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Lokananta, Indonesia’s Legendary Recording Studio

If we travel to Solo, precisely on Ahmad Yani streer number 387, Surakarta, Central Java, or about two kilometers from Purwosari Station, we will find a heritage building labeled “Lokananta”. Lokananta is a legendary music recording studio located in Solo, Central Java.

The name Lokananta studio is familiar to music fans from the 1960s to 1990s. Inside the Lokananta building there is a room that provides sales of CDs (compact disks) and cassettes resulting from media transfer from vinyl records.

A series of recordings of songs by top artists such as Koes Plus, The Steps, Waldjinah, and others are available there. Inside the building there is also a collection room for machines that were once used for recording at Lokananta.

In the next room, there are various machines lined up. These include a quality control machine from 1980, a pattern generator from 1980, a tape cutting machine from 1980, a VHS Video Recorder from 1990, a vinyl record player from 1970, and a power amplifier from 1960.

Several VHS (Video Home System) tapes containing recordings of ketoprak performances broadcast on TVRI in the past are lined up next to a Sony-branded television and on top of a National-branded VHS player. An assortment of vinyl records and players from London and Switzerland are still playing and being used.

Currently, there are 53,000 pieces of vinyl records stored at Lokananta. Initially, the collection was a product of unsold vinyl records. Currently, they are a collection that will not be sold.

Efforts to preserve the contents of the Lokananta collection are carried out by re-recording in digital form. Since its inception, Lokananta has produced and duplicated vinyl records, then developed into audio cassettes.

Lokananta was the first and largest record company in Indonesia, established in 1956. As the “Zero Point” of Indonesian music, Lokananta experienced its glory in the 1970s-1980s by producing a number of Indonesian music legends, such as Gesang, Waldjinah, Bing Slamet, Titiek Puspa, and Sam Saimun.

Lokananta was built at the suggestion of the Head of Jawatan Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI), R Maladi together with Oetojo Soemowidjojo and Raden Ngabehi Soegoto Soerjodipoero in 1956. Lokananta was built with the aim of recording broadcast material that would be broadcast by RRI in the form of vinyl records.

The archives of Bung Karno’s state speeches are also stored here. Later, Lokananta developed into a recording studio. At that time, the music that was recorded were folk songs, karawitan music, and keroncong.

The relatively large studio size makes the building also very suitable for live recording, especially gamelan. Not only music and songs, Lokananta also records audio of performing arts, such as fairy tales, folklore, wayang and ketoprak. For example, there are the stories of Jaka Tingkir Tundung, Ande-ande Lumut, Ki Nartosabdo’s puppet show, and Basiyo’s dagelan.

Along with the times and technology, Lokananta was left behind until it was vacuumed and abandoned in the 1990s. But now this legendary recording studio can again be visited by the general public.

Visitors who want to visit Lokananta, simply come on working days and hours. “I visited Lokananta last year, and was very concerned about the condition of Lokananta. Even though the historical value and intellectual property in Lokananta is very potential to be empowered. Through the optimization program of existing assets in State-Owned Enterprises, we revitalize Lokananta so that it can provide benefits and impact to the community,” said Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, Erick Thohir.

The Ministry of SOEs is called to encourage the progress of the music and arts industry in Indonesia through the revitalization and development of Lokananta assets in Surakarta, Central Java. Lokananta is revitalized, used as a center of creativity for musicians, artists, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

In 2022, the Ministry of SOEs through PT Danereksa (Persero) and PT Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA) revitalized Lokananta which has an area of 2.1 hectares. The physical construction of Lokananta began in November 2022, marked by the Lokananta Reload event on November 27, 2022, and was completed in only six months.

“Lokananta is one example of an abandoned state-owned asset that has now been successfully revitalized. I ask Danareksa and PPA to prepare a sustainable business model, so that Lokananta can have a solid foundation to continue to exist and be relevant in the future,” Erick added.

The new version of Lokananta now has five main pillars, namely a museum/recording studio gallery, performance arena, culinary area, and MSME gallery. Lokananta’s revitalization and optimization steps are also in line with and fully supported by the Surakarta City Government, where Lokananta is one of the 17 development priorities of Surakarta City.

Erick appreciated Danareksa’s step through PPA that has revived and redeveloped Lokananta. As one of the cultural heritage, he hopes that Lokananta can be a connector between generations, from senior musicians, to young musicians who have the potential to develop their talents.

“I invite fellow musicians and artists, with support from SOEs, to make the best use of the facilities available at Lokananta. Use it to collaborate and work, so that Lokananta can have a social, economic and cultural preservation impact on Indonesia,” said Erick. (Indonesia.go.id)

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