Album Information
Album Name: MARKERS AND SUCH PENS FLASHDISKS
Release Date: May 2024
Music Video Archive
MARKERS PENS AND SUCH FLASHDISKS (Album Visualiser)
Kita usahakan rumah itu
Mesra-mesraannya kecil-kecilan dulu
Lewat sudah pukul dua, makin banyak bicara kita
Dari planet lain
Yasudah
Episode
Foto kita blur
Semua lagu cinta
Di mana alamatmu sekarang
Ada titik-titik di ujung doa
Biar jadi urusanku
Zuzuzaza
Hi, selamat pagiii
Gala bunga matahari
I’d like to watch you sleeping

Album Review

By Arya Adyuta

It seems that love is Sal Priadi’s most beloved asset. The thing that has shaped him the most. With his roots in Malang, East Java, Sal Priadi moved to Jakarta to continue pursuing his love of music. In this crowded, noisy capital, Sal found his love of the arts expanding into acting. Recent years have also become busy for him as he built a family after his wedding. Love seems to be opening more pathways in his life.

In his new album, Sal Priadi brings his ruminations on love to new levels. His captivating sophomore album MARKERS AND SUCH PENS FLASHDISKS captures the dynamics of love through various styles and sounds. The album renders Sal’s conceptions of love, which are apparently shifting. For Sal, unlike his earlier works, love is no longer a reverie. But it has become more of an interaction of everyday thoughts and practices.

Four years after his first album, Berhati, Sal took an interesting musical turn to focus on a love that is filled with simple confessions. He is transforming from a poet who exploited language beyond its usual uses, into a humble grown-up that romanticises life through everyday words. This shift is supported by how the album feels sonically more straightforward. Ballad, soul, blues, and rock, perfectly gathered into his unique approach toward Indonesian pop, thanks to various producers engaged in the album production. This fluidity becomes the strength that Sal now proposes.

The LP begins from home. “Kita usahakan rumah itu (We try for that house)” contains hope and longing for the coziness of home. The second track, “Mesra-mesraannya kecil-kecilan dulu (The romance will be small at first)” tells about a simple, unconditional love; a love letter to his son, Barat. Through these two acoustic, mellow ballads, Sal invites us to center family in our lives. Petra Sihombing acted as the producer for both songs, marrying the popular folk-ish style of music into Sal’s distinct narratives. 

A similar tone can also be found in the next song, “Lewat sudah pukul dua, makin banyak bicara kita (It’s past two, we’re talking more and more” that serves as a soothing love statement to his wife, Sarah Deshita, a well-known Indonesian festival curator.

The “comical” side of Sal begins to appear in the fourth track, “Dari planet lain (From Another Planet)” which gained much attention through TikTok, with more than 500,000 videos using it as a sound. The song lifts excitement by infusing a more theatrical style that melds well with Sal’s comedic lyrics. Sal voiced a wonder, “Sepertinya kau memang dari planet yang lain” roughly translated as “It seems like you’re from another planet.” The lyrics sound like a joke at first, but heartfelt on the second listen. A song to sing to the one-of-a-kind.

This kind of performative approach, turns out, is at the heart of this album. The songs here inspire the visuals, but also vice versa. Take, for example, when Sal once said that Ken Danuja and Tara Basro, an actor couple, took over his mind when he was writing “Dari planet lain (From Another Planet)”. This resulted in them becoming the main cast and director for the music video for the song. It seems like the album cannot be separated from the visual accompaniment that comes with it.

This album continues with a series of contemplative tracks. Songs such as “Episode” and “Biar jadi urusanku (Let it be my concern)” correctly portray the essence of “adult-ing”. Sal seems to find it much easier to respond to love and the goodbyes that come with it with acceptance. One of the similar songs was titled as “Yasudah (Oh Well)” a local phrase that captures an acceptance to get over something. This specific expression, I think, best describes how Sal was trying to move on.

As seen in his extensive use of slang and patois in this album, Sal likes to play with words. Songs like “Semua lagu cinta (All the love songs)” and “Zuzuzaza” place language as the main ingredient in his songwriting. The former utilized repetitive verses to visualize love imagery, and the latter opened spaces for the listener to write their own chorus. This kind of method seems fresh for Indonesian pop which usually focuses on selling just the sonic features of a song. Sal’s move in emphasizing language-first music is bold for the easily-saturated industry.

Although words usually come first in Sal’s songwriting, this album’s sonic aspects are hard to miss. As producers are crucial in defining Indonesian pop, Sal includes seven different well-known music producers to work on this album. Each of their contributions gives a sense of diversity to how this album sounds.

Priadi also worked with Lafa Pratomo who helped this album to flesh out its raw, warm sides. The rawness is prominent as heard on “Ada titik-titik di ujung doa (There are dots at the end of prayer)”. Who knew forgiveness could sound so calming; with the song’s bluesy accent and an iconic guitar solo. 

Meanwhile, the emotive side could also be heard on one of the most important highlights from this album, “Gala bunga matahari, (Sunflower Bouquet)” a delicate chamber-pop piece produced by Rifan Kalbuadi and Gala Yudhatama about the passing of a loved one. Incorporating slow piano helming a rich orchestra, the song gives a sense of final resolution and closure. In the song, Sal asked the deceased if they would stop by the world as a sunflower (bunga matahari). As a flower rarely grown in Indonesia, sunflowers become a salient symbol of the presence of the dead.

I’ve always believed Indonesian pop could be an even more powerful genre if it addressed the relatable problems of its youth. MARKER AND SUCH PENS FLASHDISKS successfully narrates the dynamics of the youth’s core issues; that is love in the widest sense. As we already hear a plethora of optimistic views of love in the recent years, such as in the works of MALIQ & D’Essentials, Yura Yunita, or Kunto Aji , this album redefines love by focusing on the mundane. Here Sal abandons the big, dramatic declarations of love. Instead, he taps into the overlooked facets of life and our struggles.

This can be seen especially from how familial love is a significant theme in many of the songs in the album. As someone who grew up through the loss of a family member, this album feels like a close friend. With topics such as unconditional love to accepting someone’s passing, this album feels like a parent who listens to our deepest stories and secrets. Something meaningful to help bridge the intergenerational gap.

As the title suggests, this album is like a compilation, or more precisely, a collage of songs. Sonically and lyrically, it almost feels like a book of short stories presenting different characters and tropes. Critically speaking, it could be its strength but also its weakness. Sometimes, this approach pulls listeners to resist listening to the full album, because of its patchy character. But, I think Sal strongly managed to overcome this by producing solid songs throughout, each of which can be enjoyed on its own.

It seems that love is the thing. It seems that love is the one that shaped this album, and above all, Sal himself. I have long believed that love is real, but this album helped me to truly acknowledge it. Sal Priadi has proved his matured skills in talking about love, heartbreaks, and the connections in between.

The album closes with the longest track from the album “I’d like to watch you sleeping”. A peaceful ambient-rock with witty-yet-romantic lyrics, inserted with a hook from “Satu Yang Tak Bisa Lepas” popularized by the 90s diva, Reza Artamevia. An emotional closure that feels like hugs. Music that makes loving makes sense.

4.8/5

Album Track List

1. Kita usahakan rumah itu (We try for that house)
2. Mesra-mesraannya kecil-kecilan dulu (The romance will be small at first)
3. Lewat sudah pukul dua, makin banyak bicara kita (It’s past two, we’re talking more and more)
4. Dari planet lain (From another planet)
5. Yasudah (Oh well)
6. Episode
7. Foto kita blur (Blurry photo)
8. Semua Lagu cinta (All the love songs)
9. Di mana alamatmu sekarang (Where’s your address now)
10. Ada titik-titik di ujung doa (Dots at the end of the prayer)
11. Biar jadi urusanku (Let it be my concern)
12. Zuzuzaza
13. Hi, selamat pagiii (Hi, Good morninggg)
14. Gala bunga matahari (Sunflower Bouquet)
15. I’d like to watch you sleeping