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Samarinda noise music makes waves

Marcel Thee
Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, November 16, 2018 | 08:54 am
Samarinda noise music makes waves

Creative mind: Experimental musician Theo Nugraha from Samarinda has curated the digital compilation, which includes three of his own tracks. (Courtesy of Dina Dinotz/-)

The Samarinda experimental music scene gets a succinct roundup through Seratus Ribu Mix, a free digital compilation featuring the city’s most out-there musicians. Curated by Theo Nugraha, one of Samarinda’s most-productive experimental musicians, the mix is released through independent Bandung label, Seratus Ribu Records.

One of the mix’s main goals is to archive the Samarinda scene, which is far less exposed than its bigger-city equivalents. It features underground names such as Sarana, Jeritan, Astrojo, Sarcapathy, Jeliwan Tok Hudoq and others. Theo himself makes an appearance. Not all the tracks are new, as Theo’s goal was to archive his city’s musical output from 2014 up to today.

The mix is the second in a series, which has and will include other curators from Southeast Asia’s experimental scene, including Inferior Damage (aka Jaya Sempurna of Palembang), Shaze (Within Electric label of Kuala Lumpur) and Dangerdope (Banda Aceh).

Prior to these entries, there was a similar series run by Seratus Ribu, which gained a lot of traction among Southeast Asian experimental music fans. The artwork for the series is created by United States artist David Louis Cintron, and the pieces are fittingly abstract and mysterious like the songs featured.

Focus on Samarinda: The digital compilation Seratus Ribu Mix 6: Theo Nugraha comprises 15 tracks by selected Samarinda experimental musicians.Focus on Samarinda: The digital compilation Seratus Ribu Mix 6: Theo Nugraha comprises 15 tracks by selected Samarinda experimental musicians. (Courtesy of Seratus Ribu Records/-)

“This isn’t just any archive of Samarinda’s noise and experimental music scene,” says Theo.

“A while back, in 2016, [US noise musician] Sean Bossbattle came to Samarinda and curated a compilation of our music. And that made me realize how it might be the only documentation of our music so far.”

This realization inspired Theo to come up with something before the opportunity passed. He picked 2014 as a starting point as he felt that was when the scene began to blossom with a number of musicians starting to create off-kilter music.

“When the opportunity arose to come and do this, I was immediately on board with that particular timeframe in mind. You can see how this is the right choice with the quality of the tracks that I’ve compiled here,” says Theo.

For someone like Theo, who has long experience in setting up shows, curating compilations and exhibitions, as well as seminars and workshops related to experimental music, compiling the tracks for Seratus Ribu Mix was no issue.

“I already had all these recordings in my personal archive,” he says, “Most of these guys are my friends, or at least people I knew personally. So, it was easy to compile. There were a couple of newer artists that I thought were interesting, but they unfortunately did not have the right quality recordings of their work yet.”

Rising talent: Jeritan, a Samarinda-based experimental noise project, has its four tracks featured on the Seratus Ribu Mix 6: Theo Nugraha digital compilation. Rising talent: Jeritan, a Samarinda-based experimental noise project, has its four tracks featured on the Seratus Ribu Mix 6: Theo Nugraha digital compilation. (Courtesy of Jeritan/-)

The tracks aren’t easy to listen to for anyone not yet versed in this kind of music. They range from a quiet hiss and electrical static buzzing to an all-out blitz of screeching noise, referencing everything from the masterful Japanese noise scene to European power-violence experimentalists.

Though the music may sound very particular, it isn’t as self-contained as it may first appear, Theo says. “The post-punk, grindcore, electronic music, even the traditional music scene here, have been very influential in how we have learned to explore sound.”

Discussion of sound and sonic influences dominates the Samarinda noise scene, Theo says.

“Compositionally, all those genres and other sounds impact how we create music — our exploration of noise. They are always intriguing. My friends and I arranged a lot of workshops and discussion forums to talk about these things. We wanted to learn about all the possibilities of sound-creation.”

Theo hopes that the Samarinda archival process will continue even without his involvement.

“There are groups like Sarana and Jeritan, which have performed abroad and received more recognition there than in their home country. We need to archive everything as it happens here. All of it will lead to something greater than what we know right now.”

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To listen to the compilation, visit seratusribu.net

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