It was back on 2009 when Arctic Monkeys released Web Transmission. A 20 minutes performance of their then upcoming album Humbug. There was a chilling presence as each track revealed, a weird excitement, a bizarre amusement. That moment, I was sure I’ll be wanting to hear them more.
Today, the same odd admiration came to me. The layered sound and melody, the unusual song pattern, the word choices. The same chilling presence came back when I heard (and watched) Barasuara.
I might not be following the indie music scene too much here in Indonesia and my choice can only be limited to few bands like The Adams, Mocca, Sore, Float, Efek Rumah Kaca, and few others. Which most songs I believe I heard somewhere between the original soundtrack of some Indonesian movies. But Barasuara is an exception. I will quote Teguh Wicaksono’s foreword on the description on the video:
“Originally formulated as a one-man project, Iga’s decision to grant democracy to other members of Barasuara is spot on. With that line-up, making the rest of the member as additional players will be plain foolish. Already well-known bandmates Marco Steffiano, Gerald Situmorang, Asteriska Cabrini, Puti Chitara and TJ Kusuma are not only doing what they told to do, but also contribute substantial amount of power and clarity into the songs. Listening to the session, I am continuously awed by Marco’s smart, loud but tidy drumming. Producing the right sound, in the right time with the right volume is not a skill any drummer could do, especially faced with Barasuara’s steady but shifty approaches.
Songwriting is responsibly fresh, sound treatment is top-notch. Arrangement department is a nutritious delicacy for the hungry souls: you will recognise some Tinariwen juice, Sondre Lerche appetiser served with Jack White as Entree and some DD Dumbo as dessert. While the existence of backup singers in a band usually ended with question marks, the tranquility promised by Asteriska and Puti is far from ineffective, in fact they are the secret game changer of the whole Barasuara experience. Another thing that I noticed from Barasuara is they put real effort to avoid cliches. Right when you start to identify the pattern of the songs, suddenly they mutated into a different dimension, revitalised the songs for a moment before finally entering the punishing closure.”
My favorite ones are Bahas Bahasa and Sendu Melagu. Afterall, it was the exact weird excitement and bizarre amusement. I know instantly that I’ll be wanting to hear them more.
PS: Barasuara’s first album, Taifun, will be released on October 16, 2015. If you are an Apple user, pre-order here at iTunes.