Koes Plus is the second incarnation of Koes Bersaudara (Koes Brothers), a1960s Indonesian rock band that found itself thrown in prison for liking the Beatles at a time when the government was fervently anti-western and pro-nationalistic. At the end of the decade the lineup changed and the band became the Koes Brothers-plus-an-outsider, or Koes Plus. Sublime Frequencies has packaged Koes Plus’ first two albums on a single CD with a booklet of band history, photographs, and song translations. The first album is more sentimental and monochromatic than the second, although it does start with a handsome scabrous song about bats. “The bats, their wings were black / They flew low in the middle of the night. Yyeoahw!” On the second album the musicians experiment with flutes, chimes, and bells, their songwriting becomes more sophisticated, their tone more varied, and the music cleaves more closely and cleverly to the emotion in the lyrics without losing any of its choppy Brit-invasion energy. The guitar and flute in “Andaikan Kau Datang” (“Wishing You Would Come”) pace in circles as if waiting, like the narrator, to be interrupted. They pause for the chorus, but the chorus resolves nothing, and the pacing resumes. Still, Koes Plus: Dheg Dheg Plas & Volume 2 provide a valuable, encapsulated introduction to the early years of Koes Plus.
// Notes from the Road
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