Dara Puspita

Dara Puspita 1966-1968

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The continuing survey of musics from around the world, past and present, by the Sublime Frequencies label had already turned up a number of excellent songs and performers from Indonesia. This archival collection of an all-female quartet's work from the years in question, though, is something else yet again, as classic an example of the reach of rock & roll as a world music at its height as can be dreamed of. Presented with a full history of the group in Alan Bishop's detailed liner notes, Dara Puspita 1966-1968 is 26 songs of, for the most part, simply delightful and totally energetic garage rock/R&B/Beatlemania that should have long since appeared on a Nuggets-themed compilation somewhere. Drawing from the band's four full releases, the collection isn't arranged chronologically, but doesn't feel like a random mix, kicking off on just the right note with "Pip Pip Yeah" from their second album. The easygoing harmonies there bespeak the Beatles influence from the start, while "Ibu," a riff on (or remake of) "She Said She Said," is another example of the impact. But that's not the only thing in the mix, and ultimately the group members' singing in their native language adds something that tons of wannabes in the U.S. or U.K. could never touch. Their great screams on "Pesta Pak Lurah" and gentle keening on the stately art pop of "Hai Kasih" showcase how readily they could switch between approaches, while their cover of the Ventures' "Mabuk Laut" also shows they didn't need to say a word to make things work. Overall the sense is of an accomplished band whose members know everything that's happening around them and then twist it to create something inspiring, both utterly familiar and totally unexpected.

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