Written for Producer’s Notes in Sounds From The Corner
How far consistency and honesty could take you and your music? We’re living in the era where everyone could make anything. Share everything. Today you could be Miley Cyrus twerking in music awards and next day you are Mother Teresa sending prayers to the poor. There are no boundaries. There is no rule. The Internet has swamped our life. Information asymmetry swallows our identities. We in Sounds From The Corner believe that today, in music, consistency and honesty by far are the only sanctified currency.
But again, how to measure them? They are vaguely recognized, when people today could easily adapt personality. Fortunately, this session shows how. Grunge powerhouse Navicula has come from a long way before standing where they are today. A long bumpy and juicy way that involves a motorbike expedition through a palm oil killing fields in Borneo, campaign to support the unmerciful anti-graft agency, collaboration with Indonesian rock myths God Bless, campaign against Bali land reclamations and an album produced by fucking Alain Johannes, recorded in Record Plant studio Hollywood. They are indeed, road-tested.
This is the band that really walks the talk. For Navicula, it’s been 18 strong years of exclamating their faith via music. While we are accustomed to the self-alienating, pessimist and cloistered lyrics in most Grunge songs, they convert the rage into shrilling, in your face, positive messages. And this is not just some bullshit pretentious love your country lyric that you heard in the radio and morning shows. They literally walk the talk. There are few bands in Indonesia that religiously practice what they said in their songs, and this green grunge gentlemen is definitely one of them.
But for a band like Navicula, no matter how big you become, everything will return to its own roots: the music itself. I could say that Navicula is a band without gimmick. They don’t do something because everyone does it. If they want to do something, it’s because they really care for it. If they sing about the forest, (Harimau, harimau) it’s because they love Indonesia. If they sing about justice (Mafia Hukum), it’s because the law in this country disgusts them. If there’s anything else beside the message, it must be the music. And when they do that for 18 years, two things that could beautifully conclude their journey: honesty and consistency.
In their short visit to the capital city, finally we got some slot to shot a session with them. Arriving a bit late after a performance in a TV station, Tria – the manager – gave me couple of CD’s and a very distinctive souvenir: a home-made, environmental-friendly soap with the band logo on the packaging. It wasn’t a day full of gibberish, they kick-started the session soon after they fully boarded in Syaelendra Studio.
Seeing them live, you could easily misguided by their modest appearance. Behind their instruments, Robi, Dankie, Made and Gembul are simply beasts. “Everyone Goes To Heaven” intensely roared, a perfect opening song built from haunting riffs and diligent cymbal orchestration. Navicula’s music is unmistakably naked, what you see and hear is literally what you get. There are no tricks, no elusive samples whatsoever. It’s raw rock, served fresh speeding with genuine attitude. Second song was “Refuse to Forget”, the tribute hymn for Indonesian human rights hero Munir, who mysteriously poisoned in a flight from Jakarta to Netherlands. Third song, “Bubur Kayu” is another appetizer taken from their Hollywood-approved upcoming album “Love Bomb” that is gonna be physically released in February 2014. This session is recorded also as a part of it. The last song in the session was “Aku Bukan Mesin”, blazing with powerful riffs, head-nodding groove and bizarrely cool ending.
Love Bomb is available today for digital download (iTunes), and you can listen to some of the songs in their official website www.naviculamusic.com. The double album offers an irresistible deal, released under Volcom Entertainment, the first CD contains five song that were recorded in Record Plant Studios and the second one has eleven songs, including a reinterpretation of “Semut Hitam”, one of the songs from Indonesian rock maestro God Bless. In tune with the band’s fight for a better environment, “Love Bomb” will be released in an environmental friendly packaging: the posters and album sleeves are printed with recycled papers, using soya ink.
Despite the formidable performance, this session could be a reminder for us that being honest and consistent with something that you genuinely love could bring amazing things to your life. Plus, it’s a great seepage for Love Bomb, Navicula’s newest album. First time I saw the video, I could immediately feel the bursting energy from them. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sounds From The Corner presents the Green Grunge Gentlemen: Navicula!
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