The Astounding Underground of Indonesia

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The World Underground heads to Indonesia for his archival documentary series.

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John Yingling | February 11, 2016

0 - Header - Toyol Dolanan Nuklir

Toyol Dolanan Nuklir. All photos by John Yingling.

Indonesia is DIY down to the bone. Wholehearted. It seeps out from every crevice. Every wire soldered into a hand-made synthesizer. It is this way, because there is no other way. If you can ever go give it a look yourself, or better yet bring your band for a tour, there is no better time than right now.

Over a year of planning a leap into Indonesia’s underground, and realistically, we had very little on paper. I was fine with this. Aside from glowing reports as far back as I can remember, I saw from their rabid social media use it was going to be intense. The point of these trips is never to fill a schedule to the minute. It wouldn’t work with Indonesia, because aside from international tours, much of their booking is done shortly before the gigs actually happen. Besides, that’s not how I ever want to travel, and it will probably never be the point of this project. These trips will always be to embed myself into the communities for as long as possible. Make a few contacts, and dive into the deep end to figure out what’s really going on. Try and get a real sense of what’s happening.

Any semi-serious thoughts about heading over were turned into action by last year’s filming of the Guiguisuisui and Noise Arcade tour. As with the previous trips to China, Korea, and Japan, a small network of contacts quickly branched out to dozens.

Klepto Opera.

Klepto Opera.

Off we we went.

Our first stop was Surabaya. My brain was mush, the scope of where I was having not really settled in. Indonesia was a lot less hot than I was expecting. Sure, you leave the airport to a thick heat, but before I left, people were warning me I was going to die if I wasn’t careful. It all depends on where you are, and the day. In reality, one of the few reasons I was actually here, in Surabaya, and Indonesia in general, was a man nick-named “Tokoh Antagonist.” His real name is Yoyon, and he’s an old head for these parts. It’s our first day, and we head to an old graveyard with him, tagging along with his band KLEPTO OPERA, a unique grunge / noise-rock act who’ve been going for over 15 years. They were shooting a video for a new song “Menggilas Dunia”. Most of the graves dated back to the mid 1800s, and over 60% of them were dug up by looters. Drummer, Tommy Adam, says, “These types of places, they should be protected. They’re part of the history.” They’re playing fierce for this band photo, but they were ridiculously kind. Though it’s Ramadan, not everyone is fasting. A first warung meal next to a skate park that was very crowded by the time we left. Tomorrow, a noise set on the streets. Noise Bombing: Round 1.

2 - Tommy's son messes around with a noise instrument

The kids, getting involved. Tommy’s son.

Tommy Adam is a photographer and videographer. He and his wife also just started a salad company called Good Salad Indonesia. It’s a delicious mix of apples, dragon fruit, yogurt, and more. A yogurt based fruit salad. It’s great, and extremely refreshing considering the majority of the food we’re running into here lean toward the fried end.

Once again, I’m in some car on some random street, with what is, realistically, a bunch of strangers. Once again, I feel totally comfortable and happy. Traffic is intense, but I can imagine still a minute fraction of what I’d deal with in Jakarta. “It’s easy to get a car, and they all do, but they’re not expanding the roads.” Tommy says, as they bring us to neighboring Sidoarjo. He showed us his home, which his wife also runs a dental clinic out of. Whole city blocks kept losing power, blacking out intermittently. He brought us to his favorite Warung, which is a small, family run shop, and can vary in purpose. Usually, it’s food or a cafe.

Tommy tells us his love for Nasi Pecel, a fried rice dish with vegetables and peanut sauce. It’s delicious. As I expected, the peanut sauce here is next level. Surely this dish varies stall by stall. I look forward to the all-day punk rock rager that’s planned for a few days from now. 15 or so bands, and the gigs start bright and early. This is done out of necessity, to maximize the day they purchase everything for. Gigs in small rehearsal studios are the same way. Like any other cramped gig I’ve seen in Asia, but on steroids. Buy a chunk of time, cram in as many people, bands, merch tables as possible. Admirable energy levels.

We’re brought to a park, where a few noise kids show up with a spread of hand-made instruments, and as the sun fades during a long set up, they point the speakers at the street and blast a harsh drone out to bounce off cars, blend in with horns and motorbikes. Rusty cages mix with pedals. A mad-scientist set up of contact mics atop wiggling rubber bits. Water thrown into what I presume was a cup of oil, a bloom of fire splashing upwards with each flick, spouting crackles that mix with other collaborators. Tommy’s son gets sleepy, and Tommy’s our ride, so we leave early.

Children build simple noise instruments.

Children build simple noise instruments.

How do you ensure a new generation of noise kids? Sit them down workshop style, and teach them how to create simple instruments out of pencils. Today was supposed to be a rest day, but a new friend Aoki Chan (HyperAllergic) suggested we go to this, and we’re really glad we did.

I did not expect to see such a large group of young kids sitting around, super interested to learn about circuitry, soldering instruments together. The adults wrote what these pieces were on a small chalkboard as the children sat attentively. “Uncle” Twis, Helmi Hardian, and many others have a collective called Waft-Lab, doing this across Indonesia and Thailand. Inspiring. I film it all deliriously, jumping in and out of the small house as the sun sets and my head spins. Tomorrow: 15 bands in one day. I stayed as long as my body could take it, leaving after four hours, and they were still smiling, eager to learn. Ramadan schedule is catching up to me.

Ramadhan Attack.

Ramadhan Attack.

The first of many all-day noise extravaganzas I’ll likely encounter in Indonesia. Something very surreal about seeing a 5 year old windmilling and spin-kicking alongside the big kids. I knew Indonesia loves their dozen band bills, but damn. What a day. I kept getting grabbed to do interviews at random. Yoyon tries to align me with a few old-timers in the Surabaya scene, but there’s literally nowhere to go to do a half-way decent interview that’s not drenched in noise. At one point, I gave up on any sort of traditional setting, and crammed into a car with a drunk first-generation punk rock frontman who, no shit, stole the car we were sitting in. He’s an alcoholic. A drug addict. He admits this readily, knows it, but cares deeply for his family and just wants to take care of them. A day of tough shooting. High stages. Harsh angles, and 3 song sets. Just when you settle in, it’s over. I think I pulled some decent footage from the day. There’s another one of these when we return to Surabaya in a month and a half. Tomorrow: rest, for real this time.

Batu. East Java.

Batu. East Java.

Finally I get to meet the infamous Anca Manimau. He lives on the road. The endless tour. DIY warrior. Two hours on an intense bus, and a short motorbike ride, leaves you at the place pictured above. Beautiful as hell.

We head to a small cafe. In the back, a small recording, practice, and gig room. You can cram about 10 people in there at best, and the rest watch heads from the entrance. Hardcore, grindcore, punk. Again, 3 song sets. By the time you get your bearings, it’s over. That’s still insane to me, but it makes sense. Three sets with female vocalists, a nice surprise considering I was told there wouldn’t be much of that going on here. Around the sixth band, I start sweating. It’s not that hot out. My vision takes dips and blurs. I grab food and a cold drink. It doesn’t help. So began the first of many times I got sick in Indonesia. A few days of off and on wincing, photo finish runs to the bathroom, and you’re usually good, but man, I thought I had an iron stomach. Indonesia proved me wrong. Toward the end of the trip, I’d meet up with Sean, an expat who bounces in and out of Southeast Asia, and he tells me he plans on being sick for two months every time he comes to stay for a long period. “2 months, and then you’re good.” Personally, I think the food’s deliciousness (and cost) is worth it. It’d probably be a bit better if you watched what you ate a little bit, but I never do, within reason. Anyways. You are warned.

Anca Hcs Manimau of HCS Crew!

Anca Hcs Manimau of HCS Crew.

The guy should be a hero to anyone who’s ever toured as a long-term means for supporting something. In a tour diary last year, Dann Gaymer said it best: “This is his life. He has no home, no job, nothing besides his bands, an iPhone and backpack full of tees. When he’s not on tour he stays with friends and screens shirts, but mostly he’s on tour. While hardcore has begun to be more commercialized in Indonesia with big companies looking to sponsor events and booking agents carving out profit margins, Anca stays in the underground, DIY to the end, shows in practice rooms and skateparks, living off merch sales and appreciation for his hard work. Think of a really nice version of GG Allin, that’s Anca.”

A few days left in Surabaya, and we head to Yogyakarta to meet Indra Menus and crew. After that, Anca will take us around, tour style, on our way to Jakarta.

Jogja Community.

Jogja Community.

Yogyakarta. Jogja. Whatever you choose to call it, I already like it here. A cultural hub of Indonesia. It’s worth noting, that before this trip, we were told of a few places to go. The hits, like Surabaya, Bandung, Jakarta. Without context and a proper schedule, it was really just a dart thrown at the map, after a few long Facebook conversations. A fluke that most of our time would be spent in Jogja, and I had absolutely no idea the types of amazing creativity that were actually happening here. It’s the only region in Indonesia headed by a monarchy. Indra Menus meets me. Indra is one of the other main reasons I’m even here. Like Josh Feola and Nevin Domer to the China episode, Indra has a maniacally encyclopedic knowledge of happenings, history, music, connections, and art around the country. Nearly every single person I talked to in different cities, thousands of miles away, knew his name. Called him a “prophet.” A good guy to know. He runs YK Booking and Doggyhouse Records, is also an archival nerd after my own heart, compiling a backlog of recordings and general sickness for connectivity I know all too well.

This is another important hub of noise kids, building synths out of Nintendos, found and made objects, whatever they can make work. We walk around the central market area, and end at a coffee shop ran by his friend. The amount of dark spaces here that house expertly crafted products is impressive. You just have to know where to look, or not be afraid to dig. Again, locals are extremely nice. Don’t be shy. I finally meet Lintang Radittya, who makes something he calls the “Javanese Modular”. Great conversations. A heavy week coming.

Belkatrelka

Belkatrelka.

Jogja. Indra picks us up and brings us to the Malioboro area by motorbike. It’s a shit-show area filled with chained up carriage horses that don’t go anywhere, a ton of vendors that buy the things that sit in a box somewhere until you eventually throw it out. Indra brings me to a store he says is “Malioboro under one roof,” and it’s actually quite impressive. Old government figure portraits line the walls in gold frames. Racks of cheap wooden instruments that I’d have purchased a ton of if I thought they’d survive the next few months. Maybe it was the luck of the draw, but I don’t think I saw more than a few dozen foreigners on this entire trip. Surely, what we were doing, and where, had something to do with it, but almost weekly I’d make note of it. Refreshing.

One thing you should know about Indonesia, is the scene kids here will just set things up for you. A text will come late at night, saying “Tomorrow we will go here.” You’ll get a text that morning saying they’re in the lobby of your hotel. Sometimes, none of this was properly discussed. You need to roll with this. It’s fine. They’re excited, and want to bring you out for coffee, or to do something fun. Share their city. Another good piece of information: “Indonesia Time.” If a gig is slated for a 4PM start, it may not start until 8PM. This happens all the time. It’s like “punk time” on a whole other level. That’s not to say they’re unorganized. It’s “just Indonesia.”

Tonight was a meet-up for Yogyakarta’s chapter of Soundcloud users. For whatever reason at the time, that struck me as weird, but it wasn’t. Off we went, to Oxen Bar. A beautiful out-door patio stage. After a few low-key acoustic acts, Belkastrelka board the stage, and Asa Rahmana brings some heavy Bjork meets CocoRosie vibes while her husband Yennu busts on a guitar plugged into a spread of pedals I don’t know.

A fitting soundtrack to this city. Noise is a concern in this area, like many. You could tell they were turned way, way down. I thought perhaps we can organize a louder round two upon our return in September, but it didn’t happen.

Lintang and his Javanese Modular

Lintang and his Javanese Modular.

Jogja. Indra and Hendra pick me up, and it’s a short motorbike ride south to Kasongan Village. Our first stop, the Kenalirangkai Pakai headquarters, where Lintang Radittya crafts “Javanese Modulars.” This outskirt area is a place I told myself for weeks I would get back to and shoot b-roll, photos, but never did. Yogyakarta is beautiful.

More happy kids mulling about. We chat about Javanese culture and Islam as Lintang’s little girl curiously runs around, messing with his instruments as we talk. The synth building crew in Java has strong bonds, and seriously unique, intense, inspiring creations. Afterwards, we jump back on the bikes for a short meeting with Andreas Siagian and Budi Prakosa in their workshop called Lifepatch. They warp, break, build, and scrape up all sorts of great noise-making bits and pieces, mess around with 8-bit synths built out of Nintendo cartridges, tin containers. Lifepatch adds the names of collaborators on some these machines, right next to the dials. Java’s crafting of these is a lot more clean lines, less of the insane mutant meat grinder stuff in Surabaya. They all watch each other’s creations intently, though. Another day fades to a noise drenched night.

Made Dharma, Noise Bombing.

Made Dharma, Noise Bombing.

Jogja Noise Bombing. A tight knit collective of creators, noise makers, instrument builders, illustrators. Inspiring as hell. Every year, they run a festival. From what I’ve seen, it’s truly something to behold. They grab us on motorbikes and we head to a university district with an amp, a mess of cables and extension cords. Nobody bats an eye, from what I saw, but Indra tells me sometimes they do get stopped by security guards. I asked what they do then? He just smiles. “Move, or wait.” Multiple sets oozed out into the streets, bouncing off cement, shaking the windows of the school. It was great.

We move to some sort of bridge underpass. Taufiq Aribowo, who runs a label called MIND BLASTING, starts his set with a Christmas song, and belts into noise. These dudes are the real deal. Nearing the half-way point. My Indonesia is still garbage, but I try not to beat myself up for it. My brain has been drying out from alcohol for a few months now, and I’m starting to realize I can actually remember things. Who knew.

Kombo.

Kombo.

Another motorbike crew assembles, and all I know is we’re heading north to “an improv gig in the jungle.” First, we’ll go swimming, they tell us. A beautiful cavern surrounded by stone, with crystal blue water appears out of nowhere. Indra takes his shoes off and dips them in a smaller pond full of fish, and he starts giggling as they nibble off his dead skin. He beckons me to join, and I happily oblige. They could have left me there, near that pool, and I’d somehow managed to scrape myself together a good life. I doubt I’ll see a swimming hole that nice for a long time.

Jimi Mahardikka runs a residency area, cafe, and art space, the Wangi Art Room, in a village above Jogja. Off a nondescript street I’d never, ever find by myself, you go down a cavernous set of stairs, to an immensely beautiful open air cafe. It’s half way into the woods already. Then you’re led to a lush backyard. This is their playroom. This series, Kombo, is a collaboration between musicians. Today, they had drums, wood-winds, saxophone, keyboard–and there was Rully Shabara Herman.

Leader of Yogyakarta’s ZOO and Senyawa, Rully added in layers of throat singing, gasps and microphone manipulation. “The more I did this type of thing, the more I treated my vocals as an instrument. It changed my mindset. With any sort of (normal) vocal in a band, the instruments make way for the vocals in front of them. If you treat the voice as an instrument, then it should be at the same level. You can do whatever you want with it. Suddenly the whole spectrum is open.”

When I asked him about what people need to know about Indonesia from a musical standpoint, his eyes widened. “People need to know that we have everything here. What we consider as traditional or primitive here, may be viewed in the West as avant-garde, or experimental. To us this is just traditional.” He laughs. “There are so many types. In West Indonesia, you have more melodic styles, more notes and more singing, Arabic influence. To the center, you have Gamelan, this abstract, sort of spacey sound. That’s avante-garde.” More laughter. “Toward East Indonesia you have percussion, more fast, tribal. There are so many things on so many islands in between. Things we’ve never even heard of.”

The jungle buzzes with Rully’s pops, gags, shouts. It reminded me a bit of Ken Ueno with the badass tenacity of Chicago’s Sweep The Leg Johnny. Screaming free jazz, in a forest. They’ve done seven of these so far, and document each one. Hell of a day.

To Die.

To Die.

To Die. Jogja. Indra’s collaborative noise project. From what we’re told, it’s constantly changing form, members, and sound. It’s all an experiment. One of the nicest people we met, was Made Dharma, who fronts an absolutely tough as nails grind-core band, Warmouth. They played last because they’re “too loud”, and fittingly, were cut short near the end due to neighborhood complaints. This happens everywhere.

We met Gisela Swaragita, her band Seahoarse brought some refreshing reverb drenched pop that’ll mix great with all of this chaos.

Today was a travel day.

We trekked clear across Java, south of Jakarta, to a city called Bogor. I like it already. Just a few days here, as on the weekend, there’s another dozen band bill. A birthday party, for a baby–named Nirvana. Nobody thinks this is as funny as we do.

Fleur / Sugar Kane

Fleur / Sugar Kane.

It didn’t seem crazy, to go clear across Java for one show. We needed a good spot to fly to Malaysia anyways. Arc Yellow, the only band I knew of the 27 or so playing, picked me up. It was a birthday party for a baby named Nirvana. The venue, a gigantic event hall. Huge. Sound bounced everywhere as 50 kids sat on the side of the stage. It wasn’t until these ladies got on stage that the crowd got more involved. A cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” Silverchair covers. The ladies of Fleur and Sugar Kane hung around together, later telling me that the one thing they wanted me to do know is that “Muslim is full of peace. A few people’s violent actions do not represent the whole.” I wanted to tell her what was happening in America. I didn’t.

Dilla Sun brought some guitar abuse with their own tunes that reminded me of so many nights in Chicago with Alex White of White Mystery, or Marissa from Screaming Females. So fun. Local booze flowed, and a clear local favorite were up. With that, finally kids launched themselves off the stage, into themselves, and the hard tiled floor. Nirvana covers aplenty. It’s one thing I never got away from, but nobody could really tell me why I saw and heard Kurt Cobain everywhere. Only shrugging their shoulders. Somebody should call Dave Grohl and tell him to bring Foo Fighters for a few DIY shows in Indonesia. These kids seriously deserve it.

Nothing was happening in Jakarta. We dodged the heat, and went nowhere. A quick peek outside our window to constant gridlock confirmed we made a good decision, as we waited for a quick but purposeful Visa run to Malaysia.

Ghora performs at FINDARS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ghora performs at FINDARS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Since we flew into Surabaya and hold American passports, we got no-fee 30 day VISA’s to Indonesia. However, they’re non-renewable. This was fine, as we had quite a few things lined up for KL. We were supposed to once again meet up with Beijing based Noise Arcade, but the tour was cancelled. I also had planned to briefly jump on tour with Borneo based Theo Nugraha, but in the end, we just couldn’t make sense of it from a timing and financial standpoint. With over two months of traveling left before we settled for good in Northeast China, it was time to pick our battles. Instead, we opted for some serious noise at the excellent 無限發掘 FINDARS. Ghora from Singapore. Circuit Trip. Nahash from China. A huge spread of DIY cassettes and CD’s from Aizat Tarmizi, who heads the Noise Mongers label . I purchased tapes from China, Malaysia (including the amazing KL-based JANITOR) rare SETE STAR SEPT collections for the fundraiser record packs I put together on these trips. It was nice to finally meet the wonderfully nice Shaze Bahari. Shaze runs Toothache Splinter, a self-labeled “just for fun” project out of Kuala Lumpur. Video of this is going to be really great. With such a short stint, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Malaysia on this leg of things, but I’ll surely return.

You gotta roll with the punches. With renewed Visa’s, we were scheduled to fly into Padang, Sumatra, for a multiple day “island punk festival”. That was the plan for a long time, and where we were going to meet back up with Anca Manimau, and then follow him all the way back east, hitting new cities along the way. The festival moved the dates to November. While that is a bummer, word is also that there were a few dozen gigs happening back in central Java, so, back to Jogja we went. This definitely was not a bad thing. Quite the opposite, really. Yogyakarta. Surabaya. Surakarta (Solo) were now in our sights once again. I even cleaned up a bit in Malaysia, which was well needed. Round 2 begins.

Cloudburst

Cloudburst.

Death to wussy hardcore. These kids get it, and they’re not messing around. This show was a refreshingly nice mix, and they took over a dusty concrete parking garage near the university to do it. Psyche. Grindcore. Hardcore. Skate punk from Saturday Night Karaoke. They’re the touring band, from Bandung. Frontman Prabu Pramayougha had some blunt answers to my questions. “I’m not good at anything else. I suck at sports. I suck at a social life. Seriously, I’m not emphasizing it. I suck at a social life. People think that I’m weird, because I look like this, and act like this. There’s one thing I can go to. A show. The only thing that I’m good at is music. Seeing shows. Playing shows. Organizing shows.” I raised a few eyebrows at Energy Nuclear, who went from tapping to doom in a few seconds. It was Cloudburst (http://burstingcloud.bandcamp.com/) who started the circle pit. Gnarly, vicious, and even though there were just a few dozen kids, they got spinning quickly, impossible crowdsurfing made real. A serious breath of fresh air to have Indra and Made grab the mic, scream along like they need it to keep breathing.

I focused mostly on video, though dual wielding long enough to snap this. The fear though, man. Flailing limbs and concrete. Always have to be careful. A great night. Hell of a few weeks were coming. It felt good to be back in Indonesia. Like coming home to a place I’ve spent a decade.

Junichi Usui performs at Kombo #8

Junichi Usui performs at Kombo #8.

Back into the woods. Behind Wangi Art Room once again, Kombo 8 began.
Junichi Usui from Tokyo joined in this time. He played a Shō, which if my research is correct, is derived from the Chinese 笙 (Sheng). Each musician played a set of their own, and then they melded together to form an improvised collaboration.
The final performer was a bit late, but got there, then taking the concrete space near the cafe. The sun was down then, so only the lanterns lit the electronics as Junichi came in with improv claps, metal clanks, his violin, the call to prayer over the loudspeaker and the crickets adding even more layers to it all. Another wildly imaginative day organized by Jimi, Satya, and crew. Excellent. You can listen to a recording we put up of Junichi’s live set right here.

Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta kickoff parade

Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta kickoff parade.

Two days ago was Indonesia’s 70th independence day. I was running on zero sleep, because we’re trying to finally get back on a somewhat normal schedule. There was a parade right outside of our place, and the sounds went in one ear and out the other for hours, melding together into a mush. It totally eluded me until I looked outside and saw a large parade. Cursing myself, I grabbed my camera.

I ran downstairs as fast as possible, still in the dorkiest pajamas, and tried to get some good video. Wrong shutter speed. It’s trash, and I wasn’t happy. When Indra told me there was a parade today to kick off Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta, I beamed. I spent half the day mailing our Chinese VISA forms to Chicago via the only FedEx in Jogja. That was fun. Got home, grabbed my gear, and headed out early. Redeemed! Video should look amazing. I’m in desperate need of sleep. Tomorrow, Jogja Noise Bombing hits Festival Kesenian first day with Junichi in tow.

 Jogja Noise Bombing

Jogja Noise Bombing.

JNB, doing it for the children. One more great collaboration with Tokyo’s Junichi Usui. More noise blasting out into the youth of Indonesia’s delicate ears. I suppose it’s lighter than motorbikes. We plan to catch up with Junichi when we head to Tokyo, shooting more b-roll for Episode 2 of the project. For now, it’s back to Surabaya. Another 20 bands bill await us. Another trip nearly ending where we began.
A proper gig from Klepto Opera and the Surabaya Bawah Tanah (Underground) Festival await.

Klepto Opera at Surabaya Bawah Tanah

Klepto Opera at Surabaya Bawah Tanah.

We only have four days before we headed back to Jogja, so we made it count. The scene of Surabaya set up shop next to a giant submarine. This was Surabaya Bawah Tanah (Surabaya Underground). I don’t even know how many bands I just filmed. Fifteen? I stopped counting after the tenth time a kid under the age of 10 jumped on stage and hardcore danced as their dad rocked out. One of them sang backup vocals. So good. Swarms of noise, speed-metal, grindcore, punk rock, rang through the central square. Kids. Young kids. We’re talking seven years old, fist-pump with their dads on stage, and circle pit. It’s not like we’re talking about The fucking Eagles, either. Children get involved here unlike any place I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing. Another all day rager in the books. Thank You, Surabaya!

Lintang and child at the Sonic Art Showcase

Lintang and child at the Sonic Art Showcase.

Once again, the youth of Indonesia gets involved. My face is starting to hurt from smiling all day. Back to Jogja. Kedai Kebun hosts the “Sonic Art Showcase”, a brain burner of live electronics by Andreas Siagian, visual coding from Budi Prakosa, a guitar crafted from a piece of railroad track via Iqbal Ethnictro. Wooden instruments being flicked, forced to echo as bells chime. Mind melting visual witchcraft noise from Patrick Gunawan Hartono. Lintang brings his little girl to twist the knobs on his Javanese Modular. We have some great shows lined up in the next few weeks, all the way up until the night we leave. For now, it’s good to be back.

D.J. Urine in Solo, Indonesia

D.J. Urine in Solo, Indonesia.

Finally, a chance to get to Solo, or Surakarta. We failed grabbing a train. Sold out. A mad dash to the bus stop, and we hop on. Indonesian buses are something to behold. Pick your spot as it makes a hundred stops where people all but throw their bag to the assistant that helps you get on from the side. A man comes up, and you give him your money. Musician’s jump on and off, playing tunes for dough. Vendors hop on to sell food, and hop off. We arrive at, well, we didn’t really know. Just another Bahasa Indonesia phrase given to a taxi driver. Some sort of school, but my phone’s about to die, there’s no plugs in sight, so I fire a few frantic Facebook messages off. Suddenly, a motorbike rolls up, and off we go. A long day, finished by nearly a dozen sets of noise ranging from a dude in a metal cage, hand made wooden instruments that look more fit to bludgeon someone to death, and some nightmare inducing dolls hanging from a tree. D.J. Urine is not your typical D.J. Thanks a bunch, Solo.

Seahoarse

Seahoarse.

We meet up with Seahoarse again. I love these kids. Chilled out pop in a sea of brutal noise, punk, and grind-core. You’ll enjoy it. Now I just have to get the next few films finished, so I can start work on Indonesia while it’s still somewhat relevant. This day, we shot secondary footage to compliment an already formed scene with Seahoarse. You can listen to a live recording captured earlier right here.

After a failed attempt weeks earlier to reach the Prambanan Temple, I finally reached it the next day. Outrageously beautiful. A quiet scene. Highly recommended. If you’re in Yogyakarta, you must go.

Fundraiser record pack

Fundraiser record pack.

I know I say this every time, but those who got an Indonesia record pack from the fundraiser ran for this trip are in for a treat. I wasn’t even done collecting at the time of this photo. Serious jams from across Asia via ZOO, Warmouth, Senyawa, Cloudburst, Arc Yellow, rare collections from Malaysia’s SETE STAR SEPT. Just gobs of good stuff. Cassette nerds who head to Malaysia are in for a treat. I bought another suitcase so I can still retain full use of my arms by the time I finish this trip. Damn, it’s…too heavy, but it must be done. Heaven help me when I hit Japan and Korea again. Thanks so much to everyone who has made these super great so far. For those who got one, it’s going to be a few months yet, and it’ll be coming from China, somehow, but be ready.

Borobudur

Borobudur.

It’s the little things. When Made and crew brought us to the volcano, Made and Tomi were talking to two women from Malaysia. They seemed nice, so I gave them a business card. We sat around for a bit. Took in the view, and headed back on the jeep they got for us. Today I went to photograph and film bits of the Borobudur temple, and upon walking up the steps, it was them. Of all the days I went, all the times, and all the people I could see. What are the odds? Cosmic stuff. This is Ana, she rules Instagram, a great photographer, also running a successful online shop, which I’m finding many people here do. Borobudur was great. In the night time, there’s another Cloudburst and Warmouth show I had been looking forward to for weeks. Three nights left in Indonesia.

A gift from Lifepatch

A gift from Lifepatch.

A gift from Lifepatch. “8-bit mix tape” synth pitch nob twist terror, crafted from an NES cartridge. Right in the feels, man. I headed back to their workshop a final time to interview Budi Prakosa and Andreas Siagian. A great conversation. Thank You, guys. Jogja, you are so damn cool. One day left in Indonesia. Ow. Sniff. Something’s in my eye. Tomorrow: a stacked day, with Kombo 9 in the daytime, and another gig at night. Tonight: dinner with friends. Thank you, Lifepatch. This thing rules.

Red noise machine from Lintang

Red noise machine from Lintang.

A gift from the wizard, Lintang Radittya. You are all too kind. Guess I have to start my first noise band when I settle into Harbin, China.

Indonesia: Thank you so much. For allowing us into your homes, the great conversations, insane shows, D.I.Y. Booze, all those motorbike rides, and amazing generosity, kindness. Easily some of the most mind-bending few months of my life. Easily some of the best work I’ve ever done, from a process level, a scene crafting standpoint. I cannot wait to see how it forms together. It’s going to be a while before any of this footage sees the light of day, as I have two other films to edit and release to keep this project running.

A final night in the jungle for Kombo #9, and we were off. As my friend Dann says, it’s not goodbye, but see you soon. For now, all the best.

Indonesia has something really special on their hands. We barely scratched the surface. If you are touring Asia, I highly recommend you head their way in the dry season. If you’re touring in China, you might be stopping in Guangzhou. In that case, your flight is under $400 if timed right. Any other area of the south, it’s dirt cheap to fly in. Surabaya and Padang have free 30 days Visa on Arrivals for certain passports, so check your local listings to save on a full band entrance. Consider it.

For more information on the who, what, and where of Indonesia’s artists, and hundreds of others, head to on over to The World Underground.

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