‘Djakarta Artmosphere’ DVD Showcases Flawed Indonesian Music Festival
Last year’s “Djakarta Artmosphere,” or simply “Djakmosphere,” music festival had its best lineup to date. So it only made sense that the newly released accompanying DVD would also prove to be a better viewing experience than its 2010’s choppy and rushed predecessor. From better shots of performances to a stronger sense of continuity, the “Djakarta Artmosphere 2011” DVD is a fairer representation of how the festival actually went down. For better or worse.
DVD releases of local live performances are still in their infancy. Undetermined aesthetics and a lack of connection between cinematographers and the onstage production team often results in a perceptible disconnect between the visuals and sound.
Instead of grabbing the most memorable moments and capturing the performers’ energy, many local music DVDs feel akin to watching a sleepy arena act from the cheapest seats on the floor — a montage of stock footage that dulls rather than electrifies. Djakmosphere’s newest live concert film still has some of those flaws, but it compensates by smartly focusing on the day’s better performances.
The festival’s gimmick is a simple yet intriguing one: Get iconic musicians from the past to collaborate with the most interesting artists of today, most from the independent scene. Last year’s lineup included old-school pop-rock titans Koes Plus and jazzy songstress Margie Segers in collaboration with rock ’n’ rollers The Brandals and theatrical singer-songwriter Sarasvati.
Opening with collaboration between husband-and-wife acoustic duo Endah N Rhesa and Segers, the concert film gets off to a good start. Endah N Rhesa’s breezy flourishes make for a natural pairing with Segers’s similar vocals.
The DVD shows them collaborating on two covers — by vaunted Indonesian artists George Leiwakabessy and Charles Hutagalung — which lets both the duo and Segers showcase their styles. The cinematography confusingly switches between artistic and stoically uninspired, but there’s enough movement in the performance to make for enjoyable viewing.
The DVD’s centerpiece is undoubtedly the Koes Plus collaboration with The Brandals, who are the modern equivalent of Koes Plus in their rebellious edge and socially conscious lyrics. Unfortunately, the collaboration ends up feeling tacked on, with The Brandals’ solo performance sounding and looking much livelier. “Obsesi Mesin Kota” (“City Machine Obsession”) is a roaring performance, while “Perak” (“Silver”), from the band’s latest record, shows how much they’ve grown musically.
Members of the band’s stage crew make repeated appearances on stage to seemingly warn the band of sound issues and allotted stage time, which would be fine had this been a live broadcast. But the general feeling is that such scenes should have been edited out.
Djakmosphere’s collaboration concept is exciting, ideally resulting in both parties challenging and bringing out the best in each other. But perhaps due to a lack of time or other factors, it still needs work.
This is most clear in Sarasvati’s collaboration with Keenan Nasution. Sarasvati is a conceptual singer-songwriter whose theatrical performances have garnered her a dedicated fan base, while Nasution is undoubtedly one of the country’s most iconic and versatile musicians. It seems like a perfect pairing, but Nasution’s part in Sarasvati’s “Bilur” (“Welt”) feels awkward, and their rendition of Guruh Soekarno Putra’s “Zamrud Khatulistiwa” (“Equatorial Emerald”) never gels.
Perhaps it was better when seen in person, but the DVD captures the audience responding with folded arms and half-hearted head shakes.
The better joint effort comes in the form of Bandung indie-poppers Pure Saturday’s collaboration with Yockie Suryo Prayogo, a legendary musician whose main arsenal is his keyboard. Running through Pure Saturday’s energetic “Albatros” and Suryo Prayogo’s “Elang” (“Hawk”), the pair seem to be comfortable enough with each other to let the songs run their own course. Their energy is welcome after the stiffness of the other collaborations.
The footage of the musicians casually conversing backstage and prior to the show is placed nicely between sets and adds color to the film.
Djakarta Artmosphere 2011 DVD
Indonesian with English subtitles