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Album Review: SINTAS by Adrian Yunan

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, June 9, 2017  /  09:32 am
Album Review: SINTAS by Adrian Yunan

SINTAS by Adrian Yunan (Adrian Yunan/File)

Adrian Yunan is set to survive through hardships with the gloriously passionate debut album SINTAS.

Released in early June, SINTAS (Surviving) is set to showcase the bass player’s all-encompassing musical talents.

As a bass player and one-third of the politically-inclined indie band Efek Rumah Kaca (Green House Effect), Adrian was riding high on the kind of success that was rare to underground bands.

With the release of their 2007 self-titled debut, Efek Rumah Kaca immediately captured the attention of both underground music fans and their mainstream counterparts.

Embraced by a wider spectrum than their peers, the band utilizes its newfound minor-fame for progressive, political causes and introducing youngsters to information and a consciousness to which they may otherwise have never paid much attention.

But in 2005, things took an ugly turn. Adrian began to lose his eyesight — not completely but serious enough to be worrisome.

Read also: Album Review: 'Rintik' by Pandai Besi

Different doctors came up with various explanations, none of which proved satisfactory.

Somehow, Adrian regained his eyesight — until Efek Rumah Kaca took part in a national tour in 2009, when the disease returned and eventually crippled him.

With all that behind, Adrian wanted to take all his experiences and pent-up energy, and channel them into SINTAS.

“This album truly represents a very personal journey; the sense of unrest and my inner struggle regarding things that happened to me this past six-seven years, from the declining condition of my eyes, my physique, as well as my mental state, to when I reached a turning point,” Adrian said.

The album’s title, Adrian explained, sums up the journey.

The songs conjure up a mature sense of playfulness, mixing whimsical melodies that harken back to the harmonic flourishes of classic Indonesian pop with acoustic-baroque instrumentations.

Adrian brings to the front a far more believable sense of pensive joy and melancholy than many current singer-songwriters still stuck in their acoustic-laden rut of singing about rivers and trees.

Songs like “Komedi Situasi” (Situation Comedy) and “Mikrofon” (Microphone) are almost progressive-poppish in their twisting and turning dynamics and melodies.

The songs were written in various points of Adrian’s journey, from “Tak Ada Histeria” (No Hysterics) written in 2010, to “Alzheimer,” written last year.

“During that time, I was recuperating and had a lot of time to create songs,” Adrian recalled.

Some songs were originally written for Efek Rumah Kaca’s 2016 album Sinestesia, which was named after Adrian’s alleged ability to see colors produced by sounds. These included “Histeria,” as well as “Mimpi Seperti Hidup” (Dream Like Living) and “Lari” (Run).

Adrian’s confidence in releasing a record all by himself also came as the result of his band mates’ support.

Efek Rumah Kaca vocalist-guitarist Cholil Mahmud persuaded him to do so, even inviting Adrian to open his side project Indie Art Wedding a few years back.

For Adrian, his solo music also provided him a chance to experiment with the more traditional formula utilized by Efek Rumah Kaca.

Instead of the usual placements for verse and choruses, for instance, Adrian felt free to move into less-expected places.

“This album is honestly also a process of maximizing whatever limitations I have,” he says.

Adrian relied on a host of musicians to help him with SINTAS, many of whom are part of the usual Efek Rumah Kaca circle, including Rossi Rahardian, Popie Airil, Nastasha Abigail, Muhammad Asranur, Wahyu Mikurason, Elda Suryani (from Stars And Rabbit), Agustinus Panji Mardika, Dimas Ario, Dimas Martokoesoemo, Adink Permana and Wendi Arintyo.

The idea, Adrian said, was to blanket his folk songs with “1980s-like synthesizer sounds.”

He points to musicians and bands such as Simon and Garfunkel, Midlake, Ian Brown, Sufjan Steven, Fiona Apple and Yeasayer as key influences to the album’s songwriting and arrangements.

“I also purposely avoided socio-political issues, because I wanted to differentiate [the album] from Efek Rumah Kaca,” Adrian said.

The experience of the past few years and the completion of the album has given Adrian a stronger outlook on life.

“I realized that my mental state during my break owed plenty to my wife, child and friends. They made me feel happy enough to write songs for them.”