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'Choice': Indie rockers Noirless keep it emotional

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, April 26, 2019  /  09:03 am
'Choice': Indie rockers Noirless keep it emotional

Choices: Indie rock oufit Noirless wants to create music that is not complex musically but has depth in its lyrics and sound. (Courtesy of djarumcoklat.com/-)

Indie rock outfit Noirless has been a band for four years, but aside from a few singles, it has not released a record that fans of their energetic live shows can actually hold in their hands.

This changes with Choices, their 5-song EP which is being co-released by local indie labels Sorge Records and Winona Tapes.

Fans of 90s alternative and shoegaze rock will find plenty to delight within the melodic haze that makes up Choices. The EP follows the singles “Indecisive” (2015) and last year's “Better Left Unsaid”.

Emotional: 'Choices', Noirless' new EP, is being co-released by local indie labels Sorge Records and Winona Tapes. Emotional: 'Choices', Noirless' new EP, is being co-released by local indie labels Sorge Records and Winona Tapes. (Courtesy of Noirless/-)

Regarding the EP's title, the band has an explanation.

“In the circle of life, everything is governed by choice,” says Bayu Arifianto, the band's bass player. “Where we are today is the result of our past choices, and where we'll be in the future depends on the choices we make today.”

If the sentiment feels a little hokey, it is simply because the band members really are that earnest in expressing their experiences.

Bayu and his bandmates – vocalist-guitarist Rama Mazaya and guitar player Aryandra Kareem – are twenty-somethings going through a lot of personal shifts in their lives, and the way they have chosen to express it is through music.

“We just want our music to express that reality of 'the things that you do affect your future,” says Rama.

Like a lot of bands, Noirless met each other at gigs. As students in Bandung who were eagerly devouring the sounds of the city's always-lively underground scene, they were drawn to each other immediately.

They quickly settled on the name Noirless and came to an agreement that they wanted to create music that was not complex musically but had depth in its lyrics and sound. They wanted to, as Bayu says, “create hooks in every song”.

The band's earliest point of reference were the eclectic sounds of the American groups Swervedriver and the Flaming Lips.

Developing a sound they felt was too heavily shoegaze-influenced – meaning too textural and dreamy – the band began to incorporate other elements into their sound including the experimentations of kraut rock music and the aggressive quality found in post-hardcore.

Rama said the band also looked at local indie heroes such as Kubik, Cherry Bombshell, The Milo, Rumahsakit and Pestolaer – groups who were successful in combining elements of 80s and 90s indie pop while singing lyrics in Indonesian.

“We see it as a challenge to bring new elements into the music and to come up with new formula for songwriting,” says Rama.

He said he himself had been looking to Motown music for ideas while his bandmates were deep into the New Wave, R 'n' B and New Jack Swing music.

“We've been honest with saying that we are getting bored listening to the same kinds of music that we play. That signals a change in our songwriting approach,” Rama says.

If there is a common thread that does exist in Noirless' music, it is the element of moodiness the band members say is their calling card.

“Even our band name expresses that tendency to create music that is gloomy and dark, even though all the other elements give it a sense of lightness,” says Aryandra.

The band's sound caught the immediate attention of indie labels, with both Sorge Records and Winona Tapes deciding quickly they wanted to work together to make sure that as many people would hear what the band was capable of.

Yogha Prasiddhamukti from Winona Tapes recalls falling for the band immediately after hearing “Indecisive” in 2016 and thinking that not many bands were offering their same aggressive take on shoegaze.

“Noirless was one of the few names which, after hearing them just once, I immediately liked. I also felt like they were kind of underrated even though their music was actually really strong and had potential.”

On the band's side, the members say the labels were the ones they could put their belief in.

“Eky [Alkautsar] from Sorge was always there at our shows,” Rama says, recalling how the label approached them.

The band is incredibly proud of its EP and calls it “an achievement”.

“Even though we really had to push ourselves beyond our capabilities, these five songs […] show just how we are always evolving as a band,” says Bayu. (ste)

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