Modern Indonesian music can trace its roots back to a critical point in our nation's history. It would not be an embellishment to think of Lokananta as the main cause of the proliferation of Indonesian pop music.
Lokananta, which translates to "The gamelan sounds of heaven", is the country's oldest record label and vinyl manufacturing facility in Indonesia. Born in 1956, the government backed record studio served as an Indonesian centric counter weight to the rising influence of Western culture on the Indonesian psyche. Lokananta was intended to provide an alternative for the public following the government's ban on Rock and Roll music. This ban included the prohibition of airing music from The Beatles on the newly independent nation's airwaves.
The ban surprisingly resulted in the golden age of Indonesian pop music. Lokananta evolved from merely starting as a transcription service for the national's public radio to becoming the epicenter of musical creativity and the creation of Indonesian rock legends, including Koes Plus and Bob Tutupoly. It was perhaps ironic that the ban on Western Rock and Roll in some ways birthed its Indonesian counterpart.
Alongside the first recorded speeches of President Soekarno (Indonesia's first president) and the original version of the national anthem, Lokananta holds account for the biggest collection of Keroncong and gamelan orchestras.
Unfortunately, the modernization of musical formats and rampant piracy led to Lokananta's sad and sure decline. Following its bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation in 2001, Lokananta’s main earnings were its rental fee from the indoor soccer space they were forced to create in order to keep the company alive.
Thankfully, Indonesia's independent music scene is now trying to prop up this musical institution that has been left stranded following the collapse of President Suharto's New Order government. Bands such as "White Shoes and The Couples Company" and "Efek Rumah Kaca" are trying to rekindle the public's interest in this critical piece of Indonesian music history.
Here at Lokal, we are extremely fortunate to own a couple of Lokananta produced vinyls. We hope to be able to play them for you some time!