|Stars and Rabbit — Constellation|
Stars and Rabbit — Constellation (15th May, 2015)♦|♦ Two people who desperately need a partner to interprets each other's minds into music.Location: Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia
Album release: 15th May 2015
Record Label: Lilystars Records under license by Green Island Music, Indonesia.
01. Like It Here 4:21
02. The House 3:50
03. Catch Me 3:37
04. Worth It 3:35
05. Rabbit Run 2:58
06. Cry Little Heart 4:07
07. I'll Go Along 2:53
08. You Were The Universe 3:29
09. Summer Fall 4:47
10. Man Upon The Hill 3:38
11. Old Man Finger 2:24
℗ 2015 Green Island Music
♦ Elda Suryani (singer, songwriter) |
♦ Adi Widodo (guitar, arranger) |
♦ One listen to Constellation, Indonesian indie folk pop duo Stars and Rabbit’s debut studio album, will never be enough. These 11 solidly–produced tracks from guitarist Adi Widodo and singer Elda Suryani are enigmatic, charming, childlike, imaginative, unforgettable and more. The two old friends first joined forces in 2011, their combined musical influences including primarily British and Icelandic artists known for pushing creative limits and pioneering sound art: Sigur Rós, Coldplay, Radiohead, Emiliana Torrini, Imogen Heap, and Sia to name a few.
♦ The result of these influences are clear in Constellation where the songs’ textures, emotions and dynamics grow and develop, sometimes starting with childlike charm, then building to a roaring intensity. Ranging from haunting acoustic Appalachian style, to heavy, driving blues rock, the songs incorporate mystical slide guitars and strings, delicate chimes, dark cellos and heavy bass. Suryani’s childlike voice floats over top with a distinctive edge reminiscent of Björk: there are no limits on what she chooses to do, stretching syllables, vocalizing wordlessly, floating melody lines in the pure enjoyment of singing. This full album, releasing digitally May 15, 2015, is the next brilliant step for Stars and Rabbit after the 2013 release of their first EP, Live at Deus.REVIEW
♦ For those of you whose exposure to Indonesian music has been seriously limited to the gamelan recordings in Asian Music class, you have no idea as to what you’re missing. Modern Indonesian music, particularly among its independent acts, is rich, vibrant, and more than a little intriguing.
♦ One such example would be the sound of Stars and Rabbit. This two–person act is made up of vocalist Elda Suriyani and guitarist Adi Widodo. Individually, they’re stellar: Suriyani’s soft, whispery, little girl voice is enchanting; you will find yourself thinking of Bjork during her early years with the Icelandic band The Sugarcubes, perhaps a little of a much younger Tori Amos during her Cornflake Girl period; there’s also a rich, sometimes growling rasp to her voice that calls to mind old–school chanteuses such as Eartha Kitt. Widodo’s guitar–playing is easy on the ears; somewhat restrained yet you can feel the musician’s sentiments through the rhythm, the melody. Together, they are unusually dynamic: the sound is a little whimsical, somewhat eerie to the uninitiated listener. But paired with wistful lyrics that call to mind quiet days spent engaged alone with one’s thoughts, the end result is fascinating and is bound to pique a listener’s curiosity.
♦ Constellation, Stars and Rabbit’s newest album, spreads that dynamism through eleven tracks. Mostly ballads, the album nevertheless exudes an energy all its own; each song seems to have been written with an edgy sincerity, raw emotions coming into play through the intensity of Suriyani’s singing. Widodo’s strumming a soft counterpoint serves as a backdrop for lyrics that tell interesting, poignant stories. The feel is intimate, bordering — pleasantly, if I may state here — on slightly voyeuristic: listening is like catching a glimpse into a friend’s journal: deeply personal, honest, compelling.♦ Certain tracks stand out for one reason or another. Cry Little Heart features a lover torn between adoration and contempt for a partner, with the dichotomy between the two extremes threatening to rip the narrator apart; yet the speaker/singer is so caught up in the situation and unable to walk away. You Were the Universe, on the other hand, is a forlorn–sounding ditty at first; yet as it builds up to a crescendo, you could hear the narrator’s strength — and the pathos becomes a battle–cry for moving on and starting over.
♦ The cheerful, playful, folksy intro of Rabbit Run is a pleasing contrast to this. Your story is my story, Suriyani sings. My story is my story. The bright, rambling rhythm makes this particular tune a great thing to play on a morning run, a quick ramble or hike. It has this uplifting vibe that, really, makes one feel alive.
♦ I would recommend Constellation — and the bulk of Stars and Rabbit’s repertoire — not just for the indie–inclined. This is music for the thinkers and the dreamers: those of us who live with our hearts on our sleeves, those of us who believe in the power, in the magic of raw emotion. ♦ https://malishvish.wordpress.com/REVIEW
♦ Stars and Rabbit are Indonesian duo Elda Suryani and Adi Widodo. They call it folk pop, but they’ve spent their several years together molding something far more interesting than that label suggests. It isn’t enough to call it indie, and quirky sounds overly dismissive. Creative and charming seem safe. Constellation is a full–length showcase for that creativity, expressed through an engaging blend of genres and bucolic soundscapes, and charm, which runs deep into the instrumentation but is undeniably led by Elda’s vocal. She’s a Bjork–like ingénue delivering light, cruisy pop of Bic Runga’s ilk.
♦ “Like it here”, “Cry little heart” and “You were the Universe” are on the more conventional side, voice leading guitar supported by strings and light synths. But the compositions are mature and there remains plenty of interest in the lyrics, which are charismatically exposed, and the musicianship, which is consistently creative but subtle and understated — never clashing, always enhancing. Even “Worth it”, which is basic nod–along pop with some nice progressions, could easily have become a twee ode to “baby eyes” but nicely cascading vocals and sophisticated performances steer it safely clear.
♦ Other tracks have the power to transport the listener, like the unexpectedly reggae–styled “Catch me” where piano and bass reign, and where the plaintive refrain “will you catch me, will you let me? won’t you, I want you to” crosses over into adorable territory. “Rabbit Run” also has an oceanic flavour, this time Hawaiian, despite its pastoral title. And “Summer Fall”, the most epic track on the record, brings together warm strings, an interesting bass line, sensational synths and an uplifting chorus to successfully convey the changing of the seasons.
♦ But there’s more. “The House” begins as straight–up folk, with plucked guitar and a 2/4 stomp, before some haunting wailing that could almost have involved Nick Cave — and, the icing on the cake, some excellently Moog–like surprise synths. “Man Upon the Hill” also adds grunt in one of the record’s few moments of ire, while “I’ll Go Along” explores a rhythmically unconventional approach to this genre’s favourite 6/8 time signature.
♦ Constellation is a thoroughly professional production, recorded and mixed over a period of time at studios around Jakarta before being mastered in London. Stars and Rabbit have displayed their confidence and apparently demanded trust, and they’ve received precisely the amount and type of support needed to turn out something special. It’s a pleasant surprise to hear something truly world class out of Indonesia. ♦ This is a career I’ll watch with interest. ♦ http://undergroundhk.com/
|Stars and Rabbit — Constellation|