GERODOK / KERNA DIA – Split-CD-R
Gerodok / Kerna Dia
Split Fucking Demo-Lition CD-R
(Avail Records / GustixKatilxDistro)
At first glance this CD-R looks like another grind/crusty/d-beat/anarcho release. All black’n’white with fearsome skulls and bones. I was expecting dark blast beats, bottomless belly-scraping roar and a lot of the typical “extremity”; but what I get, pleasantly, is a fine set of three-chords simplistic melodic street-punk!
It may have been a while since this CD-R was released as I have seen some local zines reviewing it. I only got it last January, from Iem of Avail Records when I was there hanging out with him and friends in fair Kota Kinabalu. He also gave me the Hasrat tape which I still can’t listen to at the moment (my tape player is still very kaput).
Anyway, Iem told me to pay particular attention to one song on this split, a tune called Bulan 8 Di Sandakan. According to him the song has been covered to death by a lot of bands in Northeast Borneo, so much so that people can’t tell who actually wrote the song! “Well, here’s the original article,” said Iem. So next time you hear the song, remember the name Gerodok, because it is them who were responsible.
Bulan 8 Di Sandakan (The Month of August in Sandakan) is actually a love song, an ode to a relationship gone wrong, a tune which celebrates the memories in that rubble. Build upon an easy-skanking mid-tempo riff, it is a bit like Jamaican lovers rock being ineptly punked-up. I think the whole lot of it is built upon ACAB’s Unfairground intro somehow.
Whatever it is, the song is easily popular among the kids of Sabah. It’s charmingly simple, full of crappy mistakes, bad singing, really annoying backing vocals and all that earnest innocent sentimentality (yup! exactly the same characteristic with Boo Hoo Clapping Song!). But it doesn’t matter as it reaches out to anyone, hell, even makcik-makcik would get into it with gusto. I can see this being played by drunken bands at all the infamous drunken wedding parties of Sabah and I can see everyone young and old skanking hard to it!
This CD-R (wrapped nicely in a one-sided pro-printed sleeve and an A4 sheet of lyrics) features 12 songs, 7 by Gerodok and 5 by Kerna Dia. Gerodok opens up the proceedings with Hentikan, an anti-war song inna skanking stylee, with distorted guitar and melodious singing that would then speed up as it hurtles towards the conclusion.
Anak Malaysia is jaunty and pogo-friendly song about being sidelined in a Malaysia that forgets to treat its subjects fairly. I don’t know how the band feel about this but I think the song is apt at painting a picture on how Sabah was being treated as a state in the federation. Similar with Terengganu, it is one of the richest states in terms of local resources but actually it is the poorest in terms of its development. From what I’ve seen, Sabah has been making tonnes of money for Malaysia but little of that ever trickled back, and if it does, most of it were gobbled up by corrupt politicians.
The next five tunes are all pleasant melodic street punk rock. Very simple, ineptly played but the spirit is fierce and sincere. I just love it to bits. All of the songs too are highly political in a sense that they are all put in the context of what’s happening in Borneo itself, from the large swaths of primo forest being burnt down for kelapa sawit plantation (Hutan Bakar) to the occasional fights in the streets of the small towns there (Lawan and Sesama Kita).
If Gerodok is pretty skanky, Kerna Dia is more forthright early ACAB-style street punk, sprinkled with that Eastern Oi! flavour. Lyrically it’s again about freedom, anti-war, capitalist greed and battles of pride and ego. Less melodic than Gerodok, Kerna Dia is harder and punchy, a bit more edgy.
I like both bands, simply because of the honesty and the simplicity of their work and ideas. Musically it can be too repetitive, uninspiringly stuck in a timewarp but it is still highly enjoyable if you just let go and dive in the pogo. One other reason why I love these bands is because they put punk rock in the context of their surroundings, addressing their very own problems, not others. You hardly find that here in the so-called “Semenanjung”.
Sabah punk rock very good bah!