By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |
Hindia’s long-awaited debut album is finally here. After a string of pre-released singles, Baskara Putra, who is first known to the public eye as the frontman of rock band .Feast, explores his own mind with his latest release. Menari Dengan Bayangan is definitely a close look of Hindia as an artist—an indie pop/rock music album version of the self-portrait painting—conveyed artistically, musically, and lyrically. Baskara mixes the personal and the public in this debut record.
The album starts with “Evakuasi,” produced by Kareem Soeharjo (also known as Yosugi and BAP.), which he starts by slowly singing “Aku hanya ingin ketenangan / Bukan rumah, uang atau ketenaran” (“I just want serenity / Not a house, money, nor fame”). “Evakuasi” shows Baskara’s struggle with his rising fame, perfectly complemented by Soeharjo’s signature urban composition. His whispery start is elevated by his .Feast-style rage by the end of the song. “Evakuasi” is followed by “Wejangan Mama,” one of the many short audio skits in the album, which tells a brief story of Baskara’s life through his mother’s eyes.
The next song hits deep to me; “Besok Mungkin Kita Sampai” is a sweet reminder that life is not a race and one’s life is not comparable to others. Baskara starts with recounting his life as told by “Wejangan Mama” and telling anecdotes on others’ lives and ends with a reassuring message that life is unpredictable and some things are indeed out of our control. “Jam Makan Siang” takes a similar stance to its previous song, focusing especially on dreams that were broken from societal expectations. This song is the other piece produced by Kareem Soeharjo, mirroring the eclectic samples he drew from “Evakuasi.” The Petra Sihombing-backed “Dehidrasi” follows the two songs, a cheeky song capturing Baskara’s own problems with fame, mentioning all sorts of artistic troubles from free “friend price” commissions to boring interview questions (as the editor for our Sound Check section, I wonder where our publication falls in this stab. Go figure). The song ends with Petra Sihombing’s guitar solo and Enrico Octaviano’s delightful drum solo.
“Untuk Apa / Untuk Apa?” is a song where Baskara reflects on grit—as shown from the song’s epigraph, taken from Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk. The synth sound and the dominant snare reminds us of the emerging 80s-tinged sound in current pop music. The lyrics are a cautionary tale of alienation resulting from overwork, which blends seamlessly thematically to the next skit, “Voice Note Anggra,” where we hear Hindia’s manager, Melina Anggraini, tirelessly giving a laundry list of things to do to Baskara.
The next four songs are a string of previously-released songs that makes sense when put in the context of the album. “Secukupnya,” which we reviewed here, is an upbeat track that lets its audience stop for a while and feel their sorrows. The melancholic core fits well with “Belum Tidur,” the next song. In this duet with Sal Priadi, Baskara starts with a lyrical reprise from “Secukupnya,” along with some lyrical references from “Untuk Apa / Untuk Apa?,” “Jam Makan Siang,” and even Sal Priadi’s single “Amin Paling Serius.” “Belum Tidur” is for those up late in their bed and can’t seem to go to sleep for some reason; the constant piano in the background adds to the sullen mood and creates a liminal space on its own—a space of sleeplessness and loneliness.
After the melancholic break, “Belum Tidur” is followed by “Apapun Yang Terjadi”—an upbeat song with cheeky guitars and synths reminding us of video game music. “Apapun Yang Terjadi” tells a story about a protagonist’s past lovers, focusing on those wonderful memories that might be momentary, however, Baskara wants us to focus on the fact that, yes, it did happen. Its outro, “Ukuran sepatumu, pantangan dan dietmu / Masih berguna di masa lalu” (“Your shoe size, your restrictions and diets / are still useful in the past”) could mean two things—either it’s a reminder that you should keep all the memories of those people who left your life in the past and the past only, or you dwell in the joy that these memories are still valid somewhere else. In the context of the album, it probably means closer to the latter, since “Apapun Yang Terjadi” is followed by “Membasuh,” a guitar-driven reflective duet with Rara Sekar that we reviewed here.
The next song is “Rumah ke Rumah,” where Baskara reflects upon going from “home to home” and telling a story about the women in his life. At first, this song might seem like another “thank u, next,” however, Baskara adds his own prayers, hopes, and dreams to the subjects who have influenced his life, making this song sound a bit more wholesome than thank u, next. The song is followed by “Mata Air”—this song’s instrumentation and vocal composition remind me of an uplifting Christian worship song, indeed. Baskara, Natasha Udu, and Kamga delivers a laundry list of sorrows that unite us as humans, following it with “Mata airmu ada di sini / Mata airmu diri sendiri / Temukan makna hidupmu sendiri / Menarilah dengan bayangan diri sendiri” (“Here is your oasis / You are your own oasis / Find your own meaning in life / Dance with your own shadows”).
The album’s penultimate track is “Wejangan Caca,” which is a recording of hopes and prayers directed to Baskara from his lifelong friend. “Evaluasi,” which we reviewed here, is the album’s closing track—a perfect coda for all the emotional rollercoaster Baskara wrote in the album.
A picture taken from the promotional shoot of this album shows Baskara with a bandaged, bloody right ear, which he explicitly said is a reference to Vincent van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.” Much like van Gogh’s painting as a self-portrait, Menari Dengan Bayangan is Baskara’s own musical self-portrait that seem specific to Baskara at times, yet universally relatable in some of its essence.