Emerging from West Java, Indonesia’s rich and underappreciated music scene is solo artist MUD SPENCER, with their latest offering Kliwon. The album is a masterclass in how to create spacey, transcendent instrumental psychedelic rock. Honestly there are tracks on this album that will transport you to a different plane of consciousness with their stunning texturing and immersive beauty.
The album’s artwork is a perfect indicator of what to expect on the album, a blend of beauty, darkness, mysticism, and intrigue. Each track is vastly different to the last and while there may only be four, their lengths and diversity more than make up for this fact. There’s an excellent balance struck across the four songs that showcases the full range and skill of the artist, with everything from wailing psyched out bluesy riff laden moments, to calm immersive ambience. For instance Dead On The Heavy Funk is a high energy banger that breaks up the album perfectly and snaps the listener right out of their psychedelic trance. However, they’re pulled right back in by the following track.
For me this is an album where I have absolutely no trouble picking favourite tracks, with Ratu Kidul and Jasmin Eater easily claiming this honour. Both of these songs are absolutely stunning and beyond captivating. Each runs for between fifteen and seventeen minutes in length, allowing them to slowly expand and grow and ebb and flow between stripped back trippy minimalism and rousing gradually built momentum.
Ratu Kidul presents an almost ritualistic repetitiveness that can feel somewhat trance-like at times. Given its extensive run time the listener can feel as if they are losing track of time, you’re never sure how long you’ve been listening or how much more there is to come. The only thing you do know though is that you never want the song to end. The guitar tone used for the majority of the track is crisp and clear and really lets the psychedelic nature of the music shine through. Towards the end of the track, we have a heavier focus on distortion that works perfectly in contrast with the crisper, more cyclical body of the song. While the track is very much psych based, it has an almost post-rock feeling to it, thanks to the minimalistic and atmospheric focus of parts of the song.
Jasmin Eater takes more of an ambient approach, with far more minimalistic and atmospheric focus. The song has a gradual buildup of energy and tension that gets louder and more palpable as it progresses. More elements are introduced over time, but in such a way that you barely notice them until suddenly you realise “oh wow, when did all of this start happening, this isn’t as chill as it was a minute ago.” Its no easy feat to create music that progresses that smoothly and shows a clear mastery of song writing. As the song passes the ten-minute mark the sound gets darker, louder and more ominous, continuing this trend right through to the close of the song. The contrast between the start and finish of the track is truly impressive and yet it feels like a completely natural progression, as if it could only have been done this way.
Overall I absolutely loved this album, I think it’s a stunning piece of music that showcases just how much talent there is in Indonesia outside of extreme metal ( a scene that seems to already be fairly globally respected). The approach taken toward psychedelic music really shows an understanding of the genre and a love for creating it. If you enjoy mind altering music or are looking for something to space out to, I cannot recommend this album enough.
Listen to and order the album: