Friday 3rd of October: I Know You Well Miss Clara
It was one of those evenings, highs, lows, aches and laughs.
The aches come from my walk through the back streets of the SBCD (the so-called Golden Triangle) to the Pacific Place Mall … a monument to excess and nonsensical consumption. I’m out of the habit of walking and later, back home in bed, I woke up a couple of times with cramp in my shins.
The absolute low comes courtesy of @America, the “high-tech” cultural centre on the third floor, an incredible example of paranoiac palaver. You have to go through three (3!) body scans within a narrow length of three metres, and your belongings are confiscated and locked in a clear perspex box. I wanted to take in a notepad and pen, my camera, and a CD of recordings to give the lads, and I’d taken a clear plastic bag to carry them in. I wasn’t allowed to take the plastic bag because “the embassy says you can’t take plastic in“.
So how come they retrieved and returned to me the plastic pen that I’d dropped? WTF, eh?
The staff are Indonesian … all very polite and trained in how to say “Have a nice day” and smile politely, a standard measure of gross insincerity. The last time I went through that was with a friend, and we gave up on the gig because of the local cultural insensitivity and ill-thought out procedures shown.
I’m a great admirer of IKYWMC, and praised their first album Chapter One and later interviewed Reza Ryan, the composer and guitarist, for the Jakarta Globe, I knew I owed it to the guys to actually get to see their set in full. We had met up last year at a not very well organised Rock Lingers where their set had to be reduced to about twenty minutes and briefly this past July when MoonJunistas gathered to welcome head honcho Leonardo Pavkovic to Indonesia for his umpteenth visit.
The auditorium is small and compact with carpetted steps and bean bags for seating with a good view of the stage. I’d like to say that it was comfortable, but it wasn’t. Whereas the Jakarta government has issued a regulation stating that the minimum temperature setting should be 24/5 Celsius (72 Fahrenheit), I froze in @America’s sub-Arctic settings, and am now battling flu. Dammit, if I’d wanted a cold environment I wouldn’t have come to Indonesia!
But then came the high I’d be waiting for. The group were introduced by one of the staff backstage – literally: she was viewed talking with a microphone on the video backcloth of the stage above the group’s head. I assumed that the auditorium was too cold for her as well …
But the band played, and on the second number introduced their new fifth member, sax player, Anggie Harahap, a fellow student from Yogyakarta Institute of Arts (ISI), On their first album, Australian Nicholas Combe, also from ISI, enhanced the last two tracks. Although Anggie appeared to be a little nervous when he was brought on for the second number, it was apparent that he’d brought another dimension to the group, more than holding his own.
As with Tuslah, another Indonesian group with ties to MoonJune Records, watching and listening to four guys “each going their own way, four differences, sometimes all at once“, here was a rare dynamism which demanded focus. IKYWMC has a fifth ingredient: Enriko Gultom on bass. He’s a statuesque metronome reining in the power, offering order amidst what many would describe as impending chaos, until all, perhaps through telepathic ether, merge into one. A melody would emerge which, with Adi Wijaya’s keyboards to the fore or Reza Ryan on guitar and Anggie’s sax playing in sync reminded me strongly of Hatfield and the North or, in more orgasmic stretches, of Caravan, but without the vocals.
Yes, these guys have taken ‘Canterbury’ music to the next level, and I can think of no higher praise. But it was with the last number, the popular A Dancing Girl From The Planet Marsavishnu Named After The Love (video) that the groove got the audience bopping and the blood finally circulating so that we could warm up – literally.
Afterwards, we socialised, smiled and were able to laugh: if playing @America enables the lads to get a tour Stateside, then who am I to grumble?
Besides, I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks because on the 17th Tuslah will be there.