Best Albums of 2016
by Wening Gitomartoyo & Ivan Makhsara

Bin Idris <BR>“Bin Idris”

Bin Idris
“Bin Idris”

Perhaps because nothing comes close to this, or that it came almost out of nowhere, this album took everyone by surprise.

The delicate guitars (taking bits of Americana, blues, to folk) and powerful vocals (often in beautiful harmony) awaken feelings that are almost primal. The lyrics are thoughtful forms on how to cope with life, death, and everything in between.

This is a very powerful and fascinating work, one that grabs you by the heart and would leave you longing for more.

♪♫ Listen: “Dalam Wangi” + album stream

Bin Idris on Soundcloud, Twitter.

Dialita <BR>“Dunia Milik Kita”

“Dunia Milik Kita”

The darkest part of Indonesia’s history happened in 1965, when millions were killed without any decent explanation or locked up for years without trials.

Some of those who were jailed wrote songs, maybe to escape from the harsh reality and also to convince themselves of a better life still yet to come. The songs that were considered taboo and could have severe political consequences are now brought to life, being sung by the survivors as well their family members as a choir.

With the help of contemporary musicians for arrangements, these songs are given another chance of life that so many of the victims didn’t get to have.

♪♫ Listen: “Di Kaki-kaki Tangkuban Perahu” + album stream

Dialita on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Eva Celia <BR>“And So It Begins”

Eva Celia
“And So It Begins”

The daughter of a living Indonesian jazz legend (Indra Lesmana), Eva Celia is proudly paving her own way in music.

Her approach in neo-soul is refreshing and astounding, palpable in the way she wrote and composed almost all of her songs in the album.

Her husky voice at times can sound so tender and soulful, delivering lyrics of soul-searching journeys. Her debut here is a dreamy and important album.

♪♫ Listen: “Against Time” + album stream

Eva Celia on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram, www.

Joe Million <BR>“V U L G A R”

Joe Million
“V U L G A R”

Out of the spotlight, down from the underground scene, Joe Million offers an important piece that deserves a standing ovation.

He mixes anger, empathy, and social message on his lyrics while delivering clever sampling that every producer in Indonesia should take note of. His wordplay echoes the notorious rapper that has already cemented his name as a legend, Morgue Vanguard.

Even with that influence, Joe Million stands out as a unique voice. If you like your hip hop street smart and contains provoking thoughts, this album should be the first that comes to mind.

♪♫ Listen: “Si Miskin Omdonesia” + album stream

Joe Million on Soundcloud, Twitter.

KimoKal <BR>“O”


Probably the most important duo on Indonesia’s electronic scene today, KimoKal produces a musical experience like no other.

Kimo Rizky, the music guy, creates a luxurious yet mysterious sound inspired by his exquisite musical taste that ranges from psychedelic, nu-wave, to pure pop. Kallula Harsynta, the voice of the music, sings her heart out with a persistent personality.

“O” (read: circle) is an album of rich and deep textures.

♪♫ Listen: “Lonely Child” + album stream

KimoKal on Soundcloud, Instagram, Bandcamp, www.

Mondo Gascaro <BR>“RAJAKELANA”

Mondo Gascaro

A pop masterpiece that blends soft rock, jazz ballad, and classical music at once. It is so rare an album could be so perfect and at the same time transforms you to far places.

Mondo Gascaro, a former keyboard player and mastermind behind the well-respected indie band SORE, works his charm through the album and the result is so delightful that it will last decades after it has been done.

♪♫ Listen: “A Deacon’s Summer” + album stream

Mondo Gascaro on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, www.

Raisa <BR>“Handmade”


The mainstream pop music in Indonesia is alive and well. “Handmade”, the third album from the most popular female artist in Indonesia, confirms that statement.

Raisa raises the level made by herself with a stunning album based on pop, soul, and R&B. The music is subtle on the background, while the vocal arrangements show her strong sensitivity. Once you listen, you cannot stop.

♪♫ Listen: “Kali Kedua” + album stream

Raisa on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

The Trees and The Wild <BR>“Zaman, Zaman”

The Trees and The Wild
“Zaman, Zaman”

The sophomore album from one of the biggest indie rock band in Indonesia feels like a long adventure in an underground tunnel, only to find there is no light or whatsoever at the end of it. It is majestically dark and mercilessly bleak.

The band, who’s been working on the album for the past seven years, chose to bury the past behind and hiding in the wall of sound, repetitive rhythm, and ambiguous lyrics. A very important album.

♪♫ Listen: “Zaman, Zaman” + album stream

The Trees and The Wild on Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud.

V/A “Aransemen Ulang Lagu Orisinal Tiga Dara”

V/A “Aransemen Ulang Lagu Orisinal Tiga Dara”

A collective effort on restoring an Indonesian classic musical from 1955, “Tiga Dara”, is accompanied by a fresh take on the songs.

Contemporary singers and musicians lend their fine abilities to tweak and adding more to the jolly and witty tunes of the past.

The result clearly shows the deep appreciation to the original artists combined with a modern touch that enhances just the right nuances.

♪♫ Listen: “Tiga Dara” + album stream

“Tiga Dara” in Wikipedia.

V/A “Dentum Dansa Bawah Tanah”

V/A “Dentum Dansa Bawah Tanah”

Translated loosely into “Underground Dance Booms”, this album compiled by Pepaya Records brings together new and impressive names in the dance scene of Indonesia.

Tiring and predictable beats are nowhere to be found here. From the contemporary chillwave to the electro-ridden tunes, they make us excited for what’s to come.

♪♫ Listen: whoosah – “Elevator Music”

Studiorama on Facebook, Twitter, www.