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The Lo-Fi Legacy Of Indonesia

Shark Move

I remember when I first came across The Rollies' Bad News album, almost a decade ago, behind the counter in a Stockholm used-record store. I couldn't pass up this unique, rough take on the James Brown sound, and I began playing the title track in my DJ sets. It didn't go over well — it was just a tad too lo-fi for what was then classified as "deep funk" — and I soon retired the tune. I forgot the record on my shelves until some years later, when, upon a chance connection with Toronto-based hip-hop producer (and '60s and '70s Southeast Asian music specialist) Jason "Moss" Connoy, he mentioned one of his favorite Indonesian funk bands: The Rollies.

Indonesian! I begged Moss to send me more. He wrangled with the hip-hop-reared beat digger's code of secrecy, but somewhere along the way in this existential battle, he relented. What he sent — in spurts, as Moss is the manic type — drove me mad. Relentless fuzz. Over-the-top, politically charged lyrics. Cranky lo-fi music as close to Rare Earth protégé Power of Zeus as to that of South Korean psych-god Shin Jung Hyun. When Moss sent me Shark Move's "Evil War," I recognized the marching drum-and-bass break: Madlib had recently sampled it for a song he was working on with Detroit-reared drummer, producer and rapper Karriem Riggins. I asked Jason how likely it would be for me to clear the sample with the band, and he laughed and told me he was in direct contact with the leader of the organization, Benny Soebardja.

One thing led to another — the way things often do on the circuitous record-collecting circuit — and, before we knew it, Moss, Benny and I were working on an anthology that would show the breadth and depth of Indonesia's '70s scenes. Along the way, we met up with a young Indonesian expat, Chandra Drews (now based in Holland), and he added a cultural context to the musical analysis we were undertaking. That anthology — Those Shocking Shaking Days — will see release early next year. Here, you can check out some of the great cuts that, for one reason or another, didn't make it onto the anthology. All great, they serve as a proper cross-section of the progressive, and oftentimes underground, '60s and '70s Indonesian rock scenes.

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