New releases to draw fans into the underground music scene (a.k.a. Malaysian tracks to get high to this July)
THERE’s magic in the air again. We think it’s from Orang‘s debut extended play Everyone, but it might also be the fact we’re past holiday season and all the supermarkets and dealers around town are stocked again.
There have been several significant Malaysian releases since raya and this is our effort to document the best for listeners under the influence. Enjoy these fresh tracks, selected through a particularly stringent curatorial process we can only ever tell you about in person.
Kuala Lumpur-based musician Azfar Abu Bakar has been active since 2013 though this is his longest official solo output to date. Away from his commitment to young progressive rock band Lust, he has built a cult following as singer-songwriter Orang.
Released on 13 July 2016 under Botanic Records, Orang’s Everyone comprises five ruminations on the artist’s own identity, conveyed through a distinct musical vocabulary established through a history of growing up with (among many others) The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Panda Bear and Beach House.
In the new EP, Orang’s unselfconscious and agile vocal presence is juxtaposed against reverberating, twinkling ascensions and declensions through Asian scales, creating songs that are simultaneously retro, contemporary and warmly familiar. The end result, like the bright, bittersweet tunes of Michigan multi-instrumentalist Alex Winston or Baltimore band Future Islands, veers off from contemporary pop songwriting just enough to provoke a degree of curiosity while losing none of its wide appeal.
Adding to the depth is his intimate, confessional lyrics which provide insight into the kind of heartbreak plaguing 21st century living — amorphous relationships, failed expectations and surveillance are some of the themes explored in Everyone.
Immediate standouts include “German Cosmic Rock” and “Pang of Regret“, as well as the contemplative “Selfie“, which even utilises a sample extracted from the Doraemon theme song. Everyone is out now on Spotify, Tidal and Bandcamp.
Local up-and-comers in hip-hop and R&B collaboratively dropped a mixtape under independent record label HOAX Vision immediately following raya break. Titled Hoax Wishes You Well, the collection of 14 tracks was posted on 11 July 2016 along with a holiday wish from the label.
wow kenapa dunia kejam sangat? hoax di sini untuk mengucapkan selamat hari raya maaf zahir dan batin dan jaga diri ye. kalau nak seronok datang lah ke #HOAX005 di Artebar, TREC pada 23 hb 7 ni. ada ramai penyanyi2 dan performer2 yang gempak untuk dipersembahkan. mixtape ini adalah kesinambungan siris2 mixtape HOAX…
— HOAX Vision, Soundcloud
It’s a mixed bag featuring tracks of various styles ranging from vaguely-listenable to fantastic, but the latter end of the spectrum is worth time and effort digging through the brave, experimental set.
Surprises like Viktoria‘s hypnotic and sensual dance-number “Come Around” and Kidd Santhe‘s “Litnya” plead convincingly for a spot on your playlists, while Orang Malaya‘s sexy but careless “Kamu Chantek” — an ode to girls who are “cantik macam gadis dari Los Angeles” and alcohol — is tightened up in I-Sky‘s remix.
Also worth noting is producer Fi7i (“Baby I’m Here” ft. ZSYIA) who has done some raw but notable dance remixes of Malaysian classics like Sheila Majid‘s “Sinaran” and Fauziah Latiff’s “Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu“.
Many of the mixtape’s contributors will be coming down to Artebar at TREC this Saturday, so drop by to scope out the guys over at HOAX Vision.
Keeping us accompanied during the evening haze is “Lost”, a new release from hip-hop newcomer Kayczar (also former writer at The Daily Seni).
During time in Kuala Lumpur for a university placement, young Johorean student and emcee Kavinish Nair found bigger opportunity to immerse himself in the Malaysian urban music scene and further refine his sound. Kayczar’s exposure to Kuala Lumpur hip-hop and his search for Johorean identity in the genre manifests in his track’s theme: his hometown.
Addressing Johor Bahru (“voiced” by an alluring ZSYIA), Kayczar is leaving to seek greener pastures but he promises to call, and maybe even return one day.
“Lost” mostly concerns itself with the struggles of intra-state migration but presents this with refreshing honesty through Kayczar’s personal verses. It’s also this sense of identity and truth which differentiates his wordplay from peers and contemporaries.
The self-produced track, put online on 9 July 2016, was written six months ago and recorded in his bedroom studio. It pre-empts the release of his debut mixtape Excursions due Sunday.