A couple of weeks ago I was asked by my good friend Dhito to write about Elemental Gaze, an electronic nu-gaze band from Bandung, for Sorge Magazine. The band is going to release a record under Sorge Records, and my article is a personal view about the band, reminiscing the good old days at Cisitu Asylum.
The article was published online on 14 July 2013 here, with some photos of Elemental Gaze I took, ca. 2007-2008.
Since the article is in Indonesian and some of my non-Indonesian friends couldn’t read it, I decided to translate it and put it here in my blog.
Elemental Gaze, from Oxalis’s Point of View
Jakarta feels like Bandung in the last few weeks. Strong winds and heavy rains starting after two in the afternoon, just like when I used to spend time at Cisitu Lama 24, more than a decade ago. Time flies. At that time, Cisitu Lama 24 — a house which we used to call “Cisitu Asylum” — was a base camp for several Bandung indie bands, including Elemental Gaze.
If Luthfi was in Cisitu Asylum, usually you could softly hear indiepop tunes from the likes of Blueboy and Cherry Orchard mixed with shoegaze sounds of Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine from his room. So unsurprisingly, when Luthfi joined Elemental Gaze, the atmosphere of that room in Cisitu Asylum was conveyed to in their songs. Moreover, Elemental Gaze got their name from “Elemental”, a song by Robin Guthrie (co-founder of Cocteau Twins) in his album “Imperial”.
I always think that the music of Elemental Gaze is very suitable for listening to during a journey in the rain. I clearly remember listening to “Unperfect Sky” (featuring Sigit of Tiga Pagi) from the compilation album “Half Dreaming” when I was taking a bus in the Sudirman area, which at that time was washed by the drizzle. It was the same with “Behind the Window I See”, which I found most suitable while daydreaming in a public bus, staring out of the window, just like its title.
It feels like ages ago since the last time I saw Elemental Gaze performing together – it was during an event called “Suicide is Rock”, initiated by a Jakarta trip-hop band Everybody Loves Irene at a cafe in Kemang five years ago. 2008 was a golden year for Elemental Gaze. Not only did they perform in many local gigs, but they also went to perform at Baybeats festival in Singapore and opened Mono’s concert in Malaysia. Their EP, “Let Me Erase You”, was released in the same year by Japanese record label Xtal Records.
In 2007 I interviewed Fuad, Bilan, and Luthfi on the sidelines of a music and fashion festival in Bandung. At that time they said that Elemental Gaze felt like being reborn, after their hiatus of a couple of years. There had been some changes in their music, along with a change of members (Myrdal left and was replaced by Luthfi) and a new spirit, as friends came to promote and boost the band to become one of the most prominent bands in the burgeoning music scene of shoegaze and electronic.
After another hiatus of around three years, I heard about their plan of releasing a record. I expected that there would be changes again in their music, in particular due to the new ways of living of the band members, which have changed greatly in the past years.
External changes – from the social shifts, the rapid development of technology (in particular the social media), the change of nature in the places they are living, to the change of the music scene — can also influence the music they are making, even though it they might not result in a major difference from the previous releases.
The teaser from their next record, “God Knows Why This Should Be Kept For All The Time”, is like taking us to our next life’s transition. Taking us to on a journey along the changes.
ps: Dhito is a good friend of Luthfi (the guitarist) and we used to be in the same band, Disco in Disguise, back in 2004.
pps: big thanks to Maarten for the proofreading.