Detty Kurnia: Dari Sunda
The 9th in the series revisiting classic albums and old favourites.
Indonesian singer Detty Kurnia made the album Dari Sunda in 1991 and it soon became the all-time best-selling Asian album in Japan. The album was originally released here on Sony’s Wave label and was reissued by Riverboat Records a few years later as part of their ‘Women of the World’ series. It remains a classic album of the style known as Pop Sunda which is a mixture of Indonesian traditions and Western electronic technology. The album was produced by Makoto Kubota and co-produced by Lilik Aribowo and the recordings were made in Jakarta, Singapore and Japan.
The Pop Sunda genre began in Western Java in the 1970s and the term came into general use in the 80s. The music of Sunda and other parts of Indonesia, along with outside influences, is combined on Dari Sunda and there is also a dash of Japanese and Okinawan music as Kurnia includes her own versions of the Japanese song ‘Sunayama’, and the Okinawan song ‘Hana’ by Shoukichi Kina. She sings both of these in Japanese. However, the outstanding performance on the album is Kurnia’s lovely version of what is probably Indonesia’s most popular song ‘Bengawan Solo’.
Detty Kurnia was born in Bandung, Sunda in 1960, the daughter of a musician. She began singing from the age of six and made her first recordings on cassette when she was eleven. After moving into the Pop Sunda style she became the finest singer in that genre and on this album she spreads her wings further to sing an even wider range of songs. It’s this which makes it so accessible and takes it into another dimension. In the same year that Dari Sunda was released Kurnia was invited to perform at the first WOMAD festival in Japan.
She recorded another album Coyor Panon not long afterwards in a slightly more traditional style and has made countless other recordings in her home country over the years. The eclectic nature of Dari Sunda means that the keyboards, guitar and samples of producer Makoto Kubota sit happily alongside the traditional rebab, kendang and gamelan. There is also a wide range of songwriters with each track having a different composer. It may not be very typical of the kind of music emanating from this vast country, which boasts so many styles, but there is nothing diluted or compromised about the music. Detty Kurnia sings beautifully throughout and has created a lasting Asian pop classic.
Sadly, Detty Kurnia died prematurely in 2010 after contracting breast cancer.