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SOLA tells the story of Malaysian independent music... to the extent

SOLA tells the story of Malaysian independent music... to the extent By ADLY SYAIRY RAMLY; The Malay Mail Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Documenting something that is as misunderstood as the local independent music scene is not an easy task.
And for that, I take my hat off to the hardworking people at Malaya Rekords for their efforts on Support Our Local Act!: The Story of Malaysia’s Independent Music Scene (SOLA).
The two-disc, 20 track set include liner notes that detail the development of the local independent music scene as written by Aidil Rosli, former frontmen of one of scene’s earliest bands, Ipoh based Pet Hate Minor, and now Couple.
The music here can be divided into four phases of local independent music scene – the trailblazer (Flop Poppy, Sil-Khanaz, The Pilgrims, Chronic Mass); the second generation (OAG, ACAB, Koffin Kanser); the third generation (Root N’ Boots, Pop Shuvit, Gerhana Ska Cinta); and the current crop (They Will Kill Us All, Hujan, Komplot and Auburn).
On the aspect alone, SOLA is indeed the most extensive, if not detailed, piece of documentation.
However, as someone who has been following and documenting the local independent music scene over the past 18 years, I have a few issues with (SOLA) that I feel need to be raised. My sincerest apologies for it.
Let’s start with selection of the bands.
With a tagline that says ‘The Story of Malaysia’s Independent Music Scene, slightly off its target.
There were a lot of important trailblazers like Carburator Dung, Infectious Maggots, Subculture, Rator, and DPSA that were left out here.
As for bands from the second generation – the time when the scene was its most exciting creatively – the exclusion of band like The Bollocks, Enslaved Chaos, Muck, nicestupidplayground, “Un” Normal Human Genetic, Spiral Kinetic Circus, Extroverts, The Beads and Future Primitive certainly left a huge gap.
What about band from the third generation – the time when the scene went from underground to urban?
As much as I hate to admit it, and for better or worse, bands like LO and John’s Mistress did play a part in building a bridge between the independent music scene and its evil cousin, the mainstream. Then, there are olso bands like Damn Dirty Apes, Love Me Butch, Sevencollar T-Shirt and LYME.
I don’t have grouses about the selection of the current crop of bands. It could have been a complete presentation if bands like meetUnclehussain and Bittersweet were included though.
Despite having their music featured here, the choice of songs to represent bands like The Pilgrims, Sil-Khannaz, Flop Poppy and Koffin Kanser don’t really do them much justice, as they are far from being their most significant tracks.
The Pilgrims could have seen properly presented with any of the songs from their Perfume Garden and Away From The Numbers days. As for the Sil-Khannaz, there’s their internationally-renowned album Conception of Madness album. And Flop Poppy (that was featured on A Circle of Friends compilation) could have been a better choice. Yes, it was re-recorded by OAG as Knocked Silly, but it was recorded and released by Flop Poppy with a very young Radhi on Vocals.
As for Koffin Kanser, I’d go for Gott or Between The Lines any day.
Having said all above, one has to take into consideration some factors that probably prevented Malaya Rekords from producing a more comprehensive track listing.
First – the workings of the music industry. There are issues like ‘who own rights to which song’. This is important, as according to Malaya Rekords’ Mohd Azmi Karim, labels want to make sure that each band will receive their due rights.
The other problem is, since SOLA is distributed by a major label, some of the bands that were approached would have probably refused to give the rights to their songs. Credibility is king when it comes to local independent bands, just in case you didn’t know.
The last problem would probably be the fact that some of the music is probably no longer existence – most of the recordings were C60 and C90 cassette then.
With the above in mind, SOLA’s weakness is forgivable.
And if there’s a second instalment, we’d suggest Malaya Rekord drop ‘The Story of Malaysia’s Independent Music Scene’ tagline in favour of Chapters of Malaysia’s Independent Scene’
Support Our Local Acts!: The Story of Malaysia’s Independent Music Scene (SOLA) is out now at record stores

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