Friday, August 26, 2016
“selamat dating dunia di dalam pikiran” C45
(Pretty All Right Records)
Well, DUH, this came out of Chicago. Or at least via Chicago, because OKTAF O is from Indonesia (if the Indonesian titles didn’t give it away). But to be surprised that Chicago has anything to do with this is to understand your limitations as a music listener. You can either educate yourself on the rich, deep history of Chicago math rock, or you can go throw your brain in a Great Lake for all the good it’s doing you. I wonder if it will float, and if so, how long do you think it’ll take before it gets waterlogged? My money’s on immediate sinkage – if you tie rock to it.
All this brain-sinking talk is sidetracking us from the main issue, and that’s somebody over ol’ Indonesia way has got their hands on some pretty good experimental records, mainly from the Thrill Jockey back catalog. And that’s really, really great news, because nobody – nobody – does anything quite like Thrill Jockey, and if you mention them in a sentence (or a review), you pretty much can’t be screwing around. I’m not screwing around. I absolutely think that OKTAF O digs themselves some of that Thrill Jockey music. But they aren’t content to wallow in a stylistic slough – if they’ve learned anything from the Chicago label it’s that you’ve got to branch out and do your own thing, blaze your own path, carve your own niche, etc., and on into other clichés. I honestly don’t have the first clue what the cutting edge of experimental music coming out of Indonesia sounds like, but I’d like to venture a guess that it sounds a lot like OKTAF O and that OKTAF O is wickedly popular throughout the archipelago.
And OKTAF O gets butts wigglin’, that’s for sure. Selamat… is a full-on rhythmic onslaught, with bass and drums parrying the tracks back and forth at each other like Rod Laver or Boris Becker or Pete Sampras, no one losing control or failing to expertly place a single note or beat. Synthesizers melt down upon themselves above this fray, adding texture and sometimes melody, the icing on the math rock brain-lake tennis cake from Indonesia for which I can’t help but mix metaphors incessantly, mainly because the tape is all over the place in the best possible way. Want me to get real with you? OK. Imagine I Am Spoonbender and Tortoise forming a supergroup. There, I said it. “Tortoise” and “supergroup” in the same review. I hope you’re happy. (I’m not sure how many of you are actually going to get the I Am Spoonbender reference, though.)
Seriously though, edition of 40. That’s not a lot, and until someone picks this up for wider distribution (ahem, Thrill Jockey, ahem), you’re going to have to fight over the scraps of whatever number of cassettes are left. Don’t worry, I have one. But it’s not for sale.