Street Musicians of Yogyakarta


The killer track in this field-recording compilation is “Kuda Lumping”, side A track 4. Originally written by King Rhoma Irama and popularized by Queen Elvy Sukaesih, the dangdut song turns into an uptempo post-punk version, interpreted by a group of buskers comprises two female singers (the lead singer is also lead guitarist, the other one plays tambourine) and a kendang player. They embrace the anyone-can-do-it idea of nontechnique, the complete absence of production polish, by exploring sloppy guitar sounds with shaman tension, yelping vocals, and tribal jerky percussions. Not remotely aggressive, not overtly intellectual, their street attitude goes really well with lyrics like “..anehnya permainan ini/ orang bisa lupa diri/ dia makan rumput/ juga makan kaca/ aduhai ngeri sekali..” (“the strange thing about this amusement/ the person can become entranced/ he eats grass and also glass/ oh, it’s very frightening.”) They make the whole song new—tighter than tight!—but also highlight what’s so good about the original: repetitive yet catchy melodies in major scale. Recorded live in the street in north end of Yogyakarta circa late 1970s, it sounds like The Raincoats are having fun with homemade DIY instruments, mas-mas akamsi, and cheap local beer! Even Abang Haji himself probably never dreamed it could sound this way.

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Street Musicians of Yogyakarta
Label: Mississippi Records ‎– MR-087
Format: Vinyl 12″ (bonus 7″), LP, Compilation, Reissue
Country: US | Released: 2011
Recorded in Java, Indonesia in the city of Yogyakarta and its environs, between November 1976 and January 1978.

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