As the fourth-most populous country in the world, it should be no surprise that Indonesia has a burgeoning rock scene. Unfortunately, given the music world’s tendency to focus its attention on Europe and the US, countries like Indonesia tend to get forgotten about. This is a crying shame, given the talent of musicians like those in MOONER, whose new album Tabiat is a fantastic trip through psychedelic stoner-rock.
Following an enticing bass hook, Tabiat gets off to a thunderous start with the monstrous riffs of Buruh. One of the catchiest songs in recent memory, it is quite a challenge to get the chorus out of your head, and the effects applied to Marshella Safira’s wonderful clean vocals layer the song with a delightfully psychedelic sound fresh from the grooviest 60s dream haze. That psychedelic thread runs through the rest of the album, giving it a heady feel which serves to accentuate the stoner rock on display, exemplified best on songs like Fana or Serikat. It is worth noting here that the group is made up of members from four different bands, namely THE SIGIT, SIGMUN, THE SLAVE, and SARASVATI. From those groups came bassist Rekti, drummer Tama, guitarist Absar Lebeh, and vocalist Marshella Safira respectively, as well as the melting pot of influences that MOONER represents, such as prog acts JETRHO TULL and LED ZEPPELIN, the psychedelic stoner-blues of Imi Hendrix, and the stranger psychedelia of PURSON.
The overall sound is best expressed as a jam session between PURSON and Jimi Hendrix, and it couldn’t be more entertaining to listen to. Lebeh’s talent is indicative of a star on the rise, with deft, skilfull riffs in abundance. His best playing is definitely shown on Buruh, but worthy of note are the three Takana tracks. As instrumentals, they allow all the musicians to show off their skills, but Lebeh’s is most notable: Takana 1 exhibits a meandering guitar solo with serious distorted bite, mixed with traditional Indonesian drumming styles from drummer Tama. Takana 2 is a more bluesy affair in the style of TINARIWEN, a style which the all-too-short Takana 3 follows to round out the trilogy. Vocalist Marshella Safira perfectly embodies the crisp, clean singing required for 60s psych, though her vocals may be more ‘pop’ in style than those of Rosalie Cunningham. Her gorgeous singing is at its most beautiful on Gelar, but the summation of the album’s hazy, psychedelic sound is best expressed in album closer Ternganga. It’s a pacy number, replete with fuzzy guitars, langorous vocals from Safira, and a hefty bassline courtesy of Rekti.
If there is any complaint to be made about this album, it’s that it drags in places. Both Ingkar and Lancang slightly outstay their welcome, causing some pacing issues in the middle of the album. However, both are also excellent, so this is ultimately a minor concern in the face of such a talented display of musical creativity. Lebeh’s riffs are truly excellent, especially on Buruh, and Safira’s vocals are a delight to listen to. Tabiat is a masterpiece of 60s psychedelic-throwback jams, and signifies Indonesia’s rock scene as one which Western audiences could do with looking into more closely.
Tabiat is set for release on December 8th via Outer Battery Records.
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