A island nation with a great seafaring tradition and history of invasion and occupation that became a republic two years after Ireland. Why Indonesia of course and one of the leading lights of the Celtic-Punk scene are The Working Class Symphony.
Over the years that this site has existed we have reviewed many Celtic-Punk releases from Indonesia. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the scene there rivals Germany in it’s number of bands away from the traditional Irish/ Celtic diaspora communities. Tenholes, Black Rawk Dog, The Cloves And The Tobacco, Rain In Summer, Dirty Glass have all graced these pages but it was the magnificent Wind From The Foreign Land compilation that really exposed the Celtic-Punk scene to many outside the region. Featuring fourteen bands it is still one of the best compilation albums I have ever heard. Of course todays band The Working Class Symphony were one of the highlights and have gone on to feature here several times subsequently, the last time being August last year.
Founded in 2010 in Surakarta, in central Indonesia, a couple of good friends (one a drunk and the other a musician!) were working together in an internet cafe listening to Irish pub song compilations. Inspired by the music it sparked an idea to get together with some other friends and play similar music. When this became a solid group shortly afterwards they decided to take the name The Working Class Symphony to reflect their roots and positive attitude.
Life in this country is already very difficult, if it still has to be added by listening to mainstream music as it is today … Really it will be FORGETTING..There is no other way than making music that can be uplifting … God Save The Working Class !!!!!
So having missed their 10th anniversary due to the Covid lockdown they see in their 11th with the new EP Mulat Sarira Hangrasa Wani. Recording did actually begin last year at the Biru Solo Studios but were delayed until recently. For those of you not too fluent in Indonesian the phrase translates roughly as “brave with sincerity to see one’s shortcomings”.
Their are six songs here. Four new ones a previously released single and a cover. The EP begins with ‘Wani Perang’ and the drone of bagpipes soon gives way to the rest of the band and this is top quality Celtic-Punk. It owes a lot to the sound of Oi! (another genre popular in the underground music scene there) with its catchy rockin’ tune, gang vocals, great hooks and the pure ‘pint in the air’-ness about it! Several elements at play here that all work great together.
Next up is ‘Alerta Song’. This came out as a single last year and is a tribute to Cornel Simanjuntak an important figure in the development of Indonesian music. The song includes many of Cornel’s words and still inspire many today.
The Working Class Symphony dedicate this song to Cornel. With straightforward lyrics, as a picture of the reality that is happening here. Finally, keep on loving our country no matter what happens until the end of closing of your eyes… Freedom.
‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ sees the Symphony take a much more Punk/ Hardcore route but still with their trademark sound intact. Not a band to stand still and without the confines of a more traditional Celtic-Punk band The Working Class Symphony show their not afraid to get a bit heavy at times. We can only guess at the lyrics but I’m sure from the title we can all agree. A lot of the island’s Celtic-Punk bands play more Trad Folk based Celtic-Punk while The Working Class Symphony have always edged towards that early Dropkicks sound but on ‘Lelaki Bekarja Dan Kemaki’ they show they can do the trad Folk sound too. They continue in this style with ‘Sahabat Yang Telah Pergi’ and every Celtic-Punk release needs a ballad and this is this ones and it is terrific. Sung with passion and gusto it really does soar and it needed worry you that you can’t understand the words. Wrapping up the EP is a cover of ‘The Holy Ground’ and what a fantastic cover it is too. On hearing it I am actually a bit surprised it hasn’t been covered by more Celtic-Punk bands as it has the perfect chorus for shouting and banging tables! Made famous by The Dubliners and Luke Kelly and his dulcet tones here the guys give it the pub feel with plenty of oomph among the “fine girl you are” chorus. The best song here for me but I love the whole EP so I’ll probably change that to something else by the time this comes out. Lyrically The Working Class Symphony usual staples are that of hard work, football and the real events that surround them. To close with The Holy Ground is a real good touch and I’m sure Luke is looking down with a twinkle in his eye at a bunch of young Indonesians paying this tribute to him and Irish music.
The EP artwork is by good friend of the band Jahlo Gomez from Belukar and those with an interest in Indonesian Celtic-Punk will recognise his artwork from other bands releases and logos. It is great to hear from the band that for this release many people were asking for a physical release and has been not only across Indonesia but the entire world. All the great things about Celtic-Punk are present here. Think of the Claddagh ring and its motto of friendship, loyalty and love. That is The Working Class Symphonys message and I’ll leave off with their words
“We hope that this can be the embryo of the rebirth of the punk spirit with its various variations.
Keep on trying, towards infinity and beyond.”
For the moment contact TWCS to buy the CD via Instagram/Facebook
Download coming soon!