VA – This Is Not A Break Up Compilation CD
This Is Not A Break Up Compilation CD
(a split-release by 17 local DIY labels/distros!)
Yup! 17 different DIY labels/distros got together to put this comp out. A pretty amazing and laudable effort supporting the current tour by Japanese emo-rockers Curve (not the English indie-duo featuring Depeche Mode’s Alan Moulder, mind you) and also Dip Leg, another emo-derived Japanese band but of a more pronounced mid-90s style.
This CD, pro-printed and pro-pressed, features 13 tracks; two each from the Japs, and one each from two Singaporean bands and seven Malaysian combos. Recorded separately, the sound can vary from good to best but the levelling is good, so you don’t need to man the volume knob much.
On the first listen, only a few bands caught my interest, especially Singapore’ Ila Mitra with their Distress Signal, an ominous, bleak and percussive post-punk wail reminding me of the old DC sound made famous by Dischord. Personally, this is the true sound of “emo”, I can’t stand what they call as “emo” nowadays. I’m of the Rites of Spring school of thought, where desperation mingles with propulsive anger without losing the abrasive, reckless nature of punk rock, but yet eager to be a lot more progressive than the ol’ three-bar-chords.
The other band is MUZE. Always a hard band to pin down, they play muso-style, jazzed-up mixture of progressive rock, precise math-core and unforgettable poppy passages. Always brilliant, always on the dot and blessed with an excellent singer in Wan, MUZE can go from Al Di Meola-style snaky jazz guru guitar lines to screaming post-hardcore to damn sweet pop singalongs, all in one soaring song! Bloody excellent!
Orait, those two bands are the ones I’m quite familiar with, the rest are complete strangers to my CD player. Among them, I find the ones that are really worth a listen are Pintu Rintangan Api and Teenage Glory For The Wasted. Two very different bands but both show some promise.
Pintu Rintangan Api is of the more chaotic edge. They share the same spirit and influences as the very good Devilica (which is curiously not included here). If Devilica shows an affinity with the mid-90s San Diego thang (The Locust and Angelhair etc.), PRA is more “trad” ‚Äì not much experimental and weird post-HC moves as expected. The intro to their song R.9 is pretty amazingly off-kilter but by the mid-part it goes typically speedy hardcore with screaming on top. I was quite disappointed really.
Teenage Glory For The Wasted offers a moody, 6-minutes instrumental meditation called Nasir Bilal Khan (isn’t that the name of that drama/theatre actor?). Compared to the currently many local post-rock-influenced bands, TGFTW sounds rather muscular here, not too wimpy as Furniture for instance. That said, the band didn’t offer anything new. It’s the same muted passages gradually going louder and denser as it goes and then flits between quiet and loud. The song mines the same integral melody line (the intro) and failed to introduce another or more hooks to keep it fresh and interesting.
The rest of the bands here don’t do it for me. Dip Leg is mildly interesting, as it falls back to mid-90s style emo, but Curve is just another wimpy indie-rock band, with no punk/HC nuances at all. A friend of mine described them as a “J-Rock” band and I tend to agree.
Some local bands here feature the ol power-metal-style riffing as the basis for their emo-screaming thang, I can’t stand it much. It’s like a local mat rock kangkang band stumbling upon the joys of screamo! Utterly unconvincing thus I found myself constantly pushing the FWD button.
All in, a good documentation which I will treasure. If you’re into checking out on the progressive or emo-ish end of local underground, do grab a copy. As for me, I’m waiting for that album currently being recorded by MUZE and yes, Ila Mitra’s future recordings would really get me going.
Distress Signal by Ila Mitra
available from all the 17 labels/distros but there are too many to list here. The best is to contact papakerma here or go to papakerma.com