With Takahara Suiko releasing two songs under her alter-ego, Viona Vernett; new band Margosa entering into the scene; and the return of indie sweetheart Grey Sky Morning, we’ve got a lot in store for you this week! Follow our Spotify profile for more music updates by clicking here
Dansa Persona – Grey Sky Morning
Since their Pancaroba EP back in 2009, Grey Sky Morning have been getting by with solid indie singles like Cinta Gila and Pancaroba. The band maintained their presence as an indie staple from the wave of the early 2000s through ecstatic live performances and songs that just never got old. But classics tend to take to the background, as newer and newer artists come into the mix. That’s why when Dansa Persona was announced, we were all freaking excited to see what the band has to offer. Dansa Persona preserves the same knack for jangly, catchy riffs that GSM is known for but has the added benefit of feeling fuller than their previous EP tracks. It doesn’t pop or shakes as much as a lot of dance rock out there, but Dansa Persona takes the rein of our nostalgia simply for sounding like if Alleycats played indie rock.
Free – DANGERDISKO X Q SOUND
Free is Dangerdisko with less of a New Wave vibe, as it orients closer towards the simple 80s dance groove. It’s always interesting which of their infuences are most apparent in each since the band takes pride in trying to make music that is undefinable. Free is soul food, mostly due to Q Sound’s Aloe Blacc-esque vocals. The song hearkens back to all of those electronica duos that derive their influences from the 80s, like Chromeo, Toro y Moi or funky Calvin Harris. But the vibe holds much more candour than top 40 EDM with Shaheed Naz and Robotoron 5000’s production and writing that pushes the song to another level. With the bass line interspersed by beautiful tweaks like the women backing vocals in the middle of the song, Dangerdisko serves the best of nu disco in recent times with Free.
Podcast – lurkgurl
Lurkgurl’s love letter to educational podcast Radiolab is spliced with dreamy affectations, showing itself through samples of all the cliches of podcasts. Khadijah Juswil saying “Hello, welcome to the podcast, my name is Khadijah Juswil, thank you for joining us to day” is so subtly alluring and adorable. The dream-laced guitars makes it sound like a podcast broadcasted from an alternate dimension where the rainbows are weirdly coloured and people look like Picasso paintings. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether she’s making fun of the format or paying tribute to it (although it’s probably the former since she’s part of the ‘Jad Abumrad (Radiolab host) Fan Club), but all we know is that lurkgurl’s sense of humour makes this track worth a listen – probably after tirelessly listening to that Radiolab episode about ‘Colours’.
Kotacinta – Margosa
New band Margosa is another ensemble from SOG Productions, looking to leave their mark on the music scene by combining substantive poetry and intriguing Nusantara-inspired musical productions. They released two singles simultaneously, probably to show the two different aspects to their sound. Kotacinta is the part of their sonic makeup that speaks more closely to jiwang pop of the early 2000s, or the likes of Wany Hasrita today. It’s a well-made song, but that is only really held together by Resya’s strong vocal timbre and the lyricism. The track is elevated by that almost mystical sense of poetry, creating a city of love (aka Kotacinta) as the place for all of the singer’s past memories to be kept (Kan ku abadikan semua ini Di dalam sebuah kotacinta). Other than that, Kotacinta is an okay track, but as a welcoming anthem to Margosa’s arrival to the music scene, I’m still excited to see more of Resya’s writing in the future of the band.
Safe Haven – Margosa
In our opinion, the superior track out of the two singles, essentially because the electronic productions and the robot-voice bridge sort of places them in this realm of an age where The Cranberries explored their synthesizers more or had access to Ableton. In other words, it’s Margosa with a unique identity. Resya has a chance to show off more of her pipes here, and all of the guitars come in nicely to add a certain traditional rock sound to it on top of the other sbtle innovations. Some people might find the ‘MIDI’ sound slightly off-putting, but it adds to that digital balladeer aura that works so well with the rest of the mix – resembling Resya’s stoic demeanour in the face of having build a wall around herself as she faces somewhat impending doom.
Love – Leaism
Ilyahida and her character Leaism is one of the most underrated voices in the Malaysian music in terms of artistry. Even when she was known as Lea Ismail and singing jazz pop bops like Langkah Baru she already won our hearts with that voice. However Leaism takes the mold further. Her penchant for combining alternative modern sounds with soulful affectations gives her a smoky vibe that transcends generic lounge bar singers. When Leaism sings Love her message is spiritual. Not only that, not a single moment in this track feels redundant or unnecessary – from the clap loops all the way to the harmonies and the guitar – Love feels like a large group of people coming together to give birth to a creative ode to love (‘The universe we share shouldn’t be wasted away). It’s beautiful.
4.2 / 5
Chinta – MonoloQue & NJWA
Here’s another song about love on our list this week! MonoloQue’s song Chinta is given new life in this duet with NJWA. Every essence about the original song by LoQue remains in this beautiful gamelan love song but in some ways also become more engaging as NJWA adds her own touch to it in her part, especially around the 3rd minute where the LoQue and NJWA’s voice sort of dance around each other harmoniously. Just another wonderful version to an already great song.
Dancing Shoes – RYOTJONES
Goddamn, RYOTJONES is a breath of fresh air. Dancing Shoes is a funky, exciting helter-skelter of a song. Everything in this song feels deliberate and punchy. Most of the time, attempts at funk pop fall into generic drivel or bland musicality, but Dancing Shoes packs a personality. From the bass and keys intro to the time the horns come in, you know you’re in for a ride. It’s the big band quality to this song that accentuates the band’s vibe and it all works really well. Not forgetting to mention, Kyren Thoma’s vocals never falls short from the rest of the band and leads it with charisma (slightly untrained James Brown vibe coming to life here). And when the song slows down, and Kyren sings ‘They say Stevie wouldn’t play for you, They say Michael wouldn’t sing for you’, it feels like a whole justified tribute towards all of the inspirations that made them who they are. RYOT JONES got us dancing, and anticipating for more!
4.3 / 5
Srikandi – VIONA
Takahara Suiko of the Venopian Solitude always talks about being influenced by Kimbra or tUnE-yArDs, and it peeks out here and there in all of her songs. But Takahara’s solo project alter-ego, VIONA is just early tUnE-yArDs all over – possibly more stripped down; maybe even more unabashedly bright and child-like. VIONA doesn’t feel like the manic penglipur lara Nona Gila persona that is the leader of The Venopian Solitude. VIONA is more Dr. Seuss-esque, spreading message of self-confidence with peppy predispositions without the aid of menacing percussions to intimidate her foes. It’s pretty cool. This song about women who want to shatter the ‘damsel-in-distress’ stereotype into pieces makes you feel alive (I mean with all of those crazy xylophones and deranged harmonies how can you not). The only minor drawback would be the fact that it all ends pretty quick and sometimes comes as just so many disparate parts gelled messily into one. There aren’t ‘moments’ in this song that lend to the potential epic-ness a song about superheroines can be. But maybe the intended nature of the track’s minimal nature is to emphasize the lyrics, which are as well-written as any of Takahara’s previous songs) [Walaupun beratus beribu hujan peluru payungku berbalut geliga minda lebih perkasa]. All the humour and self-awareness that VIONA possess lends this song its inimitable charm, but at some point I feel like this song deserves a bit more than a solo rendition.
All-in-all, this song is definitely a feminist anthem that will ring in our heads for quite a while.
Masalah – VIONA
Prolific solo singer-songwriter persona of Takahara Suiko – VIONA enters into the realm of darker productions in this track about troublemaking critters infected by the irritating disease of hate. She jumps to the other end of the bridge over her creative river in this one, sticking closer to the angry vocal style reminiscent of her TVS (The Venopian Solitude) tracks like The Leading Reaper. Hence, it suits her lyrical abrasiveness – like Takahara Suiko, when VIONA is frustrated, she goes all out. Masalah is a song that feels like a hellish transformation – like the bubbly brightside of VIONA in Srikandi shedding her mortal shell just to show her true demonic form. This demonic form traipses around with dirty drums, synths and guitars. All of this is super-satisfying and makes me imagine that VIONA leads a rock kapak band – like Spider who is not embarrassed by their CASIO keyboard. The track feels urgent, apocalyptic, and when the ending (of the song) approaches, everything blends into a boiling pot of infectious addictions – sharing many similar traits with the schadenfreude timeline VIONA is criticizing. I’m sorry if this sounds a bit dramatic, I’m just excited and I have this song on repeat.
I’m Not Good At Being Alone Anymore – Pasca Sini
In the wave of emo revival in Malaysia, Pasca Sini is one of the bands that have the genre in the bag. From the acoustic guitar that starts off the track to the subject matter of divorce (decisions being made, the lawyers being paid) being at the centre of this track, Syawal’s vocals that combine passion-filled grit and lethargic resignation is just the cherry on top to this textbook emo sundae. The little digital sounds that become more apparent as the song wraps up gives the song a unique facet of melancholy, especially when positioned before the screams plead “call your name” and “be the same”. It definitely does not have the sheen or the inventiveness of their other singles from Everything Looks Cooler in Japanese like The Best Sides and Berpeluwang. It’s honest and relatable to those who have broken families or are going through relationship troubles, and it really doesn’t try to be anything more than that as a song. It’s an alright song so maybe it doesn’t have to.
Yakin – Asyraff Firzan ft. Mira Mesli & Pozy Plague
Asyraff Firzan’s new single to tease his new album is this somber reminder to be confident that could find its place may be in a sporting event of a small scale. Asyraff is not a bad storyteller. His flow is slow but the message is clear. That being said, there is something pretty off with the decision to make this rap song organic with actual drums as opposed to electronic soundscapes. Then there’s the fact that this song feels like a ballad. The decision inherently has great potential. There are some lines in this track that are pretty cool and inspiring. The collaborative composition between Asyraff, Mira Mesli & Pozy Plague come off well lyrically. But this song is a half-baked anthem – it stops short at being a more bombastic song, or a big ballad that could really drive the nail through. But it’s small, and inexplicably sayu for a song about confidence. Still looking forward to more Asyraff Firzan’s work to see what else he could add to his songwriting and rapping abilities.
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Q Sound is the vocals to the song ‘Free’. Shaheed Naz and Robotron 5000 of Danger Disko writes and produces the song.