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Jakarta Post

Efek Rumah Kaca: warming up after long absence

  • Felix Dass

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 7, 2015   /  09:34 am
Efek Rumah Kaca: warming up after long absence

Courtesy of Efek Rumah Kaca

Some 32,000 downloads of their new hit within just half a day of its release is probably a good indicator that pop connoisseurs Efek Rumah Kaca have been sorely missed by their fans.

They'€™re back with a new single, '€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€ (The market can be created), their first for a few years.

'€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€ is the lead single of Sinestesia, the band'€™s upcoming third album.

'€œWe finally finished two songs for the new album in early June. When we have the chance, why not release a new single for everyone?'€ said Cholil Mahmud, the band'€™s front man and main songwriter.

'€œThe band actually really wanted to finish the album faster but we failed to do so.'€

Efek Rumah Kaca released their groundbreaking self-titled album back in 2006 and it was later followed by their sophomore album Kamar Gelap (Dark room) in 2008. There has been no new material released since then '€” until now.

The in-between period was filled with busy days on stage and dealing with some non-music related issues, such as the declining health of bass player Adrian Maulana'€™s eyes and Cholil'€™s departure to study in New York. The third member of the band is drummer Akbar Faisal.

Their success in the music scene with single '€œCinta Melulu'€ (incessant love) from their self-titled album earned the band widespread support, allowing them to push artistic boundaries while keeping their loyal fans.

The mature Kamar Gelap was much bolder. Through the album, the band filled a gap in pop music where their witty, yet super serious, lyrical theme blended well with simple Indonesian pop music.

The band is also political '€”they'€™ve written songs about LGBT issues and corruption as well as touching on loneliness and even global economy challenges in '€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€.

'€œThe new album will see us moving in a new direction with our production,'€ Cholil said.

For the upcoming album, Sinestesia, Efek Rumah Kaca is taking a fresh approach to recording; they enter the studio with none of the songs actually completed and ready to go.

'€œThey were all sketches. We did the final version inside the recording studio. It'€™s kind of different to the previous two albums where we already had prepared songs to record and had played them a couple of times in rehearsals,'€ Cholil said.

'€œWe also want to experiment with our musical journey by making longer songs than we used to back then. We'€™ve been thinking about this for a long time now '€” about how to make songs that are not dominated by vocals. Every time we hear friends from the scene come out with longer songs with fewer vocals, we'€™re envious. They make us jealous, so this is our payback time.'€

This process takes a long time to complete. The whole recording aspect is inching closer to the finish line with post-production underway.

Sinestesia will comprise six songs with a total playing time of 65 minutes. That means an average of nearly 11 minutes for each song.

'€œThe longest will be 14 [minutes] while the shortest is eight minutes,'€ Cholil said.

For example, the current version of '€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€, which has been circulating for free on the Internet, is a radio edit under four minutes long. The original version that will be included on the album will be around nine minutes long.

'€œThose six songs are actually a representation of Adrian'€™s interpretation of colors when he hears the music. Despite his declining health, he'€™s still doing the bass line for Sinestesia. Well, he'€™s physically healthy but his sight is at a low point. But he'€™s the one who contributed the most to Sinestesia. He wrote songs and lyrics too,'€ said Cholil.

This condition has been forcing Efek Rumah Kaca to play on stage without him for the last couple of years.

'€œIt'€™s one of the challenges we have to deal with to make Sinestesia a complete whole.'€

When asked when the wait for Sinestesia would be over, Cholil declined to be specific.

'€œDon'€™t wait for it. But we'€™re working on it,'€ he said.

'€œHopefully we still have the same spirit to depart from our comfort zone and to keep on experimenting with and exploring our musical direction without having to worry about being left behind by our listeners.'€

Efek Rumah Kaca carries on with their musical journey, staying true to the strongest line from '€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€: '€œKami hanya akan mencipta/segala apa yang kami cinta (we will only create/everything that we love)'€.

For music lovers, the wait is not yet over for Sinestesia, which hopefully, will be another great thing to come from the independent music scene.

*) More details on '€œPasar Bisa Diciptakan'€ can be found at

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