By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |
Bilal Indrajaya is mostly known for his singles “Biar” and “Ruang Kecil,” and also collaborated with Vira Talisa in her single “He’s Got Me Singing Again.” As shown from his songs (and a healthy skim through his Instagram profile), he’s somewhat of an old soul, heavily drawing on influences from bands like The Beatles and scenes like late ’60s psychedelia. Even though he looks to the west, his mastery of Indonesian lyricism allows him to create his own spin of Western-tinged local music—and boy, is he good in doing that. He recently released his debut EP Purnama, and while it touches on familiar themes and sounds, it takes its listeners through a stylistic and emotional rollercoaster.
Indrajaya starts his EP with “Merekah,” an instrumental introduction to the musical landscape of the EP. The song transitions smoothly to “Gulana,” and with its late-Beatles reminiscent organs, it reminds us of Indrajaya’s previous releases, “Biar” and “Ruang Kecil.” Lyrically, “Gulana” brings forward a familiar topic of heartbreak—the protagonist sings through a breakup. Here, we can definitely build upon the common musical ground of Indrajaya as an artist; additionally, he also references some lyrics from “Biar” and “Ruang Kecil” lyrically by the end of the song.
“Gulana” is followed by “Irma”—named after Indrajaya’s mother. The song has more upbeat instrumentation than “Gulana,” one that reminds us of Indonesian bands of the ’00s like the early days of RAN. However, “Irma” commonly touches on the theme of longing; Indrajaya talks about his desire of coming home to whatever he calls home, as he sings “Denganmu semua menjadi / Alasanku untuk pulang ke rumah” (“With you, everything becomes / my reason to come back home”). Indrajaya also utilizes vocal melodies that reek heavily of his influences, including his “ooh la la”s in the chorus.
In “Singgah,” Indrajaya starts and ends with a “Terpujilah kau” (“Glory be to you”), bringing in the age-old yet always interesting theme of comparing romantic love with religion and deity worship (you might find this theme familiar in Indonesian music if you’ve been listening to Sal Priadi’s “Kultusan,” or it’s probably just me, your in-house Sal Priadi fan). The instrumentation bringing in his ’60s influence and a healthy dose of seventh chords adds in to his feeling of longing in the song, where he sings “Yang tak sempat terucapkan, tersampaikan padamu / Bahwasannya diriku ‘kan selalu merindu parasmu, mendamba sentuhmu” (“What’s not yet said, confessed to you / is that I’ll always miss your face and long for your touch”). It really strikes a chord of everyone going through the same things the protagonist of the song is going through—including me (yes, I cried).
“Purnama” is a rather short song that starts with a mellow guitar over sounds of crickets,
Indrajaya adds in a vocal effect that would remind one of the White Shoes and the Couples Company—something that’s so antique yet so familiar. You can just imagine Indrajaya directly singing to you under the moonlight.
And while “Purnama” is the night, “Lagu Cinta Untuk Dunia” is the morning after. Indrajaya invites his past collaborator Vira Talisa to feature in the EP closer. Thinking that Indrajaya brought us through a rollercoaster of intense emotions through Purnama, “Lagu Cinta Untuk Dunia” is an uplifting song that shies away from digging deep to our psyche; Indrajaya and Talisa seems to tell their audience that even though we have these intense emotions—hey, tomorrow is a new day, and we can achieve our dreams. They’re telling us that we are not defined by our past and to not let our dreams be just dreams.
Bilal Indrajaya really shows the world his unique musical identity in Purnama, yet at the same time, showing us all that he is capable of traversing many moods and styles. Bilal Indrajaya is definitely an up-and-coming musician to watch, and I’m optimistic that he is going to bring so many fresh insights inside the Indonesian indie music scene.
Listen to Bilal Indrajaya here: