Released next week in
via the Now-Again label, this collection of tracks from the ‘70s Indonesian
underground – fuzz, funk and freneticism – is dictatorial-toppling shit.
Seriously. Would we lie to you?
By Fred Mills
Crate diggers have been jazzed by the latterday
proliferation of excavated ‘60s/’70s African and South American rock, funk and
soul, but there remain untapped wellsprings of musicality all across the globe.
Southeast Asia is one of them, and thanks to
the efforts of contemporary acts such as Dengue Fever (who compiled pre-Khmer
Rouge-era rock last year as Electric
Cambodia), interest in the region appears to be on the rise.
Enter the astute archivists of Now-Again, a wing of the
Stones Throw label, with this 20-song comp of unbridled fuzz, funk and freneticism
aiming to tell “the untold story” of the ‘70s Indonesian underground scene that
somehow managed to flourish under the dictatorial-styled, military-backed regime
– tellingly called the New Order – of “President” Suharto. That probably wasn’t
a fluke, either, for history has often shown us how youth culture blossoms
creatively during periods of societal repression and change; think American
psychedelia in the late ‘60s, or the British punk scene under Thatcher and the U.S. hardcore
scene under Reagan.
Those Shocking Shaking
Days is a winner from the get-go. First of all, there’s a mouth-watering
60-page booklet crammed with photos, repros of vinyl and obsessively detailed
liners (courtesy native ex-pat Chandra Drews and hip-hop producer Jason Connoy;
Now-Again mainman Egon’s attention-to-detail production hand is clearly felt
here as well). With a couple hundred words devoted to each band, not to mention
a pair of lengthy introductory essays to place everything in its proper
context, the booklet literally serves as a music history class-worthy treatise,
required reading for any serious student of non-Western sounds.
Shocking Shaking Days serves up everything from the hypnotic, horn-laden
neo-Afrobeat of the Black Brothers and the thick, extemporaneous, JBs-styled
funk of Aka, to the unhinged lo-fi garage of The Brims and the hard-edged
psychedelia (think Deep Purple) of Freedom of Rhapsodia. And the group Panbers,
four brothers (full band name: Pandjaitan Bersaudara, hence the
easier-to-pronounce moniker) from Palembang, South Sumatra, serves up the
rocking yet insistently tuneful “Haai,” sung in their native tongue, helping
illustrate why the brothers became huge stars at home and even found themselves
as opening act for the Bee Gees (!) when the Gibbs came to Jakarta in ’74. (No
less a collector than Henry Rollins recently enthused, in a KCRW-FM broadcast,
over Panbers and the TSSD collection
If all this sounds like a recipe for eclecticism, welcome to
the feast. Roll over Beethoven, and tell Suharto the news.