Book Reviews


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Reading Jeremy Wallach’s monograph, Modern Noise, Fluid Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia, 1997–2001, has been a guilty pleasure for me….Wallach has written a book that, quite simply, should be read by scholars far beyond a small circle of Indonesianists.”

Walter E. Little, American Ethnologist

As he moves across social class, city geography and different musical genres, Wallach complicates the idea of modernity that seems to haunt the history of the New Order as well as the political transition during his fieldwork period. Rather than equating Western influences and globalization with a modernity desired by Indonesian urban youth, Wallach notes that the modernities are multiple and exist in tension with each other. As a result, each genre and each site Wallach visits, reveal a different aspect of a shifting and multiform modernity that may at once be desirable for and rejected by the youth. Ultimately, it is this combination of empathy, analytical rigor, cultural critique and optimism that makes Wallach’s book a compelling and enjoyable read.”

Veit Erlmann, The World of Music

Wallach’s text is a valuable addition to the growing field of Indonesian popular music studies and this study is a welcome counterbalance to ethnomusicologists’ historical focus on gamelan traditions…Wallach’s technique of comparing the very different genres of dangdut, and underground (metal, punk) musics allows him to approach issues of class, gender and globalization in rather sophisticated ways.”

Andrew Clay McGraw, Pacific Affairs

Wallach’s scrupulously detailed and analytically rich book allows the discordant discourses circulating through the world of Indonesian popular music to remain what they are in their essence: an ‘exuberant cacophony’ (p. 246) of local and borrowed sounds that together compose a dense field of noise.”

Brent Luvaas, Indonesia

Wallach’s emphasis on breadth provides an important overview of Indonesian musical and social spaces, laying the ground for subsequent work…The accompanying CD, with tracks of dangdut, pop Indonesia and musik underground, complements the richness of the text…”

Marina Peterson, Popular Music

Through perceptive ethnographic description and astute theoretical analysis, [Modern Noise, Fluid Genres] ably demonstrates both that an ethnographic approach can enrich the study of popular music and that the social interactions around popular music are a fertile site for anthropological studies of modernity…Along the way, [Wallach] treats readers to a compassionate, sympathetic, and, at times, very entertaining glimpse into the lives of ordinary modern Indonesians.”

Henry Spiller, American Anthropologist

 

[T]his study has now become a real reference for anyone who wants to try to understand the musical culture of Indonesian youth in the 2000s.”

Dana Rappoport, Archipel (translated from the French)

It’s definitely academic, plenty of cultural theory, but also plenty of anecdotes and interviews, visits to video shoots and classrooms, malls and campuses, and discussions with students and musicians, all with an eye on the globalization of music, and how specifically Indonesia fits into that trend…We’re definitely digging it so far…”

Aquarius Records

Aside from having been home to Barack Obama in his grade school days, Indonesia is a country of interest where diverse local cultures are colliding with Western influences, including alternative rock and metal. Bowling Green ethnomusicologist Jeremy Wallach’s account of recent music in the archipelago nation opens up into wider topics of a society in flux, culturally, socially and politically.”

David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee

A highly recommended text for undergraduate and graduate students in Southeast Asian music, or anyone interested in Indonesian popular music in particular.”

Matthew Forss, Southwest Journal of Cultures

Buku ini jelas sangat penting dibaca oleh kalangan akademisi atau siapa saja yang ingin memahami muzik pop Indonesia di zaman moden ini dalam kacamata cultural studies [Clearly this book is very important to read for the academic community and whoever wishes to understand Indonesian pop music in this modern era through the lens of cultural studies].”

Suryadi, Wacana Seni Journal of Arts Discourse

Wallach has a lively, informative writing style; his descriptions are vivid and accurate. The overall tone of the book brings the reader directly into the recording studio, onto the streets of Jakarta, and well into the intimate conversations that he records. The photographs offer solid evidence of what Wallach discusses and allow the readers a closer look at the individuals and contexts of performance.”

Sean Williams, The Australian Journal of Anthropology.