Ghede Chokra's by Shark MoveRelease date: December 8, 2017
Label: Outer Battery Records
In those heady days of the late sixties, early Seventies strange were the ways that rock music traveled from the so-called centres like London, New York or San Francisco to places around the world and back. At the time, the Internet was still something of a laboratory blueprint, and even in those centres, sometimes it was only by chance some music was heard or discovered. In countries like Peru and South Africa, it all depended on travelers bringing certain sounds and them catching fire, irrespective of what was considered hip in London for example at the time. Peru got a great tradition of psych music that got its own shape and form. And the Rodriguez case in South Africa is a story in itself that brought us a great documentary and insight in such musical travels.
On the evidence of Shark Move and their sole album Ghede Chokra’s, Indonesia was no exception to that ‘strange ways’ rule. Its conception was brought about, by another rule at the time, that of Suharto regime in Indonesia, which tended to regulate even what kind of popular music was to be played on the radio. Basically covers of popular overseas hits. Shark Move had other ideas and other obvious influences. And all of those are obvious on this first properly remastered reissue.
The album was originally recorded in a span of seven days and released in 1970 as an almost obscure private press of 100 copies. It stayed barely alive through the cassette culture booming all over Asia at the time. Somehow it reached the entrepreneurial reissue guys at Shadoks, known for their good taste and poor production skills. From there on, ‘Evil War’, one of the tracks from the album reached a more recent compilation of Indonesian Rock, Those Shaking Days, which Madlib used as the beat track for his ‘City’ single a few years back. The status of the album soared, its original copies reaching exorbitant prices.
Shark Move is long gone as a band, and sadly two former members are not among us anymore, but the album has been reissued and remastered, so we can judge it on its true musical merits. And they are definitely there. It is a wildly interesting mix of different psych/progressive sounds – from Jefferson Airplane and Moody Blues to earlier versions of proto-heavy bands like Deep Purple (the good versions), with some nifty touches of Indonesian musical tradition ‘Butterfly’). In the tradition of early prog explorers, Shark Move tend to shift through tempo changes and melodies in a single song (the introductory ‘My Life’), but show a great musical sense and never end up in indulgence characteristic of so many more known bands of the time. Some of the lyrics that are in the band’s native language seem to have a social charge relevant for the time, and in a way, it could be sensed through the vocal interpretation even by us who are not familiar with it.
It is no wonder that ‘Evil War’ was picked by the Indonesian rock compilers and Madlib as it has brittle rhythmic shifts combined with the vocals repeatedly chanting “underground” and some nifty guitar and organ work (with the keyboard quoting the ‘In-A-Gadda Da-Vida’ opening riff, this time at the end). But in essence, with all the signs of the times it carries, Ghede Chokra’s (The Great Session in Hindi), turns out to be exactly that – the great session from the past that needs to be heard.