My tour of Java has been so intense I have not been able to find time to write my thank-you’s here. So, some catch-up:
The gig in Surakarata, or Solo as Indonesians more typically call it, was at a sort of punk rock club and featured a line-up of several local “noise musicians.” It was here that I first learned of the extent of “noise music” in Indonesia. Lots and lots of noise music. Many of the older players started out in punk rock, then switched to noise when they felt punk rock became too mainstream.
They don’t call it noise though. They call it “harsh noise.” Really. If you ask one of these guys what kind of music they play, they answer, “Harsh noise.” Even guys who know very little music will know the term “harsh noise.” An Indonesian genre.
There is also a very strong DIY ethic. Many play instruments the build themselves, ranging from fairly simple collections of oscillators and feedback circuits to much more complex instruments incorporating home made electronics to all kinds of “acoustic” devices.
There were four or five people who did brief sets before mine, and I can honestly say I liked every one of them. Those who know me will know that I never say that about festival gigs of any kind, especially electronic music.
What I learned: if you want to hear harsh noise music (and I am not assuming you do), Indonesia is the best place in the world to do so. Skip Berlin, Brooklyn, and Oakland. Indonesia is the place to be.
Fikri Ihansul, from the island of Sumatra, with his extraordinary electro-acoustic instrument:
The scene at the gig was quite opposite what I had experienced in Semarang. In Semarang, some key organizers and also stage performers were female, a welcome change in a n extremely patriarchal country. Here, all the musicians, and the entire audience minus one, were male. Noise music in Solo is a guy thing, straight up.. Felt sort of like an Indonesian punk rock frat party, or ummm, something.