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Top five Indonesian albums of 2018

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, December 21, 2018  /  06:00 pm
Top five Indonesian albums of 2018

Music sales growth in the US was almost entirely attributable to the public's embrace of streaming. Physical sales of vinyl also contributed a 10 percent jump in revenue. (Shutterstock/Delpixel)

It’s been a turbulent year for politics, but the local music scene has continued to have a good time and if these five records could tell us about the state of pop this year, it has been a great ride. These are top five albums of 2018 as selected by our resident music critic Marcel Thee.

1. 'Loanwords,' Kaveh Kanes

The cover art for Yogyakarta-based indie band Kaveh Kanes' second album 'Loanwords'The cover art for Yogyakarta-based indie band Kaveh Kanes' second album 'Loanwords' (The Jakarta Post/Kolibri Records)

Bittersweet 80s melodies and production may not be novel at this point, but Kaveh Kanes' solid songwriting and economical sense of arrangement makes everything here feel sincere. Melodies and lyrics that evoke longing make this a perfect rainy day driving record. Retro in all the right ways.

2. 'In Between,' Jacques Ming

The cover art for 'In Between', the debut from Jacques Ming, the stage name for musician Mirza P. Wardana.The cover art for 'In Between', the debut from Jacques Ming, the stage name for musician Mirza P. Wardana. (The Jakarta Post/Gabe Gabe Tapes)

Very Americana-indie sounding in its self-conscious lo-fidelity hiss, this debut from Mirza P. Wardana, lead singer of dreamy-poppers Soft Blood, is “hip” in all the right ways. Imbued with glazed out soft-pop dreaminess, the warbled-tape texture of 'In Between' sets an immediate mood that may be niche but is undeniably commanding.

3. 'Selected Pieces from HNNUNG,' Nursalim Yadi Anugerah

Nursalim Yadi Anugerah's collection of songs 'Selected Pieces from HNNUNG' is released only on cassette tape.
Nursalim Yadi Anugerah's collection of songs 'Selected Pieces from HNNUNG' is released only on cassette tape. (The Jakarta Post/Hasana Editions)

'HNNUNG' is a chamber opera that amplifies the cosmic dramaturgy of the Dayak Kayaan culture. This tape takes select pieces from the opera, which was performed by the Balaan Tumaan Ensemble and Kerubim Choir utilizing a variety of traditional instruments ranging from kaldii and sape to tenor saxophone and contrabass. The result ranges from drone-y textures to abrasive percussive attacks that shows how Indonesia's avant garde is alive and well.

4. 'Amen,' Rich Brian

The cover art of Rich Brian Imanuel's debut album 'Amen,' released by 88Rising MusicThe cover art of Rich Brian Imanuel's debut album 'Amen,' released by 88Rising Music (The Jakarta Post/88Rising Music)

Indonesia's proudest pop-culture export makes a case for hip-hop seriousness with Amen, which may not be perfect but still features a lot of rhymes and movements (and production) that is easy to embrace. Solid with only a few clunkers, Amen puts Rich Brian Imanuel at the forefront of Indonesia's music scene.

5. 'Deeper Underground,' Kekal

The cover art of 'Deeper Underground', the 2018 album of veteran extreme metal band Kekal.The cover art of 'Deeper Underground', the 2018 album of veteran extreme metal band Kekal. (The Jakarta Post/Hitam Kelam Records)

Still uncannily brutal after a career that began in the early 90s, the extreme metal band Kekal continue to deliver with Deeper Underground. Aside from some modern-metal sounding vocalizing, the record's experimental blending of electronic flourishes and black metal is daring and may offend purists. All the better for it.