29 Nov 2022


This is an amazing piece of Indonesian history. The compilation journeys to the origins of the country’s contemporary recording industry.

Soundway compilation celebrates birth of modern Indonesian music

A press release for the compilation explains:

“Modern Indonesian music of the 1950s & ’60s incorporated sounds from around Southeast Asia but in reality, Indonesia at the time was still a fairly insular place, until in 1965 a huge political upheaval occurred and President Soekarno was overthrown.  Based mostly in the capital city Jakarta, musicians from around the archipelago were adept at assimilating elements of Javanese, Sumatran, Malay, Chinese, Arabic, Hawaiian, American, British, and Indian music, to create cultural hybrids across a variety of local, national, and international genres”.

'Soundway Records’ newest compilation journeys back to the origins of Indonesia’s contemporary recording industry, featuring 27 archive tracks that paint a vivid picture of the state-sponsored sounds crafted to help galvanise a sense of identity in the nation’s formative years.

‘Padang Moonrise: The Birth of the Modern Indonesian Recording Industry 1955-1969’ presents a section of handpicked tunes based on traditional songs from all corners of the archipelago’s 17,000-plus islands and 1300 distinct ethnic groups. After gaining independence in 1945, the Indonesian government were tasked with finding ways to consolidate the geographically disparate nation, incorporating a new language and new ideas of national identity.

Drawing on influences from regional pop music, Islamic Gambus, Javanese & Balinese Gamelan and Kroncong, state-sponsored musicians and arrangers re-imagined the far-flung forms with elements of jazz, Afro-Latin music and instrumentation, alongside vocal harmonies influenced by American doo-wop and rock & roll. Traditional songs from Java, Sumatra, Bali and beyond were reformed by the groups, and the unique blend of styles and sounds that resulted were barely known outside of Indonesia until the resurgence of interest in vintage international sounds helped to shed light on some of these esoteric recordings..' -Soundway

Another phenomenal history lesson from Soundway, "Padang Moonrise" tells the story of modern Indonesian music, bringing together recordings that fuse gamelan, regional pop and folk, and kroncong, with jazz, doo-wop, rock 'n roll, and Afro-Latin sounds.

'Back in the 1950s and '60s, the Indonesian music industry began to grow, sponsored by the state to bring together a diverse group of 1,300 distinct ethnic groups under a new language and fresh culture that aimed to unify 17,000 islands, including Java, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Guinea. Western rock 'n roll music was considered decadent by the Old Order regime, and bands trying to import the style were subject to prison sentences (one such punishment was handed out to the Beatles-inspired Koes Plus in 1965), but the sounds still made it into the Indonesian musical lexicon, often via the Netherlands, where repatriated Indonesians would hear American and British music on local military radio stations. Most of the new pop however was combining elements of music closer to home: Javanese and Balinese gamelan, regional folk sounds, and music made with the gambus or kroncong. Rooted in Muslim identity in Indonesia and the surrounding area, the gambus is a lute-style instrument that's carved from a single piece of jackfruit wood, while the kroncong is a ukelele-like instrument and genre that developed from Portuguese music imported by sailors in the 16th Century.

These sounds might feel disparate even now, but the compilation is surprisingly coherent; the recording techniques no doubt helped create a sense of unification between the vastly different artists and troupes, but there's also a few elements that connect each track. Early Indonesian pop music isn't widely known outside of the archipelago, so hearing these recordings is a revelation. They sounds stunning - this isn't a set of crackly radio recordings of the kind you might find on a Sublime Frequencies disc, Soundway have done a bang up job of making sure these ones sound as punchy as they must have decades ago. And while the material can be hard to place, some of the tracks slide into an ethereal zone that harmonizes with library music and experimental sounds that wouldn't emerge in Europe for decades later. Fab.' -Boomkat

Various – Padang Moonrise (The Birth Of The Modern Indonesian Recording Industry ⋆ 1955-69)

Label: Soundway – SNDWLP151
Format: Digital, 2 x Vinyl, LP, Compilation Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM
Country: UK
Released: Nov 25, 2022
Style: Pop, Keroncong, Rhumba, Indonesian Music 

1. Orkes Teruna Ria - Bulan Dagoan 3:17
2. Yanti Bersaudara - Gumbira 2:23
3. Orkes Suita Rama - Tepui Tepui 3:08
4. Band Nada Kentjana - Djaleuleudja 2:55
5. Orkes Lokananta - Nganggo Teklek Nang Krikilan 3:06
6. Orkes Teruna Ria - Budjang Talalai 3:36
7. Orkes Kelana Ria - Ya Mahmud 3:12
8. Orkes Teruna Ria - Geleang Sapi 3:19
9. Zaenal Combo - Ampat Lima Dalam Djambangan 3:17
10. Zaenal Combo - Seruling 2:49
11. Orkes Kelana Ria - Sojang 2:22
12. Mus D.S. - Neleng Neng Kung 2:57
13. Orkes Gumarang - Malin Kundang 3:06
14. Orkes Tropicana - Pantjaran Kasih 2:19
15. Orkes Teruna Ria - Tak Ton Tong 2:45
16. Orkes Lokananta - Tari Bali 2:51
17. Orkes Kelana Ria - Emplek Emplek Ketepu 3:05
18. Mus D.S. - Ahai Dara 2:26
19. Orkes Kelana Ria - Semoga 2:21
20. Zaenal Combo - Kaden Sadje 3:03
21. Orkes Irama - Gendjer Gendjer 2:39
22. Orkes Teruna Ria - Modjang Parahyangan 3:40
23. Orkes Sendja Meraju - Bubuj Bulan 2:42
24. Mus D.S. - Tautjo Tjiandjur 3:22
25. Nada Kantjana - Nelengnengkung 3:24
26. Ivo Nilakreshna - Ka Huma 2:33
27. Zaenal Combo - Tandung Tjina 2:22