INDIE five-piece Pitahati is Malaysia’s freshest, most promising face of Malay-language rock at the moment.
Approaching psychedelic rock with a uniquely nusantara vision, the band rose to prominence in 2014 when they were contracted to score Nik Amir Mustapha‘s Terbaik Dari Langit. Their work went on to receive a nod at last year’s Festival Filem Malaysia, pushing the band into mainstream consciousness.
Pitahati’s new-found acclaim however has been long overdue, given that the band first formed in 2002 as Hati.
Initially consisting of Ilham, Yasin and Khairul, Hati was an outlet for three school-going boys to experiment with music that fascinated them. After adding band member Afifi to the mix, the band rebranded as Pitahati in 2006.
Currently comprising band members Ilham, Yasin, Zaha, Masrin and Hidayat, it’s worth noting that Pitahati has always challenged perceptions of Malaysian rock with their daring sound and keenness for collaboration.
In retrospect, keeping a low profile for 14 years has been quite a feat as at least three sons of veteran musician M. Nasir play pivotal roles in the band — Ilham, Yasin and Hidayat however are known for consistently and formally referring to their father as “Datuk M. Nasir” during meetings with the press, indicating refusal to build recognition on anything but the band’s creative output.
But if decade-long releases like “Bintang Biru Kristal Salju” played too closely with allegories for drug use (an exceptionally common source for material in the genre), the new and improved Pitahati prefers to take their inspiration from the environment they live and breathe.
Latest album Selamat Datang ke Panggung Suara — which first made rounds in the Kuala Lumpur vinyl collectors’ scene in February due to an early LP release — has started appearing in selected locations in CD format as of last month. At present, fans wanting a sure copy can simply head to the band’s label in Sungai Buloh.
The record, done in live takes by the band as a whole, promises a more acoustic theme inspired by Terbaik Dari Langit, as formerly reported. Dubbed “lagu kapok layan tepi tembok”, Pitahati’s sound on Selamat Datang ke Panggung Suara will combine the band’s more experimental approach and the musical direction explored in the award-winning film.
Among better-known tracks from the album include “Sahabat”, a single released in 2014 to promote Terbaik Dari Langit, and album cut “Hafiz Sufian” which can now be requested on local radio station HotFM.
Selamat Datang ke Panggung Suara can be previewed through the band’s livestream from 19 March 2016 at Rojak Session, currently available for replay on Youtube.
Highly-positive word of mouth and a celebrity fanbase has reinforced hype for the band’s latest studio effort but its members remain carefree as evident during their visit to The Daily Seni‘s offices last month.
Here are facts and findings on the band obtained via interviews conducted by local creatives Nazreen Abraham Stein, Arlina Anwar and Yati SV.
10 things to know about Pitahati!
1. Though they occasionally tread avant-garde territory by using a diverse bank of sounds comprising unusual instruments, Pitahati is not an avant-garde band. Their compositions may have experimental elements but they are still rooted within the familiar — band recordings still maintain an accessibility which keeps them under the radar of major radio stations and the mainstream.
2. Yes, you can call them our version of Pink Floyd, adept at combining psychedelic blues rock influences with prog-rock, but Pitahati is very much a genre of their own. The band is bold in highlighting nusantara melodies.
3. The band’s name literally translates to “heart tapes”, or put more poetically, “tape recordings of the heart”. And their fans are called “pendengar hati”, or “listeners of the heart”.
4. Lyrically, Pitahati prefers simple and easily-understood Bahasa as they intend for their songs and stories to reach a wider audiences. Their lyrics however have a sort of delicate vagueness, leaving room for personal interpretations. Fans may label Pitahati’s songwriting with words like “deep” and “heavy”, but frontman Ilham insists this is only because command of the Malay language has deteriorated among newer generations.
5. The band chose to release their latest album in vinyl before a CD release, a decision they pin down on sound quality. On vinyl, they preserve every little detail during recording for authenticity. Plus the nostalgic crackling of needles skipping across a 12″ record adds character to these already rich tunes.
6. Pitahati’s favourite track from the album is “Hafiz Sufian”, a track for written for Terbaik Dari Langit‘s protagonist because it revolves around the dilemma of a misunderstood poet with secrets of his own. According to the band, the song tells the story of someone who has a divine muse but others believe he’s gone insane.
7. If given a choice to perform at any place of their choice, the band cites a castle in Perak. Inspired by Pink Floyd’s Live in Pompeii, Pitahati too would like to perform with an intricate light show, backed by giant sculptures.
8. The band sometimes makes mistakes during their performances, as evident in an early March gig at Live Fact. But due to their charisma and knack for improvisation, they manage to sway fans to sing along and help themselves on stage, coming off stronger and even more approachable in the process.
9. Pitahati aren’t massive fans of acoustic sets, because they rely on live sound processing and special effects to achieve their full sound. They however look forward to working and experimenting with an orchestra in the future.
10. Ilham’s favourite local movies include Dain Said‘s Bunohan, Joko Anwar‘s Kala, and P. Ramlee‘s Panggilan Pulau. Yasin and Hidayat meanwhile are fans of U-Wei Haji Saari‘s Perempuan, Isteri dan Jalang and Kaki Bakar.
Follow Pitahati on Facebook and Instagram for more details! Selamat Datang ke Panggung Suara can now be obtained in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor from Teenage Head Records, Subang Jaya; Crossroads Records, Kota Damansara; Luncai Emas, Sungai Buloh; Hardgraft Records, Petaling Jaya; Bonecollectorstoretwo, Ara Damansara; Projek Rabak Gallery, Wisma Central; Basement Records, Bukit Bintang; Rawk of Ages Record Store, Kompleks Campbell; and Tandang Store, Ampang. For stores in other states including Pulau Pinang, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah, visit the band’s Facebook page.