More Than Just Another Music Festival

By James Lochhead Two years ago, I wrote a gushing review of the 2nd Penang Island Jazz Festival (PIJF). Sitting under the stars at Batu Ferringhi while listening to some great music for two wonderful evenings was such a treat. At the same time, the seriousness of the festival was very apparent in the way […]

More Than a Festival

By Antares It gets harder and harder to review the Rainforest World Music Festival without sounding like someone who’s had a lobotomy and can’t stop grinning like an imbecile – especially when this was the 10th anniversary reunion well-worn partiers like me have been anticipating since the end of last year’s bash. So I’ll start […]

Laptop Unplugged

By Matt Armitage When we heard that Lewis Pragasam was lining up a couple of Asiabeat shows (Fri 27 – Sat 28, Jan 2006) as part of the excellent Alexis jazz series at Great Eastern Mall we weren’t exactly overly excited. Not because there’s anything wrong with Asiabeat – they’ve been an essential part of […]

The Gospel of Rock

By Azmyl Yunor It was interesting to see if the Street Roar Independent Music Festival 2006 could be translated effectively from its Petaling Street origins to the idyllic lake-side setting of KLPac. The context of the event, being held a week to day of the dumbfounding raid at Paul’s Place on New Year’s Eve, was […]

“Kami Tak Minum Darah Kambing!”

By Rafil Elyas About two weeks before the cops hunted down satanic elements at Paul’s Place, I accepted this assignment from Kakiseni to review Rock The World 6 (17 Dec 2005, Stadium Merdeka) and unwittingly exposed myself to some potentially dangerous music. At that time, I had neglected to check if any of the bands […]

Yang Berat Dan Yang Hitam

By Hishamuddin Rais Tahun 2005 berakhir dengan nota yang kurang menyenangkan. Apa yang saya maksudkan ini bukan kerana kegagalan bursa saham melonjak tetapi penangkapan hampir 500 anak-anak muda yang sedang merayakan pesta tahun baru di sebuah kelab muzik – Paul’s Place – di Jalan Klang Lama. Mereka dikatakan sebagai penganut/peminat muzik genre Black Metal. Saya […]

Black Mental Nation

By Pang Khee Teik Rafil Elyas, 39, engineer, builder of mathematical models and rock musician, wasn’t playing at the ill-fated New Year’s Eve concert at Paul’s Place that was raided. But he was outraged all the same. So, with some help from the Centre for Independent Journalism, he organised a press conference at Paul’s Place […]

The MPO Winter Collection

By Zalina Lee I spent the first two years of my marriage as a professional mall rat. And I’m here to tell you, young grasshoppers, that if you need a bathroom on a Sunday, and just so happen to be in KLCC at the time, forget about getting close to an empty toilet stall. Just. […]

Majukanlah Rock Untuk Negara

By Nur Hanim Khairuddin Meski menyorot sekelumit dari sejarah sosio-hiburan silam yang berkecamuk dan tercerai-cerai, Rock membawa kita kembali menjengah keberadaan ‘pop culture’ dan ‘pesta muda-mudi’ di dekad 80an. Penuh nostalgia, padat dengan lagak dan imej realistik disulami beberapa babak kelakar, Mamat Khalid memaparkan secebis sahsiah dan siasah popular (asalnya sub-kultural jua) pemuda Melayu generasi […]

Our Funny Valentines

By Antares I don’t even like jazz, as a genre, but jazz virtuosos do generate a peculiar fascination. You have to be so goddam good to pass muster as a “jazz great’ the accomplishment in itself is worth applauding and recording. As jazz pianists go, few get any better than Singapore’s mythical Monteiro (Jeremy) and […]

Beaches Brew

By James Lochhead Lying on the grass, staring up at the crescent moon, the sea breeze gently rustling, and then to hear the cool soprano saxophone sound of Japanese jazz band Jaja thrilling the air – the melodic piano at the back, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the hendrix-like guitar, lifting the sound and […]

Noise For The Ringtone Generation

By Azmyl Yunor Penang-born Goh Lee Kwang deserves his due credit in the “Malaysia Boleh” rhetoric; he has toured Europe in 2004 (“Europe Pleasures Tour”) way before the Siti-hype at Carnegie Hall. Along with fellow sound/ visual/ installation recluses Klang-born-Melbourne-based Yeoh Yin Pin, Tham Kar Mun and Yandsen Yong, they have received accolades internationally for […]


By Shanon Shah Music and sports. You gotta love the possible permutations of controversy that emerge when the two meet. Last year, there was unprecedented media coverage of Janet Jackson’s lack of coverage at the Superbowl. This year, some of our MPs wanted to send popular singer Hattan to bed without any broth for allegedly […]

Hari-hari Mawi

By Zulkifli Mohamad Nama Mawi kian menjadi satu nama yang tidak asing lagi di dalam arena seni suara tanahair. Wajahnya yang tenang bermata kuyu “steamy eyes” itu sering mengisi ruang akhbar. Suka tidak suka, itulah hakikatnya. Asmawi Ani yang dikenal sebagai Mawi lahir dari sebuah keluarga berketurunan Jawa di Felda Taib Andak di Johar, antara […]

Croatian Idol

By Lisa Ho Franz Liszt was classical piano’s first idol. He took the European musical world by storm in the 19th century. With formidable technique at the piano (and in bed) and personal charisma, he left women swooning and men trembling after his concerts. He had fantastic hair too. Ivo Pogorelich, who gave a recital […]

Don’t Cry For Me, Malaysia

By Maya Tan Abdullah What makes a Malaysian musical Malaysian? It’s written by a Malaysian even though it could be about a bunch of Italians It’s set in Malaysia with Malaysian characters and traditional Malaysian music It’s a musical from somewhere else but wholly performed by Malaysians It’s written by a foreigner but is about […]

Melodies That Bring Back Memories

By Lisa Ho The new season of concerts by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) opened with a gala performance – for subscribers only – that combined pomp and ceremony with a lot of sparkle and glitter. Subscribers were requested to be dressed in grand fashion and were feted like kings and queens. They had food […]

Six Players in Search of a Piano

By Lisa Ho Statistics prove that there are more pianos in Malaysian households than there are OSIM massage-chairs. More people take piano lessons than violin lessons, although this balance might change soon. However, statistics still cannot disprove the fact that there has been a decline in the number of amateur pianists and people with enough […]

Dama Does Disney

By Chris Fui Dive bars, Alley Girls, brothels, and the soldiers that frequent them. China has had its dragon’s share of debauchery and lecherism, and there is no better city that exemplified such gritty exuberance then Shanghai in the 30’s. A growling city that made even Sodom and Gomorrah look like a heavy-petting zoo. But […]

Musique Anda

By Chan Siew Lian There is a certain coolness in being a female guitarist. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good, or even if you’re wearing the instrument the wrong way. People will gladly entertain you if you come in strings and heels. This excuse for sub-par playing, however, was shattered when I heard that […]

Vagabonds in Their Own Land

By Sonia Randhawa The first day of the Rainforest World Music Festival began with three choices for me. Attending the press conference for the media invited to cover the festival, attending the opening ceremonies of a Bidayuh Gawai (the traditional harvest festival – nothing to do with RWMF) or attending a landmark court case on […]

Violent Symphonies

By Lisa Ho Listening to Gustav Mahler’s 6th symphony (a.k.a. “Tragic”) performed by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of maestro Kees Bakels was, for me, a personal confrontation with an old fear that I have battled with on and off for many years. I am more a Wagner enthusiast, and certainly no Mahler […]

The Classical Challenge

By Lisa Ho Decked with flowers and fruits in their hair to personify temperate seasons, the nymphs standing outside The Actors Studio Bangsar were unfortunately not enough to persuade many more people to give the Young KL Singers’ latest concert a try. At least not the evening I was there. In the past, the songs […]

The Thinking Man

By Adlin Rosli Azmyl Yunor – Tenets (Rapid Ear) Is there some strange community run by Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan over in Bangi that we didn’t know about? Judging from Bangi-based singer-songwriter Azmyl Yunor’s Tenets EP, the answer is possibly yes. The music in this CD-r release (with colour-copied-inlay cover) sounds uncannily […]

Farewell My Contemporary

By Kakiseni Saidah Rastam is not one of Malaysia’s best kept secrets. Her cutting-edge music has a reputation beyond our borders. She has been invited for the second time by Goh Boon Teck, director of Singapore’s Toy Factory Theatre Company, to compose with his company. This time, it is for a contemporary theatre piece based […]

How to Make a Malaysian Quilt

By Lisa Ho A famous English conductor once said to a lady cellist: “Madam, you have, between your legs, an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands, and all you can do is scratch it!” I admit that after watching the concert Rapsodi Malaysia by the Petronas Performing Arts Group on Friday April 29 at […]

Rocket Men Pt. 2

By Shanon Shah + Jerome Kugan This article is a continuation of a series of emails exchanged between singer-songwriters Shanon Shah and Jerome Kugan. Click here for Part 1. Shanon: Juara Songwriters I filled my head with Beatles songs at one point. But hardly anyone’s ever said that I sound like the Beatles. I suppose […]

Experiment in Bronze

By Antares On opening night of Monkey Business, director Krishen Jit wasn’t sitting like a stone deity in the foyer with an inscrutable look on his face, as is his wont. He was recuperating from another cardiac arrest in the National Heart Institute. However, those involved with Five Arts Centre seemed quite cheerful as they […]

Rocket Men Pt. 1

By Shanon Shah + Jerome Kugan We invited Shanon Shah, winner of the Kakiseni Most Promising Young Artist Award 2003, and Jerome Kugan, nominee for Best Original Music for Theatre last year, to correspond with each other via emails, discussing their influences, techniques and worldviews. Both of them have been on popular demand at Pete […]

Soul Searching in Sunway

By Chan Siew Lian Fingers, minus the Soul Avanti Friday Nite Jazz featuring Soul Fingerz, 11 Feb 2005, at Avanti Italian-American Ristorante, Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel On the third day of Chinese New Year, I traded rambling discourses about my marital potential in favour of a jazzy night-out with friends. It was a terrible, terrible […]


By Remin Noir Dewa – Laskar Cinta Aquarius Musikindo Album studio terbaru Dewa, kumpulan rock termashyur dari Indonesia, benar-benar adalah album yang lari dari bunyi Dewa yang biasa. Banyak pembaharuan yang dibenahi Ahmad Dhani sang produser dan pemain kibod dalam memperkenalkan idealisme muziknya. Laskar Cinta ini lebih kearah kekerasan rock yang diadun bersama bunyi moden […]


By Phang Kuan Hoang A couple of cute infant Chinese Lions were brought inside the concert hall at the end of an MPO Family Fun Day series concert titled A Chinese New Year Celebration. They emerged from the exits near the stage and gradually trotted their way to the main galleria, playfully interacting with the […]

Royal Charmer

By Chacko Vadaketh “My daughter will only wear local Malaysian clothes, calls me ‘Bapa’ and wants to move here!” With that the tall, handsome Harry Connick, Jr. had everyone at the press conference in the palm of his hand. He certainly made an impression, arriving on time, looking comfortable and relaxed in a well worn […]

The Lady Esplanade

By Pete Teo I played at the Esplanade (Jan 14 – 16, 2005). For those who are clueless, the Esplanade is Singapore’s shiny new national performing arts centre. And yes, I am aware that Malaysians tend to cart forth stories of chewing gum and blowjob every time Singapore is mentioned in conversation – but please […]

Adrenalin Meluap

By Remin Noir Suasana pada petang 8 januari yang lalu di depan kelab Hard Rock Cafe terasa berbeza dari petang hari-hari yang lain. Udara petang terasa panas walau kadang keadaan bertukar redup buat satu waktu. Suasana redup yang sekadar sebentar memang memberi perlindungan yang baik buat ramai peminat yang beratur panjang di depan Hard Rock […]

Jingle All The Way

By Chan Siew Lian David Gomes & Junji Delfino – It’s Christmas Time Again Every December, a condition known as jingleitis afflicts me. It starts with a visit to the mall, and is severely exacerbated by tonally malfunctioning carollers. Symptoms include cold sweat, nausea, shortness of breath, migraine and tinnitus. It was with trepidation then […]

Strangled Carmen

By Pia Zain & Simon Hegarty Bizet’s music is transcendent. Once you have seen and heard Carmen, you can never forget it. It gets under your skin, haunting with the resonance of emotion. Music that hurts the soul with its purity and passion. We went to see Bizet’s Carmen, staged by the Penang Arts Council […]

Sing It, Mean It!

By Zedeck Siew Last weekend my chamber choir performed an enactment of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a traditional Christian service format. We were asked, recently, if we wanted to participate in the upcoming December 25th Christmas Open House at the field opposite Amcorp Mall. A Malaysia Open House happens for six major […]

Beyond Beyond

By Phang Kuan Hoong It was early 2003; the world news was taking an uneasy shift as President Dubya and his minions ejaculated on a daily basis the need to wage war on Iraq. Voices of distress and disgust could be heard from every corner of the world. Even in Malaysia, a “demand-for-peace” rally was […]

The Sound of New Music

By Dr Valerie Ross Congratulations Chong Kee Yong – here’s to even greater compositional heights and more Starry Nights! One of the most compelling experiences of attending an event such as the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, International Composers Award (Nov 27, 2004, at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas), must be the privilege of hearing first-hand the actual voices […]

Australia Boleh

By Zedeck Siew The cello’s left rib edge can scar one’s inner left thigh, as I found out while playing with an amateur youth orchestra. Its extendable steel spike is sometimes detachable and useful for the cellist on foot who is afraid of stray dogs. Women were once discouraged from playing the cello due to […]

The Age of Disposable Cool

By Pete Teo Some midget in dark-rimmed glasses trotted up to me one day. “Hey Pete,” she growled. “You’re so uncool.” Huh? Whatever did she mean? I’ve read ‘Karl Marx For Dummies’. Twice. If that’s not cool, what is? “Dump that shitty music you do and get with us avant-gardes. We’re radical and cool.” “What? […]

Enema of the Suburbs

By Vanessa Surian I am tempted to meander on in a pretentious manner about things we already know about the local music scene: Lack of support, the indifference, blah blah blah. But it’s harder not to dismiss the bands as victims of their circumstance and just talk about the evening as is. It was a […]

Disco at the End of the World

By Pang Khee Teik Primal Jam Everybody was rushing to the Iban longhouse. It’s not the real thing, but a mock-up version here at the Sarawak Cultural Village. The audience who were already seated for the previous session, led by the Doghouse Skiffle group, remained fixed to the bamboo floor. Fanning ourselves in vain attempts […]

Emotional Therapy Airwaves

By Chan Siew Lian If only for one night, life’s problems could disappear: creaky knees, credit card bills, demented, PMS-ing partners. If only for one moment, music could be the elixir for all the soul’s insatiable yearnings. For the lucky few who caught Double Take at Alexis Ampang recently, it seems the impossible wasn’t too […]

You Can Close Your Eyes

By Pete Teo & Rafil Elyas Jairus Anthony. 17 November 1963 – 12 July 2004 Jairus Anthony, beloved pub singer, passed away aged 40, on the morning of July 12, 2004. Jairus wasn’t just any pub singer, he was a charming fella well loved by many respected musicians and folks in the arts community. Kakiseni […]

Fine Orchestra, Pathetic Attendance

By Aaron Raj I was pleasantly surprised with the choice of repertoire for the MPO’s concert on Friday June 25. It is comforting to know that the MPO views the Malaysian public as capable of stomaching more serious and heavy selections of the orchestral repertoire. Although I doubt if many could follow the musical discourse […]

One Beat

By Sunetra Fernando Petronas Performing Arts Group’s latest offering, Satu Rentak, was performed on April 28 and 29, 2004, at the Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS, directed by Mohd. Yazid Zakaria, winner of the best composition award at the Cameronian Arts Award 2002. Satu Rentak represents a first for PPAG in its concert-hall style staging of musical […]

We’re In Heaven

By Sonia Randhawa Pete Teo’s Songwriters Round has entered a new phase, coming back from the despair of no-No Black Tie to the latest KL venue, Alexis on Jalan Ampang. The last weekend saw two rounds, Friday and Saturday. Friday we had Mia Palencia (replacing Rafique Rashid), Aki, Shelley Leong, and Zahid from Disagree; Saturday […]

Indy Rock Darlings

By Sonia Randhawa My heart sank when I walked into Paul’s Place and I heard the not-too-delicate strains of the Beatles’ Twist and Shout’. My last experience with a Beatles cover at Paul’s Place hadn’t ended well. The band was Triple 6 Poser, and the cover was good, but it wasn’t until they started on […]

Malaysia Tacky Asia

By Antares With another general election around the corner, it was inevitable that the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism would seize the opportunity to present a glorious feel-good concert showcasing a veritable ethnomusicological rainbow – emblematic of a harmonious and prosperous national destiny. As to be expected, when a public relations agenda takes precedence […]

The Unifying Forces of Adeline Wong

By Saidah Rastam It’s tough being a composer of orchestral works. You only acquire skill by hearing how your music sounds when played by an orchestra, but you only get your music played by an orchestra when you’ve acquired skill. This, together with intense competition, far too few commissions and a generally impecunious existence, makes […]

The Professional Prizewinner

By Saidah Rastam This is a fairy tale. This is, for me, the ultimate success story. Chong Kee-Yong, 33, grew up in a palm oil plantation in Kluang, Johor. His mother and father were and are farmers. His father wanted him to study economics.  Chong ‘escaped’ from home, and to the Malaysian Institute of Art […]

Fanfare for the Common Man

By Saidah Rastam ‘Serious’ Malaysian orchestral music composition has been limited. Until now. Maybe there has been an increase in educated composers, trained in orchestral arranging. Maybe it’s the results of ventures by institutions such as Akademi Seni Kebangsaan and the International College of Music and by noble musicians who have been passing down their […]

I’ve Got Polyrhythm

By Cassandra Chong Cassandra Chong is a very enthusiastic student at the International College of Music (ICOM). Last week she attended a three-day workshop by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, facilitated by the charming composer Fraser Trainer, who is the Creative Director of the London Sinfonietta, and has done composition workshops for schools in Norway, Finland, […]

Wildfire and Teargas

By Shanon Shah There was a moment during Rhythm in Bronze: Wujud Antara that struck lightning through history. It was when the shigu drums in the instrumental piece written by Tan Sooi Beng broke into an explosion of thunderstorms and cracks. The piece entitled ‘Perubahan’, the audience was told, was written in 1999, in the […]

Bye Bye No Black Tie, Hello Paul

By Sonia Randhawa Paul’s Place is a dive. As you go in, a multi-coloured sign announces the place. It sits above a doorway half-framed by a flashing-red­light-snake-thing that keeps tempo in a different continuum from our own. You climb a dingy red-lit staircase through a heavy metal door. It looks like the entrance to a […]

Making Love With The Audience

By Shanon Shah The first time I played at No Black Tie, it was during open mike at Songwriters Round 5. If I remember correctly Jerome Kugan, songwriter-troubadour extraordinaire, and Lorna Tee, empowered arts groupie extraordinaire, organised this particular round. Jerome, who was also performing that night, kept shuffling from the stage area to the […]

The Contest Winner’s Date

By B.C. Ng It was a Monday afternoon that I received a call from Kakiseni, notifying me that I was tentatively the winner of the New Year’s Eve dinner for two at Alexis Ampang. They would give it to someone else if I were unable to make it. I rushed a call to the boyfriend […]

Where’s the Jazz??

By Jerome Kugan The late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Indeed, music (or any art form for that matter) continues to elude even its wittiest commentators. Even those who write music can only speak credibly of the experience of composing (or playing) music, while the music […]

From Opera To Bollywood

By Elaine Tan After the setback of losing many precious scores and instruments in the flooding of the Dataran Merdeka, Dama Orchestra has dusted off the debris and settled into their new home in Bangsar. We sit on wobbly chairs in the corner of the small room as Dama’s resident soprano Tan Sao Suan, always […]

Birds of a Feather

By Antares Fancy Poultry is what they call themselves – four very yummy chicks and a couple of not-too-macho guys with delicious voices and a burning desire to entertain. Their debut at the Actors Studio was a one-night stand with a cutesy rhyming name: Strings and Tones from Multiple Zones. The evening’s fare: a couple […]

Fundamentally Floored

By Matt Daniels Every once in a while an artist comes in from the fringes to shake things up and challenge the preconceptions we have all become comfortable with. Jason Lo did it admirably with Evening News, introducing big budget production values and songwriting to a rather apathetic music scene. However, since then the local […]

Look Out, Here Comes Another Rave!

By Antares How much does a minister get paid? RM9,000 a month? RM15,000? Okay, let’s say RM12,000. How much in kickbacks? Hmmm. Well, I’d be willing to take on a ministerial post for a year or so, just so I can make sure the Gamelan Club gets it own gamelan, instead of having to rent […]