Long-awaited compilation of hard-rocking, psychedelic songs from Indonesia's premiere rock outfit Panbers (Pandjaitan Bersaudara) culled from their most fertile years with Mesra Dimita Records. For those uninitiated on the glory of Panbers, consider this compilation an introduction to some of the earliest and heaviest rock sounds to come out of Indonesia.
The Pandjaitan Brothers or Panbers came from the North Sumatra minority Christian group, the Bataks, whose ancestry traces back to an island at the center of Lake Toba. As a minority group within Indonesia's Muslim-dominated society, this ethnic minority has produced top military generals, celebrity lawyers, and a legion of pop and rock superstars.
Suffice to say, some of the biggest names in the country's pop history were Bataks. Panbers fit the bill perfectly.
The band's strong Christianity belief looms heavily in the music they produce. The prominent use of the Hammond organ in their early materials is evocative of church music the band members have been around in their whole life. Bandleader Benny Pandjaitan's fills his characteristic wail with existential dread, with many utterances of the word "mengapa" (why).
Guilt is another central theme Pandjaitan repeatedly comes back to in his lyrics. But they balance it with joy, on songs such as "Come on You Dance" "Let's Dance Together" or "Haai" (a play on the word high), where references to recreational substances are plentiful.
Although they modeled themselves after the era's rock bands Beatles and fellow countrymen Koes Plus, Panbers had a unique aversion to the electric guitar. In "Jakarta City Sound," a fiery three-note guitar solo is laid so far down in the mix that they are barely audible. In "Haai" they modify the guitar to sound like a jungle instrument playing traditional North Sumatran music. In "Rock and the Sea," arguably their most well-known song globally, they decided to ditch electric guitar altogether and replace it with a sitar.
In the absence of an electric guitar, Panbers had to rely on Doan's inventive bass playing and Asido's drum works to do the heavy lifting - and boy, do they deliver (Their 1971 debut "Volume 1" saw plenty of drum breaks). In this compilation, listeners will hear recordings from Panbers' fertile four-year period - a time that produced some of the grooviest and hardest-sounding psychedelic music in Indonesia's rock history.