SEA Absolute Indie Compilation

Release Date: October 18, 2011
Label: Music Services Asia


  1. The Girl — Dr. Dog
  2. About a Friend — L’Alphalpha
  3. Supercool — The Dorques
  4. Composition #3 — B-Quartet
  5. Everyone Else — The Universal Moment
  6. The Start of Us — Noughts and Exes
  7. Ke Kromom Ta Ke Djah SPACE REMIX — The Cambodian Space Project
  8. Roman Ketiga — White Shoes and The Couples Company
  9. Mood Be4 Storm — Cho Sai-Ho – 3:06
  10. Goodbye my Friends — Orange Grass
  11. 4 Walls — 9 Maps
  12. Starlight — Silverbus
  13. Singing in Bars — Little Fox
  14. Kiss your Eyes — The White Eyes
  15. Malino — The Trees & The Wild
  16. Stereolab — The Heart Foundation
  17. Velvet Tiger — DP
  18. Big Bad Drummer — Zebra and Snake
  19. This Wasted Heart — Tenderfist
  20. The Great Glass City — They Will Kill Us All
  21. Aqua Assault — Muon
  22. The Merry Barracks — Deerhoof
  23. Siti in the City — The Great Spy Experiment
  24. Teenage Love and Broken Heart — Goodnight Electric
  25. Vrijeman — SORE

What is “indie music“, really?

According to Wikipedia, “indie music” (or “independent music“) refers to “an autonomous, Do-It-Yourself approach to recording and publishing” — as a result of “independence from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries.” All this so that artists and musicians may break away from the confines of the invisible hand of the mainstream market, allowing their originality and creativity to take wing and soar.

How well does this indie compilation, which features “the hottest indie bands from South East Asia and international guests,” fare?

As a compilation album, SEA Absolute Indie is value-for-money for sure. Not only does it offer the most up-to-date overview of the indie band music scene in South East Asia — with guests Deerhoof (USA), Dr. Dog (USA) and Zebra & Snake (Finland) — but it also details the backgrounds and  musical influences of each featured artist/band/group — a truly informative resource if you are looking out for the “next big thing (or name)” in the region.

As an “indie music” compilation, this album by and large reflects the mindset of these artists and musicians — that the much coveted “independence” is necessary so that they can compose and play their favorite type(s) of  music, and not necessarily to come up with a brand new sound, or to at least infuse the existing genres with unique musical flavors of the East Asian tradition.

It turns out, then, that this compilation is infiltrated with “the sound of the past” here and there — though mixed and matched across a number of different eras. The more prominent ones include:

  1. Debussy-like impressionist sound intermixed with electronic or Tokyo-Jihen-like eclectic rock  (Mood Be4 Storm, 4Walls);
  2. Unmistakable Beatles-like arrangements with either vocals resembling that of John Lennon (Singing in Bars), or electronic and Brit-pop, Supergrass-like instrumental arrangements (The Girl);
  3. Alternative band sound from the 90s, especially that of The Cranberries (Everyone Else, The Start of Us), The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979 (Goodbye my Friends), Radiohead (MalinoVrijeman), P. J. Harvey (Kiss your Eyes), blended with electronic, Pet Shop Boys-like dance beats from the 80s, classical, or jazz.

That being the case, there are one or two with a more distinct sound — namely Ke Kromom Ta Ke Djah SPACE REMIX and Roman Ketiga, which integrate traditional tunes with upbeat rhythms and classical elements, respectively. The fact that they made an effort to create a sound of a more East Asian origin — their very own origin — deserves commendation indeed.

But the quest for the original East Asian indie music/band sound continues …

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

You can get the SEA Absolute Indie Compilation on iTunes or at Music Services Asia.

US residents and MOG users will be able to check it out.

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