It’s not the bpm. It’s not the style. It’s the soul of the humans making the music that matters – and that might be what you’re missing. So grab this Indonesian-Chinese collaboration for an urgent cause, to heal a sick world, figuratively and literally.
I just have a heap of artists here to dig into, I have to admit – I knew Ocean Lam from Hong Kong on this one, plus of course Arjun Vagale from India, and recognized a few of the HK and Indonesian names. But wow, this thing is crisp, trippy, and hard straight out of the gate – including the brutally hypnotic HWA track they chose to feature from a talented artist from Taiwan. You’ll get some gorgeous, contemplative ambient cuts and chilled-out cyber-future downtempo mixed in the bangers, too. It’s just a beautiful soundtrack for diggers or headphone listeners, either one.
And there’s some experience and deep-rooted connections that went into this one. It’s a meeting between Hangzhou, China-based heavyweight Don Wang who runs Shanghai’s Bassis, and Jakarta’s @weareunderradar, who, typical of today’s tough Indonesian hustle are a streetwear line and cultural collective / international music force. UNDERRADAR in turn is a collab between DJ Ecilo and fashion/creative director Trisatria. Ecilo has been busy as one of the few southeast Asian techno artists to jump over to larger international recognition – think releases on Arts and Planet Rhythm, and most recently the news that they were picked up by Jeff Mills this summer.
Together, they pulled together a diverse selection of established and emerging artists from across southeast Asia, as this region increasingly work across mind-boggling distances (a lot of them full of, uh, ocean) to forge some shared identity.
And the music is great. There’s neither the heavy conservatism or thirsty “please play me at your rave” extreme here – just fresh, earnest grooves.
There is a plan to support a good cause, too – evidently focused on medicine in Indonesia. As the release producers told Mixmag Asia:
Although a charity has yet to be finalised, we have confirmed with the team at UNDERRADAR that 80% of the proceeds will be donated to individuals in Indonesia, and not through an international organisation for fear of inefficient use of the funds.
Tons of gems in there – like that instant hit from HWA or the fierce Tanamur track. The lineup:
Ecilo ( Indonesia )
Arjun Vagale ( India )
Ma Haiping ( China )
Just Mike ( Indonesia )
HWA ( Taiwan )
Firboy ( Indonesia )
Ocean Lam ( Hongkong )
Mr Ho ( Hongkong )
Impulsive Behaviour ( Indonesia )
Notion A ( Malaysia )
Toro ( Indonesia )
Tanamur ( Indonesia )
Unjin ( Korea )
Nolens.Volens ( Thailand )
Henry Martin ( Indonesia )
Romi ( India )
Basic Soul Unit ( Hongkong/Canada )
Andra ( Indonesia )
Alinep ( Philipine )
You can dig through their Instagram for profiles of more of the artists, Bandung to Hong Kong. Just a few highlights to get you started adding to your bookmarks / Bandcamp wishlists and follows –
Definitely check out Ocean Lam:
Bandung is really where it’s happening these days on the island of Java – well, even Yogyakarta isn’t as inexpensive as it once was, so you’ll notice more names coming out of Bandung. Indonesia is a mind-bogglingly diverse and far-flung array of islands itself, with a range of musical ideas to match, but it’s also worth saying that they’ve got techno there, too. That not only means folks like our friends Gabber Modus Operandi in fact dabbling a bit in gabber (gabberdabbling?) and taking their own styles to the house of Berghain, but also some straight-up Detroit-but-in-southeast-Asia vibes, as Mixmag Asia correctly identifies this stuff.
Just don’t expect the kind of overly-straight-laced purism that in its poorer moments can stifle the European scene. The young folks are mixing and matching styles – which, ironically, is closer to 90s music scene than a lot of techno’s current state anyway. And the mixing and matching works – check for instance Toro.
Don’t miss Tanamur, too, while we’re in Bandung:
Another absolute legend is Hong Kong native Basic Soul Unit, with equally diverse and deep musical fluency both as DJ and producer. And yeah, perhaps an unexpected twist of all this distance communication we’ve been doing lately is we can talk a bit about scenes not just in the geographically local but related to diaspora and immigrant identities many of us have accrued. We live in a world where location is fluid – or was fluid, and then we all got a new perspective on that with new travel barriers and challenges. (Uh, hi Mom and Dad. See you soon, I hope.)
Let’s also mention Korea, especially since I’m about to do a distance workshop with artists in Seoul and thanks to a Seoul-based collective – and here’s Unjin, whose reputation precedes him in techno but is also a brilliant ambient artist. (Well, I guess if Ecilo is Jakarta’s answer to Jeff Mills, that makes Unjin Seoul’s Luke Slater? But… let’s not stretch this. Ignore my rambling – as always – and go check the music.)
Oh yeah, and about HWA – shout out to Taipei: