Kotak is a female-fronted alternative pop/rock band from Jakarta, Indonesia, formed in 2004. The members, currently, are Tantri Syalindri Ichlasari (aka Tantri) on vocals, Swasti Sabdastantri (aka Chua) on bass, Mario Marcella (aka Cella) on guitar, and Posan Tobing (aka Posan) on drums. Tantri replaced original vocalist Pare in 2007. Kotak began after winning The Dream Band 2004 talent contest on Indonesian TV 7. Indonesia, surprisingly (to me, anyway), has a lot of cool female-fronted and all-female rock bands. Kotak is the first Indonesian rock band I discovered and, as such, is my favorite, but Cokelat, Omelette, Geisha [despite their name, they are not a Japanese band] and pop/rockers SHE are pretty awesome, too.
Kotak‘s eponymous debut album (2005) offers ten excellent tracks of grungy alternative rock mixed with melodic pop/rock hooks. Pare has a very expressive, tuneful voice, which helps me, since she sings entirely in Indonesian, as does current vocalist Tantri. Alt-rockers “Hilang” and “Terbang (Khayal)” are the most popular tracks. The latter was even re-recorded with Tantri for the band’s third album. My favorite tracks are the anthemic ballads “Damai Hati” and “Saat Ku Jauh”. But, other good tracks include “Remuk”, which is driven by a badass riff, and “Satu Cinta”, which features a rapcore vocal bridge from Yovie ‘Mata’(?). “Phobia” also features rapcore vocals, from the same artist, similar to Paul McCoy‘s guest vocals on Evanescense‘s “Bring Me To Life”.
Kotak‘s second album, Kotak Kedua (2008), was the first with Tantri and a major label; and, it seems, with this release and the next, Energi (2010), the Pare-fronted version of Kotak was all but forgotten. The band’s 2012 best-of collection features only songs from the Tantri-fronted version’s two releases. Too bad. Kotak‘s debut was their best, but the other two aren’t bad either. Tantri, like Pare, has a strong voice, but, with Tantri, Kotak began to explore a more pop/rock-influenced sound. “Baraksi”, “Kosong Toejoeh” and “Lagi Lagi” are alternative rockers similar in style to the sound of the band’s first album, while “Masih Cinta” and “Berbeda” are straight up pop ballads, but good ones. “Tinggalkan Saja” is an awesome mid-tempo ballad whose harmonic guitar hook is borrowed from Smashing Pumpkins‘ “Today”. “Terluka” is another cool mid-tempo ballad with a chunky riff driving the chorus. “Mencintai Ku Dan Dia” is similar and just as cool. But, the best ballad is the acoustic-driven “Bayang Abadi”, a perfect showcase for Tantri’s voice. “Beraksi”, “Masih Cinta”, “Tinggalkan Saja”, as well as “Kembali UntukMu”, all have videos. So watch them all here:
OK, so watch all of the rest of the videos here (if you so desire):
2005 – Kotak [Album]
2008 – Kotak Kedua [Album]
2010 – Energi [Album]
2011 – Energi: Tendangan dari Langit (Repackage) [Album]
2012 – Terbaik (Best of) [Album]