Let the train decide

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Written for Producer Notes Sounds From The Corner

Looking back to the past is an important part of moving forward. To introspect is also, conceptually, to forecast. This is actually a bland conclusion that i established five minutes ago. The idea behind L’alphalpha’s Von Stufe Zu Stufe (VSZS) is a picturesque approach to embrace the journey, and the most important, how to digest the learning process. It is indeed inescapable to collectively introspect and predict and when you built your band with bold foundation of friendship. Represented through a moving train, they are trying to reminisce in order to elevate.

What is it that makes second albums the crux of the voyage? Post-recognition from the world, it is the feedbacks. It is the responses from the people, that often make bands re-think, re-adjust and even rarely, move backwards toward their music. Of course, the spooky phrase “second album syndrome” is there for a reason, and I believe that one of the reasons is the increasing quantity of crossroads along the way. The first task – to be heard – is done. Now what?

When the debut came out as a decent result, seconds are about conquering higher mountains. Should we stick to the old tricks? Should we disclose any novelty? Do people love this part? Should we wear these costumes? Should we consider what people say? These are usually the crossroads. Second albums are about deciding what stays and what should move away. While the bonding between members becomes more intimate, problems are also growing inevitably

There are bands that move together as a group of well-dressed assholes, and some of them – like L’alphalpha – stay together as a family. Personally I could totally relate that internally, the band uses VSZS as a time machine, a glass mirror and a crystal ball. Externally, it’s a well-crafted piece of art that all of you should listen.

The opening song “All Birds Are Against Gravity” in the session consists of poisonous hooks, and carries the original colours of the band, which could make you emotionally inundated. This song is a classic twist, that type of song that is not really stand out in the album but it’s just amazingly works when you hear it live. While the second song “Gema” distinct the band from their past, offering genuine diversity of sound and perfectly written arrangement. The song is a solid prove that in this album they thoroughly superintend the mixture of sound layers, both live and in the recording. My new favourite “Terang Tenang” starts with a pop vibe, until it slowly expands, reaches a chamber-y phase and blooms into a busy but calming orchestration.

In the interview, singer Herald Reynaldo claimed “Luka, Waktu dan Manusia” lyrics as super personal but shares relevance with people. But again songwriting in VSZS is far from the usual crappy result from bands with similar genre in Indonesia – garnishing the tunes with senseless phrases. “We were trying to fit all of the words, not just to sound right, but also to feel right,” explained bassist Yudish in the interview when asked about all of the songs with the lyrics in Bahasa. And finally, their decision to put “Tarian” as the last song is annoyingly clever because the song technically closed the session, but its rich harmony, opulent beat and beautiful lyrics popped a new question – at least inside my head: In this stage, what should be next for L’alphalpha? Let the train decide. – Teguh Wicaksono

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