Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indonesian masters of prog...

Many like me who grew up in the seventies assumed there was a "Mystery of Easter Island"-- how these primitive people managed to create and lift up these huge monsters of stone on a barren 10 mile wide island. Heyerdahl was most responsible for creating such a mystery and he claimed incas or indians from south america went westwards, rather than the obvious migration of polynesians from the east. I think it was mentioned in the notorious 'chariots of the gods' as well.

Many years later when I read about the story of Easter Island -- the scientific story -- it turned out the reality was far more interesting than the crazy theories of aliens from outer space (well, not quite as interesting as that). The polynesians, who were without doubt the greatest sailors in the history of man, sailed out initially from southeast asia (they were originially thought to be from Taiwan!) to the phillippines, to indonesia, thence to the marquesas, to australia, new zealand, finally to easter island, an area almost a third of the surface of the world. This is very simiar to the migrations of the indo-europeans from the steppes of central asia to all europe and india. On Easter Island, their tragedy was that they used up the forests that covered the Island to transport the statues (on logs and wooden beams) thus depriving themselves of the ability to even leave their island.

When the last tree was cut down, they were stuck there forever. There could no longer be a seafaring vessel with which to escape on the ocean. Suddenly they were in a prison which they had entirely created themselves, out of political or interpersonal discord or lack of foresight. As Jared Diamond said, "what did the person say who cut down the last tree?" Most likely they were starving, needed fire, and had no choice. And predictably, the further history of the people was one of constant fighting, hardship, even cannibalism. How can anyone not feel that the destruction of our whole earth is leading us down the same path, hurtling with reckless or careless abandon? I would love to hear an optimist's opinion, because to me, the experience of the easter islanders is very much like the politics of selfishness and acquisition that occurred in copenhagen with regards to kyoto, destroying a climate change agreement that everyone knew was an utter and emergency necessity. And in scientific circles, the feeling is that we also will destroy almost forests on earth in the next 100 years. For those who do agree with me, check out the amazing novel "The Road" (not the movie) for a view of our future.

In addition to their sailing talents, the polynesians (Austronesians) were surely amazingly musical people, anyone who has visited any country in Oceania knows these people feel music more profoundly than most humans, they live and die music every day. So it's not that surprising that we have so many musical gems coming out of Indonesia, including progressive masterpieces such as Giant Step.

Overall sound is slightly syrupy with popish singing, some hooks attempting to be radio-friendly esp. when the string section pulls out its schmaltzy background, but every track features some interesting feature or other. Occasionally the singers are slightly off-key and the timing is not professionally millisecond-precise but it's full of musical ideas and bursting with creative inventions. Track 7 starting with some wonderful piano solo in F features an almost composed rock song with fugue-like melodies moving in and out from electric guitar, flute, synths. Dramatic accents play out between choruses. A lot of synth soloing on keys gives it the classic prog seventies sound. Virtuoso Lisztean grand piano playing, delicate flute solos, abrupt chord changes one after another in the elp tradition all make appearances. Track 8 is a little annoying with a have-to-hear-it-to-believe melody that jumps an octave and back down again after a pause. I imagine this is derivative of folk music of the area because I have no other explanation for it.

Thanks to master shige again for these albums. To quote:

Contrapunk "Putri Mohon Diri" (1976,classical prog)

Album title... Putri Mohon Diri
Band's name..... Contrapunk
produced by..... Adji Bandi
year... 1976

Side A
Grace Simon
Titiek Puspa
Grace Simon
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi

Side B
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Adji Bandi
Grace Simon
Grace Simon

The following text was tranlated into English from this link

CONTRAPUNK is a group formed by ADJI BANDI, TONO SUPARTO, PUNGKY MOEKTIO, ARIS and JESSY. They tried to combine classical music with rock music.In other words..."Bach-Rock".
This group started to record their first album,but during the recording,PUNGKY MOEKTIO (key)resigned and instead of him, YOCKIE SURYOPRAYOGO joined as a guest player. and moreover,added NANO(flute).And the album released by them was "PUTRI MOHON DIRI"(1976)(means...princess,please yourself) supported by TITIEK PUSPA and GRACE SIMON as guest vocalists.. 'PUTRI MOHON DIRI'(track2)is a song that finished the second place in Festival Lagu Populer Indonesia(Indonesian Popular Song Festival) in 1976. It was the song that sounded magnificent and fitted the opera style performed by Titiek Puspa .But unfortunately,though promising,this group disappeard with only this sole album......

Contrapunk is....
Adji Bandi....viola,piano,lyre,vocal
Tono Suparto....Bass
Aris...lead guitar
Yockie Suryoprayogo( of "God Bless")....keyboards(supported member)

(guest vocalists)

As bonus I include a true underrated gem, which I've listened to repeatedly and am always shocked by. Check out the side-long track which is chock-full of musical ideas and melodies, never repeating, one after another, no long boring guitar solo. I speak of Yockie Suryoprayogo "Musik Saya Adalah Saya ". Here we have basically maybe a pop rock album wherein the composer has thrown all kinds of madness into the mix, odd chord changes, very unusual melodies, and to top it off there is this side-long track which remains me of Dezo Ursiny's Ostrov because it is sung throughout, not simply an instrumental symphonic style composition. (In all honesty, not quite the masterpiece as Dezo's.) I have to wonder about this guy-- what was he thinking? Was there really a market for this in Indonesia at the time? Or more likely, it was his labour of love, his attempt at demonstrating how far he could go in music?

As a double bonus I include another album from Yockie, "Bahtera Asmara", with beautiful female vocals, check it out.

All thanks to the master shige for his insuperable generosity. For those who pray, send all your prayers to the unfortunate people of Japan and a soon recovery from this unimaginable catastrophe...



Tristan Stefan said...



Boy Warren said...

Master Shige??? What is this and why mention this like you depend on it? Do I have to be worried not knowing what this means?

Tristan Stefan said...


Bahtera Asmara:

Tristan Stefan said...

Andi Meriem Mattalatta "Bahtera Asmara" (1978)

A1 Hasrat & Cita ....Fariz
A2 Bahtera Asmara .....Yockie
A3 Cintaku ....Yockie
A4 Bisikku .....Yockie
A5 Kuberikan .....Roekanto

B1 Impian .....Roekanto
B2 Pilihan Hati .....B.Hariadi
B3 Merepih Alam .....Chrisye/Eros
B4 Bulan Tolonglah Beta .....Goeroeh S.
B5 Cintaku (Instrumental) .....Yockie
B6 Datanglah Terang .....Yockie

Yockie arranges this album and plays electric piano,acoustic piano,polymoog,electric bass,synthesizer,string melody,tokai,drums,percussion and backing vocal.

Album Bahtera Asmara by singer Andi Meriem Mattalata under music director Yockie and Chrisye (published by Musica record, 1978) is one of 150 Best Indonesian Albums according to Rolling Stone Indonesia magazine (December, 2007).

This album is an other musical achievement of Yockie-Chrisye-Guruh-Eros collaboration. The genre is progressive-pop, but actually the most powerfull thing in this album is it’s magical melodies and it’s poetical lyrics. The arrangement is so far simple but perfect. And so far Andi Meriem is the best woman singer to interprete Chrisye’-like songs.

Andi Meriem is a lucky woman singer, since she got the best musical achievement from Indonesian musicians. This album consists of 11 songs which were composed by prominent Indonesian composer such as Goeroeh Soekarnoputra, Yockie, Fariz RM, Anton Issudibyo, Roekanto, B Hariadi, Eros Djarot. All songs are hits, or at least cacthy melodies. And famous names were engaged as guest musicians, such as violinist Idries Sardi, Kiboud Maulana, and Uce F Tekol.

Yockie-Chrisye-Eros-like song lovers, may be they have this album in cassete format. But do they have this album in longplay format? Not every body off course. But surely there is Bahtera Asmara album in lp format. What is the difference between the two? It is a same matter and a same version. The difference is the lp version only consists of 7 songs. The four songs which was excluded from lp format are Impian, Pilihan Hati, Merepih Alam, and Bulan Tolonglah Beta

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris - these are pretty good! Mixture of schmaltz and prog utterly unique to this culture and somehow works in a cool way.

Your old friend, Viz :)

Anonymous said...

Herr Tristan! Es ist deine freund, Herr Franz K.! Vie gehts? Ich habe horen, in Staldingstunstadt, brewmaster general fur Weihenstephaner bier hast made you brewmaster colonel!
He promoted you for tasting 450 weiBbier per day for drei months! Bitte, you must take vacation then -- We germans required by EU law to take 8 weeks bei jahr! DAS IST UNMOGLICH -- bitte Herr Tristan!!
Also, prosit! auf wiedersehn Herr Tristan!

PS hast du zebulon, oder Metzlutzkas Erben, im flac?

Tristan Stefan said...

looks like I'm again victim of mistaken identity -- fourth time this reincarnation!! Life was easier last time, when I was Hans the talking horse! I repeat, I am Herr Tristan Stefan, Doktor, Ph.D. in mixology (Berlin U. class of ' 91 (? possibly?)) -- I am not Joaquim Phoenix, nor did I ever play him in a movie, and I never dated Knut the polar bear (R.I.P.!!!)
And to my stalker-- no I will not play ping pong with you ever again! not even if you stop holding the paddle the chinese way!

Anonymous said...

Fail download MP3 from flameupload.
Is it possible to re-up to MU, or MF ?

isabelbc said...

Anonymous, new link for mp3 >

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for MU mirror, isalbelbc :D

Japanese Kid said...

I enjoyed archives this blog every time.
Yockie & Bahtera Asmara link is dead.
Please reup.
Not found other site.

isabelbc said...

new links:
- Yockie ->
- Bahtera Asmara ->

Japanese Kid said...

Thank you very much!!!

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