With their profound take on electronic music, Animistic Beliefs have steadily solidified their spot in the global underground. Influenced by cultural concepts such as ancestry, animism and mythology, as well as the languages of political techno, punk, bubbling and IDM, Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu consistently translate their visions into sensitive productions as well as high-octane live performances. On their new record, MERDEKA, the artists explore and embrace their cultural heritage in all of its pride, pain and complexity. MERDEKA symbolizes Animistic Beliefs’ breaking free, coming to terms with their changing selves and letting go of external expectations. The record rethinks childhood memories, confronts the generational trauma left by (post-)colonialism, and re-connects Linh and Marvin – respectively of Vietnamese-Chinese and Dutch-Moluccan descent – with their formative cultures.
MERDEKA marks their first step in an overall departure from western club music. For its layered sound, Animistic Beliefs once again draw from the past, present and future of global club music, creating a sonic space where fast techno, warped breakbeats and ambient soundscapes make way for the augmented influence of (Southeast Asian) tribal music.
The record incorporates Indonesian scales and recordings of
the Tahuri (a wind instrument made out of a conch shell), Totobuang (Gamelan-like gongs) and Tifa drums, known as ‘the Moluccan heartbeat’.
There is no audible distinction between old and new, between organic and digital, between instrumentation and voice.
It is through words that the artists further touch on their experience; To Dream About Water opens with a stirring spoken word fragment by Marvin, marking the first time his voice is recognizably featured, whereas Khi Minh Gap Lai (‘Until We Meet Again’) centres on a Vietnamese poem by Linh, in which she beseeches her ancestors and finds a safe haven for unanswered questions.
In true Animistic Beliefs fashion, MERDEKA will set fire to sweltering clubs and (sleepless) dreams. Yet, for the artists, it is essential to amplify the stories that spark that flame and keep it burning.
The release of MERDEKA follows CACHE/SPIRIT, their ongoing collaboration with visual artist Jeisson Drenth, which extensively explores the artists’ intersectional identities. As such, the latest album is the next step within a bigger, introspective investigation. More unapologetic than ever, MERDEKA embodies a turning point on Animistic Beliefs’ ongoing journey towards self-acceptance – fuelled by the sound of urgency.