Posts Tagged ‘ Shh…Diam! ’

Shh…Diam! @ Doppel Cafe, KL – 5/1/2012

Just a quiet night out at a new venue in the Central Market Annexe.

36 min 14 sec / 49.7MB / 192kbps MP3
Shh…Diam! playing acoustic (but still plugged in, obviously). A few covers of other people’s songs, a few covers of their own songs, lots of talking and general silliness. Just a bit of fun shared between the band and about 15 friends.

Youth Revival Vol. 3 @ Shalien Studio, Kuantan – 24/12/2011

Instead of going to the gathering outside the Indonesian Embassy in KL in solidarity with the Aceh punks that were detained and “reformed” last week, I followed my friends Shh…Diam! on another of their road trips to play a gig on the east coast – this time in Kuantan. There were a lot of bands playing, but I recorded these four and two others but those recordings aren’t uploaded (yet) because I don’t actually know the name of the bands.

Loop Analysis
37 min 27 sec / 51.4 MB / 192kbps MP3
Just before Loop Analysis started, the guy in the band closest to a microphone introduced the band as a post-rock band. The last song on Magic Dirt’s Young and Full of the Devil, is an instrumental version of the first song off the album – Babycakes. If you can take that as a reference point, you can start to understand the kind of “post-rock” Loop Analysis play – the more noisy, heavy, grunge form of “post-rock”. Three guitarists, a bass player and a drummer experimenting with a bunch of different ways to make noise with their instruments (for example, using a cello/violin bow). And at one point, they sound like they’re playing Zombie.

The Midnight Meeting
12 min 19 sec / 16.9 MB / 192kbps MP3
I started recording the Midnight Meeting just before they played a “Poster the People” cover. I had no idea who Poster the People were until I went home and googled “Poster the People” and google told me that I was probably looking for “Foster the People”. Of course, that Malay tendency to make F’s into P’s. I also had no idea who Foster the People were anyway, but maybe it sounds a little bit like the Midnight Meeting.

Reason to Resist
22 min 17 sec / 30.6 MB / 192kbps MP3
There’s nothing like a bit of crust to make me feel seventeen years old again. If I was to describe Reason to Resist with 2007 references, they are thrashier than Scum System Kill but crustier than Smash N Grab.

24 min 38 sec / 33.8 MB / 192kbps MP3
Finally, I have a recording of Shh…Diam! in their rockstar mode (as opposed to their acoustic mode and other less noisy modes). The vocals sound a bit weird on this recording, like the treble got cut out, but maybe I’m just underestimating Farah’s low register. As usual, they were just a lot of fun to watch and listen too.

Love Out Loud @ “Secret Venue”, 13/11/2011

For Hari Raya Haji (aka Eid al-Adha), I left KL to follow my friend back to his kampung in Kelantan for the holiday celebrations. While I was away, shit went crazy in KL (and then the rest of the country) over Seksualiti Merdeka. To summarise, Seksualiti Merdeka is a yearly sexuality rights festival, which features talks, forums, workshops, art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and other interesting events organised by activists, NGOs, artists and other cool people. Its been happening for a few years now, without much problem, but this year some right-wing NGOs filed a bunch of police reports claiming that Seksualiti Merdeka was a threat to national security. The festival got debated in parliament and the police ended up banning the festival. Over the next few days, you couldn’t open a newspaper without finding pages of articles about spokespersons from all sorts of political and religious groups supporting the police and joining in with the gay-hating trend that seemed to have swept the country. People said that homosexuality was against the values of Malaysia and was a threat to national security. One guy from some religious organisation in Kedah said that all gay Malaysians should be deported. “The Guru” Nik Aziz, in his infinite wisdom, said that if we allow human rights for homosexuals we’d soon have to give people the right to rape, steal and murder. In those couple of days, I angrily read more Malay newspapers than I’d ever read before (as that was all I had access to in Kelantan). Among other things, it was good for learning Malay.

Which brings us to this concert. There was always going to be an awesome concert with Shh…Diam! and Shelah and other awesome people but since the festival had been banned and made illegal, this event, as well as many others, were moved from the Central Market Annexe to various “secret venues”.

13 min 16 sec / 18.2 MB / 192kbps MP3
Although I’ve seen them about a hundred times, this is the first time I’ve recorded Shh…Diam! This time was a little different, the drummer was playing bass and a friend from another band was playing drums. I probably lost my shit seeing Farah Saad wearing a dress for the first time. But she nicely balanced out any extremes in femininity with a nice fake mustache. There was a lot of dancing and singing and clapping along. Which was awesome, but it means that the recording has lots of out of time clapping from people standing very close to me. But if you can get past that, you’ll find Shh…Diam! covering a Lady Gaga song, which is pretty special – I think.

Earlier in the day, I attended a really interesting panel discussion. The panelists were LGBT people and their parents. One of my friends was a panelist. The host read out one of my friend’s tweets and asked his mother what she thought about her son tweeting such things out into the world. The tweet said:

24 Sept, 2:27pm
sitting in a boardroom meeting n right across the table there’s a hot person… can’t concentrate in meeting… just thinking of a kiss… oh man.

I’m pretty good at remembering dates. I immediately looked at my friend and he looked at me. Internally, we burst out laughing.

And his mum was cool with it.

The Guitarist Tunes Up

Hello, we’re Krisis Halusinasi and we’re really boring to watch.

I must admit, I’ve never really been into the ‘Battle of the Bands’ thing. The idea of bands ‘battling’ never made much sense. I’ve always thought of music as a way for us to express ourselves, communicate with each other and also just as a way to get together and have fun. So I hope that the bands that have been ‘battling’ have still been having fun today and making friends and supporting each other.

As I said, we’re a really boring band to watch so you might want to take the next twenty-five minutes to just close your eyes and get lost in your thoughts. If you need a point for your for your thoughts to begin their wandering, as usual, we think the continuing struggles of people for freedom as a good place to start. In the last week we’ve seen such examples all over the world, from Libya to Syria and, closer to here, in Pahang and Bukit Jalil.

Ok. That’s all.

Two Thursday afternoons ago (31/3/2011), Krisis Halusinasi played as one of the ‘special guest’ bands at a battle of the bands at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak. Although I knew we were going to be playing that show on that day a couple of weeks before I didn’t find out the specifics until after 11am the night before. At first I was reluctant and trying to find the best excuse to say no, I found out that our name was on some banner and we were getting free t-shirts. I wanted a free t-shirt.

I was reluctant to play because doing so would mean skipping my Islamic Historiography lecture again and they actually mark attendance to lectures at UM. But, I guess once you go to some of Mina Roces’s lectures nothing else compares – and I was promised a free t-shirt – so I decided to skip school to play music at someone else’s school.

The free t-shirt was really cool. I think I was just really excited by the fact that someone designed and printed a shirt with my band name on it (and a bunch of other band names too). No one (except) has ever done that before, the only shirts that have been made with my band name on it are ones I made myself back when I was fifteen and playing in my first ‘real’ band. I guess that means that I’m still just as excited about this stuff as I was when I was fifteen.

The show was held in an outdoor area of the university, kind of in the middle of a big food court – there were restaurants and tables/chairs along the borders of the square where all the stuff was happening. If you know UNSW then its kind of comparable to having a show on the library lawn, except there’s no lawn, just tiling, and instead of the area being surrounded by Morvern Brown building and that other building that you can print your academic record at, its surrounded by food.

So there we were, three ‘punks’ straight out of the warehouse, sitting drinking our teh o’ ais (or nescafe o’ ais) super nervous because we’d never played anything like this before and had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into and how we even got into it in the first place. And I think that’s what I liked most about the show. The fact that I’d never ever done anything like that before. The fact we were just playing in some random outdoor area in the middle of a university at 3pm on a Thursday. Just any other normal Thursday afternoon except some people had the awesome idea of setting up some music equipment and asking some bands to play. Space + Equipment + People. Such a simple equation, it doesn’t make sense that most of the time people make it more complicated than it really is.

And playing our music to people that might not ever come to Gudang Noisy any other place where it would be usual for us to play. That was enjoyable. Even if it seemed the number of people standing in front of the stage dropped when we started playing and then increased after we played. It was also just damn cool looking up while I was playing to see a lot of workers in uniform standing up close to watch us. Post-rock for the proletariat!!

It seems that people who do these self-review type things always have to talk about the venue’s sound, so I’ll abide by the etiquette. The sound wasn’t really that good. I’m not sure why, but I was told not to turn the amp up higher than one. But I had it about three, which still probably wasn’t loud enough. Maybe it was because it was in an outdoor space. Honestly, I don’t really care that much, I’m willing to sacrifice on sound to experience playing in that place at that time. Nothing will compare to my love for the ridiculous reverb of Gudang Noisy.

I found out on the weekend that the guy who organised it received eighteen complaints about the show. I assume they’re probably noise complaints of some sort. It makes me a little bit sad to hear about that because I think its such a good idea and having shows in such spaces should take place a lot more often and all over the place. There were eighteen complaints but I assume there would be many many more compliments. Its bad that sometimes the complaints stick out more than the compliments.

I don’t think any video or photos or audio exists of us playing this show but if you want to see what it looked like there’s a video of Shh…Diam! playing. So you can watch that and just imagine it’s Krisis Halusinasi instead.

Kelate trip with Shh…Diam!

Last weekend (April 8-10), I was fortunate enough to tag along on Shh…Diam!‘s mini trip to Kelantan to play a show in Kota Bharu. I got an sms late on the Monday before inviting me to come along to which I replied: “I’ve never been to Kelantan before. But of course I’d like to. Because I’m Luka from API! It sounds scary. Will there be any problems with a kafir travelling around with some Muslim girls? Or is it all just hype?”

Maybe this needs some explanation. The state of Kelantan, up on the far north-east coast, has quite a reputation for being the most religiously conservative part of Malaysia and for most of the time since independence has been ruled by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) which I guess is pretty self-explanatory. So, it fits nicely with jokes about me being a student at the Academy of Islamic Studies (API). Though at the same time, if recent events in KL are anything to go by, going somewhere with a much more conservative reputation than KL, travelling (i.e. sharing rooms, etc.) with Malay (and, by the Malaysian Constitution, therefore Muslim) girls is not without at least a little bit of worry. Anyway, all that aside, I wanted to try some of this east-coast, unfederated, PAS flavour and if it meant being an accessory to breaking some hukum syariah then it just adds to the sense of adventure.

While the other nine people in the crew had organised to take the train up to Kelantan, tickets had run out by the time it got to me so it was planned for me to take the bus up alone. Usually this wouldn’t be too bad, but it would mean getting to Kota Bharu at about 5am – five hours before everyone else. The thought of spending five hours alone in the early morning in a brand new city I’d never been to before, of people speaking a dialect of a language I barely have a grasp of in any dialect, was really scary. That’s another thing Kelantan has a reputation for – people speaking funny. When I got to KL Sentral to get my ticket from the rest of the crew, it turned out that two of us were too late for the train, so I got a train ticket and the other two had to get a bus. So in the end no one had to be alone and scared!

We got on a train. Stuff happened. We talked loud. We laughed loud. We got confused as to why the train would go all the way to Gemas on the border of Negeri Sembilan and Johor (the southernmost state of Malaysia) before going to Kelantan (the furthest north-east state of Malaysia). Other stuff happened. We slept. We woke up to a train food salesperson walking down the aisle letting everyone know he was selling ‘bayhun gohe’ (bihun goreng). And finally, after about 13 hours or so, we got off the train at Wakaf Bharu.

At Wakaf Bharu we took the obligatory tour photo in front of the train station sign and hung around long enough for a bunch of dudes to come up to one of us, with one of the dudes pulling out some offiicial looking badge for some sort of authority in the manner that meant he was we going to get us in some sort of trouble. The rest of us had no idea what was going on, as we couldn’t see the badge and couldn’t hear what he was saying. Does the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 1993 prescribe a special welcome to new visitors? Turns out it was just some crew from the Jabatan Kesihatan (Health Department) giving out fines for smoking in the open air of a train station. I don’t know what a dude crew from the Health Department were doing at a train station and of all places to get fined for smoking, in a country where its pretty much normal for people to smoke anywhere indoors, an outdoor train station was where it was at.

We then made our way into a town centre of sorts in Wakaf Bharu. Which included walking past a brown cow (to whom, in need of some direction, I asked: “How now?”) and crossing some train tracks, living out fantasies of photo shoots with Godspeed You! Black Emperor but without the photo shoot part nor the Godspeed part. It would have made for some nice post-rock cliché photos though. We did however get a photo of a sign outside a store that said: “Makanan bukan bagi orang Islam” (food not for Muslims), which was kind of an unexpected introduction to Kelantan.

After getting on the bus from Wakaf Bharu into Kota Bharu to meet the other two of the crew who’d apparently spent the last four or so hours at McDonalds waiting for us I got to think about some first impressions of this new place. The government propaganda was a lot more ‘Islamic’ than it is in KL. Whereas in KL it seems more nationalist, with slogans such as “Cintalah bahasa kebangsaan kita” (love our national language), Kelantan government propaganda had slogans such as “Membangun bersama Islam” (Develop with Islam – ?), “Kota Bharu bandar raya Islam” (Islamic city of Kota Bharu), and the slightly ambiguous “Hijau itu Indah” (green is beautiful). Ok, maybe the last one is not actually associated with Islam, but still, I think it is quite ambiguous. Also, the usage of Jawi (the variant of the Arabic script sometimes used to write Malay) was a lot more common than I’ve noticed in other parts of Malaysia. It was also used in writing English and Chinese names of shops. I thought this was pretty hilarious. Some examples were: جوليانا كوليكشن (Juliana Collection) and ناڃرال فاكيجيڠ عين سفليس (Natural Packaging and Supplies) as well as the local تيسكو (Tesco) where you could probably buy a كوكاكولا (Coca-Cola).

I also noticed the difference of just being in a smaller town. In a way Kota Bharu reminded me a little bit of being in some of the smaller towns I’ve visited in northern Thailand like Khon Kaen and Chiang Rai, but its been a while since I actually went to those places so maybe it reminds me what I think they are like rather than what they’re actually are. But even with that possible comparison, Kota Bharu still had an obviously Malay and Muslim feel to it because of the architecture and the masjids and all that stuff. I’ve never noticed them anywhere else, but in Kota Bharu and in other parts of Kelantan I noticed that at the top of their arches that they’ve for some reason erected in parts of their towns is a statue of an open Quran. Maybe its just a Kelantan thing. Anyway, it was a nice change being in a smaller town. It also generally felt a lot cleaner and less grimy than KL.

Some time around here we went to eat and so quickly learnt some basic Baso Kelate (Kelantanese dialect) as we were ordering. I ate a really bad nasi kerabu which was more like a flavourless nasi goreng cina. We then went to the venue – Hotel Rebana – where Shh…Diam! had a quick sound check and we got keys to some rooms in the hotel. I then ended up hiding in the room for a bit where I think I actually watched the all of Piranha 2, part of an episode of Nature, Inc. that was about organic farmers’ associations in the Congo and also had some random old guy walk in and then apologise and walk back out. After that I figured I should probably lock the door.

The venue actually wasn’t what I was expecting. When I heard the name “Hotel Rebana”, I immediately pictured something from my Australian context – alcohol, pool tables and general shitness a la the Lansdowne Hotel. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier that obviously this sort of ‘hotel’ is not going to exist in Kelantan. So Hotel Rebana turned out to be a hotel, in the sense that the word ‘hotel’ is usually used for places that aren’t Australian pubs, and this one was maybe a little bit nicer than your budget guest house. The room that the gig was in was downstairs at the front of the hotel. I’m not sure what they use this room for on other days and in general it was a bit of a weird place for a show to be held. But a room with a PA is a room with a PA and this room shouldn’t be any more or less weird than a shop lot in Ampang or a warehouse in Sydney’s Inner West.

So after hiding in the room until I was getting restless I went downstairs with the crew, mainly because they wanted to go eat somewhere and that sounded like a good idea. I think most of us were still a little bit scared of all the new faces staring at us and probably also because over ninety-five per cent of those new and staring faces were dudes’ staring faces. It was interesting though that of all the women at the show, most of them had some important part to play. Of maybe less than twenty women there, many were in bands, some were on merch tables or at the door, the ‘stage manager’ was a woman, as was the MC.

The first band I actually stepped inside to watch were Mad Monster’s Attack who are one of those metalcore bands mixing it up with dance/electronic beats and synths in that way that Attack! Attack! are famous for. It was kind of awesome standing at the back and watching so many people actually dancing to music. Of course there was still the macho level which generally comes with the whole metalcore thing, but its down with much more style and rhythm than your standard mosh. I like to think of it as some sort of mosh/krump crossover.

I also stuck around for the next band who were from Terengganu and did the whole metalcore thing and had one of those metalcore style names. I think Dead Eyes Glow was their name. Just close your eyes and imagine a metalcore band that you’ve seen before. Its probably close enough to what I saw on Saturday.

After metalcore band was… Shh…Diam! (ess-haytch-haytch-dot-dot-dot-dee-eye-ay-em-exclamation-mark) who were just really really fun. If you’ve ever seen them anywhere you probably know already how fun it can be dancing and bouncing around with a whole bunch of people while they play their songs. I actually got to experience it for the first time on my fourth or fifth day in Malaysia when they turned up to play acoustic for a hot and sweaty Pustaka Semesta. Anyway, that’s all common knowledge in the public domain. What I really want to write about it the amazingly high level a lot of the dancing during their set rates on the ‘homoerotic scale’. Now I’m not talking about dudes hugging each other in sweaty mosh bro-ship and the homoerotic undertones. No, no. I’m talking about dudes gyrating and grinding dangdut seksi style up close against each other! I even got pushed up against the wall at one point while dancing with some guy. At first I was totally surprised by it, but then… “eh, fuck yeah!”. I must admit, I was not expecting this in Kelantan. Maybe with all this action going on the Kelantan equilibrium had to be sorted out and so at one point during the set, Shh…Diam! actually stopped for a couple of minutes because of azan.

After Shh…Diam!, Subculture played. Krisis Halusinasi actually played with them a couple of weeks ago at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak. Before I knew who they were, I heard someone describe them as ‘old-man punk rock’. Well, they are ‘old men’ playing some form of ‘punk rock’ in that Green Day (old and new) kind of style and they cover Blink 182, Rancid and Green Day, so I guess its pretty ‘old man punk rock’ enough. While they were fun to dance and sing along too, it was quite disappointing, especially after Shh…Diam! had just exploded the place in dancing chaos, to hear them address the audience every time as abe-abe (brothers).

During Subculture’s set I went back outside where I somehow started talking to a few guys. Somehow I asked if my band could come and play a show here up in Kota Bharu and told them about my band, it was discovered that one of the guys I was talking to plays in a post-rock band up in Kelantan called Givenpath (and now, after looking them up on the net, I find out they actually played on Saturday as well but I missed them!). We talked about possibly doing a show together up in Kelantan later in the year some time, maybe June or July. I asked about shows in general up in Kelantan and was told that shows don’t happen very often, as its hard to do shows in Kelantan – which the person I was talking to attributed to PAS government. Maybe the sparseness of shows was a reason behind why there were so many people at the show. I was also told that your general ‘punk’ is more accepted here rather than other associated genres like post-rock.

I would have loved to have stayed longer to talk more about music and life under a PAS government up in the north-east but the crew were all going off to dinner and shisha and so I decided to follow. On the way we drove past the football stadium while a lot of people were leaving and we found out that Kelantan beat Felda United six-nil. I don’t usually go to soccer games but I’d go to a Kelantan game. I hear Kelantan fans are to soccer as Collingwood fans are to AFL – except with more riots.

At the restaurant I played invisible soccer with one of the kids of the owner and then got the usual interview from the rest of the family – Where are you from? How old are you? How long have you been in Malaysia? What do you study? What is your religion?, etc. etc. and thankfully I had a local friend of a friend there to help translate any of the Baso Kelate I couldn’t pick up on.

Sleep time!

The next morning we had to get up really early to get our bus at 9.00am or 9.30am, I can’t remember, but I do remember that the bus ended up coming at least half an hour late. We had breakfast in this dark little restaurant that kind of creeped me out when we first went in because it was quite full and everyone except maybe one customer and two workers were men. Men who stare at people like us. But that was ok because I got to eat some real nasi kerabu, none of that fake nasi kerabu that I had the day before. While waiting, Farah and I went off and explored some of the nearby bakeries. There were many kedai kek dan roti in that little area near the bus stop. Does Kelantan like cake? In one of the bakeries we somehow managed to buy a large plastic bag full of assorted cakes and buns and donuts for two ringgit (they were cooked the day before). For bus-time eating party, of course.

The bus-time back down the east coast back to KL was nice. I think everything – all the kampungs, the hills, the trees – just looks a little bit nicer when its wet and covered in grey.

And back home, while Shh…Diam! seem to have collected many more Facebook ‘friends’ I have gained one extra ‘friend’ who hasn’t said anything other than ask me if I have a Leftover Crack, Choking Victim or Star Fucking Hipsters shirt because he would like to buy it off me. Why?

(I’ll add some photos soon, maybe).