Following the release of his sophomore EP, we take a look at the progression Jakarta’s Low Pink takes in his music and journey – branding himself as Indonesia’s newest one-man psychedelic army. Join Big Duck as we bask in the psychedelic canvas that Low Pink paints for us in his latest release, Dominance.
Four years after the release of his debut EP Phases under the moniker Low Pink, Jakarta native Raoul Dikka hits us home-dwellers with a fresh new release Dominance, that debuted late September under salient Indonesian record label Kolibri Rekords. Rewinding to his 2016 debut EP, Phases. Dikka crafted intricate guitar-driven songs, with its sonic tapestries using washed out, melodic guitar arrangements to create draping waves of chiming, psychedelic textures. The record featured servings of hazy indie rock rough around the edges – with its guitar improvisations complemented by repetitive, droning chord progressions and loose, roomy drums, altogether crafting a debut that presented a certain unpolished 8-track DIY garage feel, reminiscent of early Tame Impala. With its consistency in production and easily listenable melodies — the record was not too bad a debut at all, managing to garner its own listener base. Yet, despite its charm, it ultimately lacked in areas such as dynamics and individuality.
On Dominance’s two songs, however, Dikka takes to reinventing his formula. With the pair of songs Keep Yourself Away and Feelings, he focuses on crafting a more intimate, bedroom styled production instead, a stylistic choice very much following indie pop trends. Five years down the line, he’s also keeping with the times. With this shift in Dikka’s main focus towards his lyricism and greater use of dynamics, the main standout elements become his arrangements, which not only have become shorter and more concise, but also much more well-considered.
In the time between these releases, Dikka seems to have learnt a crucial lesson about making good pop songs – simplicity is undeniably the secret. The thoughtful production is sparse yet rich, with each instrumental either effectively grabbing your attention or working to build up each song dynamically. A major contributor to his fresh sound is his new love for 80’s analog synth tones that are rich and full, standing conspicuously in the mix in crafting this peculiar warmth. It’s a welcome addition to his palette, and was a diversity in which Phases was sorely lacking.
That being said, fans of the neo-psychedelic guitar washes featured in his previous record can also be thankful that he has not abandoned his axe – albeit its role having completely transformed. On Dominance, Dikka’s ever-so-recognisable guitar tones still delightfully drip with layers of phasers and delay –but not in the way that you would expect. In stark contrast to the droning and repetitive style eminent in his previous record, his stringwork nowtakes the form of R&B styled chord shapes and grooves, interspersed with tasteful lead licks.. It’s immediately apparent that guitar no longer takes centre stage in his music anymore – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.His newly adopted style of guitar playing does a fantastic job colouring in between the cracks, valleys conjured by the tracks’ soaring synths and driving backdrops created by simple basslines and electronic drums.
Another large shift in artistry is with regards to his lyricism. – While the lyrics felt like just another layer in the music on Phases, introduced for the sheer sake of adding texture, Low Pink’s new stylings place a heavy focus on the lyrical content. Where Dikka channelled his outlets for emotional expression through his interspersing of guitar motifs on his previous record, he manages to successfully shift his focus this time round to expressing it through words. With the tracks now arranged and formulated around the lyrical melodies, it becomes immediately apparent that this time round, Dikka is all about the hooks. was .
As a result, this double single becomes earworm after earworm, with itsmelodies cutting like a hot knife melting through butter. A prime example of this is the chorus of the second track – its refrain consists of a short statement: “I want your feelings”, and yet helped by the arrangements and tasteful modulation, the one-liner shines. As agonisingly simple as it sounds, you can’t help but be impressed by the vocal delivery. Even with so little words, it manages to take up so much sonic real estate — it’s almost reminiscent of a certain artist in the ballpark called Kevin Parker.
The chorus of Keep Yourself Away is another great example.As he delivers his lines (“Come and give me some, I wanna feel the sensation. Come and spare us some, you’re not all alone…”), it exudes an air of almost relaxed defeatism, the hallmark of an artist that has spent the past 5 years working on his craft.
Dominance is quite the progression from his older material, being more polished and focused, more self-conscious and deliberate –safe to say, his music has come a long way since 2016. However, it still can’t be overlooked that that this release is still feels largely derivative within its genre, being strongly redolent of the material that big-time indie artists like Rex Orange County and Tame Impala have been putting out over the past few years. The change in style also draws away from the style of music produced by Kolibri’s other acts –such as Bedchamber and Gizpel – throwing a spanner in the works for avid fans of the label. Despite this, you can’t really blame Dikka — taking such a bold shift in his musical direction, he has to start somewhere. And with all that said, it still doesn’t discount the fact that “Dominance” is a very sensible pop record. Here at Big Duck, we’re excited to see what future material Low Pink will come up with in his new shoes.
Listen to "Dominance" here: