Mor­fem rev­els in the monochro­matic

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Between The Lines - WORDS MARCEL THEE

On its third full-length record — and its fifth re­lease over­all — Jakarta rock band Mor­fem does not plan on mov­ing be­yond its fuzzed-out roots. A band clearly made for mosh pits and al­co­hol-filled shindigs, there’s a sat­is­fac­tory non-com­plex­ity to its re­li­able brand of punky grunge.

In sharp con­trast to lead vo­cal­ist Jimi Mult­hazam’s other band — the very suc­cess­ful and very col­or­ful new-wave ravers The Up­stairs — Mor­fem rev­els in the monochro­matic.

The band’s mu­sic sounds ex­actly how one would imag­ine a group in­flu­enced by Nir­vana and The Ra­mones should. There are other musical el­e­ments there, but Dra­maturgi Un­der­ground takes the for­mer’s im­mer­sive abra­sive­ness and the lat­ter’s sense of punchy for­ward mo­tion.

The al­bum’s just-right num­ber of tracks — there are eight songs — sus­tains a crunchy propul­sive qual­ity from the get-go.

The record’s strong­est qual­ity is the ex­u­ber­ant crunch­i­ness of its pro­duc­tion. There’s rarely any­thing more than a guitar-bass-drums-vo­cals com­bi­na­tion — and it works won­ders in giv­ing songs per­son­al­ity. This pretty much what the band sounds like live, or what it would be like in their re­hearsal space.

At cer­tain points, post-pro­duc­tion ten­den­cies crop up — par­tic­u­larly dur­ing har­monies — but they feel like mere hic­cups within the record’s en­ergy-first/ pro­duc­tion-later ap­proach.

Opener “An­abasstudineus” does more than take el­e­ments from Nir­vana’s “Ra­dio Friendly Unit Shifter”, but does a lot with that song’s hyp­notic cave­man pound­ing.

So does the later-era Ra­mones pop-punk bliss of “Ro­man Un­der­ground” and the blis­ter­ing “Me­mento”, with free-float­ing vo­cal­iz­ing that gives it a 1970s punk sen­si­bil­ity. The track also drifts out with the al­bum’s nois­i­est coda, an in­creas­ingly loud static of guitar feed­back and noise atop a dis­ci­plined rhythm sec­tion.

Courtesy of Mor­fem

Courtesy of Mor­fem

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