Morfem revels in the monochromatic
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.