THE OTHERSIDE ORCHESTRA – Electromancetacy CD
THE OTHERSIDE ORCHESTRA
(The Otherside Orchestra)
The Otherside Orchestra had a very good launch of this debut CD last Sunday night. There were about 400 kids there, jamming up the far end gallery upstairs and actually caused the walls to feature bits of new cracks.
I didn’t go in to see though, opting instead to man my merch table outside with some d-beat friends of mine who were kind enough to keep me accompanied. These guys happily hawked my CDs, tapes and t-shirts (while checking out the girls, of course!). They were good salesmen though; telling some inquisitive kids that the Rajasinga CD is “an amazing indie-pop band” and that “PunkRock Paradox” compilation is all “great indie-rock”, and a few boys bought them lah.
What I heard of TOSO’s performance that night was pretty good and sweaty. Rather more energetic than usual. Most of the kids who were at the launch that night may have been there because of the current crop of indie-darlings Hujan or Meet Uncle Hussein but I’m sure TOSO gathered tonnes of new fans that night. They even managed to sell 40 copies of this CD right off the bat.
I have always had a soft spot for MUZE. I think they were one of the first local bands who were pushing the envelope a bit more off the map than usual. Their mixture of hi-energy rock with progressive (and complicated) jazzy post-everything was really an ear opener back in the day. It was the harbinger of what the new Malaysian indie-rock would sound like and as you can see nowadays, lots of new bands are going helter-skelter in that direction.
The Otherside Orchestra is an offshoot of MUZE, a more active one too as MUZE has always been a difficult beast to rein. It’s also a vehicle for vocalist Wan to be at the helms, with no one to answer to apart from himself, and it works. This is like a streamlined, highly-focused, carefully honed combo.
If MUZE stood as a highly volatile jazz-inflected post-rock, The Otherside is a tamed version with pop-orientation rather than post-hardcore, but both feature that need to complicate the delivery with twists and turns. There’s still that jazziness in it, this time easier on the ears and there’s also parts with hi-energy almost-screamo bits but again tempered with funky grooves which would invite disco-dancing instead of a full-blown mosh.
As hinted on their recent demo, there’s more synths/keyboards, samplers and that twitchy neo-new wave feel. The band also now features a female singer on a third of the songs here. I don’t think it’s a good move though. It may frees up Wan to concentrate on the guitars but there’s a lack of strength in the singing somehow.
However, the songs are mostly top-notch though. There’s no set formatting apart from keeping it skillfully soaring and shimmer. The band would mix and bake everything from smooth pop to trip-hop to acid-jazz but it always that muso-rock thang keeping the back-beat. Personally it can be a bit too smooth and “musicianship-py” for my taste, but I can’t deny its high-end craft.
All in, a hugely satisfying album for those who appreciate bands who innovate instead of recreate. One rare finely-produced, top quality Malaysian indie release. If you are in for some well-crafted atmospheric jazzy rock with groovy curves this would end your year up with much relish.
RM20 at the ricecooker shop