jazz act in the country, but also, both Kultivasi and Umanzuki demonstrate that they have the quality. Kultivasi (which also contains Wednes Mandra, the man behind Yogyakarta’s Rabu) mounts two free jazz composition that built on a set of rambling yet alluring instrumentation. Where Umanzuki assembles their songs on a more structured approach. A dynamic split that able to represent the characteristic of each artist’s origin.

ENSENA “The Judgement” (Tsefula/Tsefuelha Records)
Black metal music is certainly not a genre that suits everyone. It’s not something that every person would like to listen to in their daily routines. This exclusivity doesn’t mean that it has no value at all. In fact, the Indonesian metal scene are stealing attention from metalheads worldwide with its sounds, and the quality of the bands like Noxa and Burgerkill are winning international awards and playing on prestigious international music festivals. Ensena could be the next local band that could mesmerize metalheads worldwide. Containing 4 songs, “The Judgement” is a definite proof that Ensena is not just another metal band that has sharp edges on their logotype. Their music are channeling the abrasive side of black metal music with a gentle touch of dark atmospheric ambient. And on their debut, the Cipanas’ boys do it almost flawlessly. It’s no brainer to recommend this album for the one who still doubt about the quality of Indonesia’s metal music.

VA – “Not So Quiet on the Starfruit City” (Lemari Kota Records)
It’s always interesting to listen to a music compilation that represent an area or a city. By listening to such a compilation, we can see the energy, as well as to capture the spirit of the city’s youth. Of course, it’s not fair to compare this compilation with Jakarta’s JKT: SKRG, but surely, this compilation has its own merit. Compiled from the corners of Depok, this album focusing on documenting the punk-rock scene (including its subgenres) of the city. On the liner notes, it says that this album aims to be some kind of warning to the people about the condition of the city. This mission can be seen on 19 songs of the album that responds well to this idea. Each of the songs display their own angst, anger, distrust but also the hope of the bands to Depok as their place of living.

The Silent Love – There’s Something I Need to Tell You (In My Room Records)
It’s quite easy to track the roots of The Silent Love’s tunes, happy go lucky compositions that have sweet yet somehow bitter lyrics. A basic template for indie pop music. But the thing that made The Silent Love special is their songwriting. The music is filled with catchy guitar lines and wrapped around heartfelt lyrics. The exact portrayal of the netlabel itself. Resulting an album that has a lot of hooks but has a strong modest feel at the same time.

VA – “Megamix Militia Vol.1” (YesNoWave)
In the era of copy paste and instant creation, it is time for the concept of originality to find a new form and definition. This album is an attempt to determine the new meaning of authenticity. Collaborating with one of the most important social research institute in the country, Kunci Cultural Studies, Yes No Wave invited 5 musician to work on this project. Every artist shows their interpretation of the idea by building music composition based on popular music. Resulting a one of a kind mash-up album that has unique juxtaposition. On the opening of the album, Terbujurkaku-one of the artist fused Gun’s and Roses “Sweet O’ Child” with Slank’s “Kamu Harus Pulang” on a pantura-influenced breakcore. On the other song, Uma Guma mingled God Bless’ “Kehidupan” with The International Noise Conspiracy’s “Smash It Up”. Not only that this album offers a fresh perspective on the concept of authenticity, it also present an exceptional adjacency between high and low culture.

VA – “SUB/SIDE Compilation vol. 1” (SUB/SIDE)
If you are curious to hear what music is coming out of Surabaya, then SUB/SIDE Compilation is a good place to start. With the aim of documenting musical happenings in Surabaya, this compilation does a good job displaying the different talents from the second largest city in Indonesia. You will find everything from guitar duets, pop-punk, ska, to funkot! Take a listen and sample music from Surabaya.

Rully Shabara & Wukir Suryadi “Senyawa” (YesNoWave)
2010 marked the release of one of the best musical acts from Indonesia on Yes No Wave. Vocalist Rully Shabara joins instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi to form Senyawa, and in this 6-song release the two display their intense chemistry on the netlabel. The sounds you find in this album are organic, laden with strings and wind instruments played by Wukir while Rully’s erratic vocal stylings can be alarming and soothing at the same time. Listening to the other wordly sounds of Senyawa is a must, and this release is a great place to start going through their catalogue.

Kapten Bujbunen Al Buse Kontra Jendral Troj – “Prahara Berdarah Di Prapatan Jengkol” (Stone Age Records)
The most interesting thing about this album is on its concept. There are a lot of poetries turned into a song, but there’s still a few that develop a writing piece based on an experimental music. This album is one of the few. Initiated by the frontier for the experimental scene in south-east region, Adit Bujbunen Al Buse (Indonesia) and Man Troj (Singapore) “Prahara Berdarah..” is 15 minutes of terror soundscape that comes with a short story on the album package. There is a strong vibe of Indonesian B-Movie Horror vibe on the short story, making it an unprecedented companion to the digital dissonance.whiteboardjournal, logo