AlbumReviews: 'Sinestesia' by Efek Rumah
The Jakarta Post
Sinestesia, alternative rock band Efek Rumah Kaca's third output, is a classic album. That's a big statement given it's 2015 and taste is getting more and more spoon-fed.
But seriously, no amount of increased commitment or hard work could've made Sinestesia a better record than it is ' it's nuanced and emotional and just a staggering work of art.
Sinestesia, however, is not an event; it was surprise-released at night, with the press-release announcing it only two sentences long. The songs are all named after colors ' red, yellow, orange, blue, green and white ' the color that founding member Adrian (bass), who suffers from a virus that has left him blind, sees when he hears each song.
Each song (or suite) consists of several fragments that segue so seamlessly you'll lose track.
Musically, Sinestesia is a huge record that zeroes in on Cholil (guitar/vocals), Adrian and Akbar's (drums) maximalist tendencies, previously nodded to with their side project Pandai Besi.
Biru (Blue), consisting of songs 'Pasar Bisa Diciptakan' (Markets Can Be Created) and 'Cipta Bisa Dipasarkan' (Creations Can Be Marketed), boasts Efek Rumah Kaca's signature rock sounds with tribal vocals, noise guitars and furious lyrics.
Elsewhere on the album, any traces of Efek Rumah Kaca swerve onto a darker, stylistically ambitious trajectory. Jingga (Orange) ' consisting of 'Hilang' (Vanish), 'Nyala Tak Terperi' (Unrelenting Fire) and the instrumental 'Cahaya, Ayo Berdansa' (Light, Let's Dance) ' seizes you with its post-rock repetitive guitar before bowing down to a solemn dirge sung by Adrian.
Merah (Red) ' consisting of 'Ilmu Politik' (Political Studies), 'Lara Dimana-mana' (Suffering Everywhere) and 'Ada-ada Saja' (Ridiculous); and Hijau (Green), consisting of 'Keracunan Omong Kosong' (Poisoned by Lies) and 'Cara Pengolahan Sampah' (Garbage Management), also boast beautiful experimental compositions; the former having a Middle-Eastern tone to it.
And then behold: Putih (White), consisting of 'Tiada' (Non-existent) and 'Ada' (Existent). This is a song whose sincerity triumphs over its size. Cholil's shattering falsetto cuts through among swaying piano and eerie backing vocals. This is the band's best song.
But it wouldn't be an Efek Rumah Kaca record without Cholil and Adrian's lyrics. It's unfair to nitpick at everything out of context, but there are themes running through this record: a careful but snarky look at politics, some very personal stories, run-ins with death and an optimism emanating from that. Their lyrics waste no time just being pretty.
After a seven-year hiatus, the band has broken its silence with its loudest statement to date. It's a classic record through and through, because it demands your attention and sure as hell deserves it. I don't know what the future holds for this fine collection, but to me, it's perfect, and I hope it is to you too.
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