Courtesy of The Star Online
By ADLY SYAIRI RAMLY The most significant local albums that shook the music scene in the Noughties.
THE best Malaysian albums that were released during the last decade, you ask? When one lives in a country where nothing musical is ever properly documented, coming out with such a list is equivalent to pulling a needle out of a haystack.
As someone who has been extensively and aggressively documenting the development of Malaysian music, it’s always a pleasure for me to please. Fret not, as unlike any other great music “documentist”, educating readers is my penchant, so the 10 albums presented here were carefully picked on how they steered, influenced and changed the Malaysian music industry, consumers and enthusiasts. Combined with the credibility factor and music critic’s snobbery, allow Yours Truly to present the list of the best Malaysian albums released during the Noughties (in no particular order).
Butterfingers – Selamat Tinggal Dunia
IF its predecessor, Malayneum, was a middle finger to their grunge beginnings, Butterfingers’ debut Malay album was a middle finger to the world.
“We have come to a point where nothing can take away the love of playing music. Like it or not, the fans have to accept it,” frontman Emmet said during the wake of the album’s release. True enough, many couldn’t digest what it had to offer but that didn’t stop the album from becoming an art-rock masterpiece.
Right from album opener Nyilu (Hidup Makan Tidur Mati Muzik) to the last track, Tentang Tentang, Selamat Tinggal Dunia destroyed every single convention that we used to know as Malaysian rock music. If there’s any flaw, it would be the band’s decision to surrender Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda as the album title, as the album is indeed a royal affair.
Search – Gothik Malam Edan
Neo Gendang Records/Life Records
IF their four albums shaped what we now call Malaysian rock and to an extent, Indo-rock, Search’s comeback album was akin to Viagra to the already impotent Malaysian rock music scene.
Gothik Malam Edan sounded like an album made by a band that was never away. Numbers like Memoria Anna, Gothik Malam Edan, Yin & Yang, matched, if not bettered the band’s earlier hard rock staples like Pawana, Musnah, Pelesit Kota and Emmanuelle.
And curiously, the love ballads were overshadowed by the album’s rock edge. Unapologetic, Gothik Malam Edan was aggressive and menacing. To an extent, it sounded like awakened gladiators ripping and shredding the pretenders.
Datuk Siti Nurhaliza – Transkripsi
Siti Nurhaliza Productions /SRC
OKAY she was blessed with a voice unlike others and has won the most awards any Malaysian singer could imagine, but none of the above really meant much, until her 11th studio album, Transkripsi. Released under her own imprint, the album had Siti being in charge of her art, which was where she truly flexed her muscles in every single department; resulting in an album that not only captured an artiste at her creative peak, but a pop masterpiece that scored big with fans and critics.
Too Phat – Plan B
Positive Tone/EMI Music
GRANTED, Poetic Ammo was the one who laid the foundation of mainstream Malaysian hip hop, but no one could take away the fact that Too Phat’s Plan B was the album that took the genre to another level. The moment the brilliantly composed and sampled Anak Ayam was unleashed on the airwaves, the whole region was freaking to Too Phat’s beat. It may not be the best local hip hop album in its truest sense but it certainly has the ingredients to turn thousands of adolescents to embrace hip hop culture, (okay, its fashion, mostly).
Malique – OK
Qarma Musiq/Warner Music
NO Malaysian artiste has achieved what Malique did with his solo debut. Equipped with only his music, OK sealed Too Phat’s place as a thing of the past and secured Malique’s relevance in the Malaysian hip hop scene ... even the region, to an extent. Presented as a double-disc, the lyrical themes were street-smart, the urban metaphors edgy and the attitude well delivered. Done in Malay rapping style, OK is an album that a lot of other local MCs are trying very hard to emulate. Despite his almost hermit-like existence, Malique’s presence is as strong as it has ever been. A classic case of when art does its own talking.
Elyana – Bicara Mata Ini
After two albums and two hit ballads, a then 18-year-old Elyana was given the green light by her label to decide on the direction of her next album, Bicara Mata Ini. The first thing she did was drop the cheese she was known for and form a songwriting team that was made up of forward-thinking composers like Aidit Alfian (who penned Tak Tercapai Akalmu), Alim The Times (Diriku Tapak Sulaiman) and AG Coco (Pakai Kanta Cinta).
The outcome was an alternative-flavoured pop rock album that not only erased what many used to know Elyana for, but also became a musical benchmark that is yet to be emulated.
Hujan – ABCDEFGHUJANOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Noh Phrofile & FMC
IF Butterfingers’ Selamat Tinggal Dunia was an art-rock masterpiece, Hujan’s debut was pure pop perfection. From the dark Bila Aku Sudah Tiada to the heart-wrenching Pijak Hatiku to the angry Empayarmu, there were no misses on the 14-tracks presented here. Granted, most of the songs here have been road-tested but no one could take away frontman Noh Salleh’s intelligence in marrying the art of pop songwriting with piercing lyricism. Like the rest of the rock albums that made to this list, ABCDEFGHUJANOPQRSTUVWXYZ has extended the shelf life of Malaysian music.
Faizal Tahir – Aku.Muzik.Kamu
Faizal Tahir’s Queen and Van Halen-inspired debut filled the void of great rock albums by a male singer here. Teaming up with one of the brightest composers around, Audi Mok, the duo crafted an album that was not only heavy with commercial values, but also with a rock edge and slick production. Come to think of it, Aku.Muzik.Kamu made local pop rock dangerous again. Not bad for a former nasyid group member who became runner up in 8TV’s One In A Million. And with his treat of the infamous shirt-tearing stunt for the Malaysian audience to digest, Faizal Tahir has made himself one of a kind, and goodness knows the Malaysian music industry needs more males singers that are cut from the same cloth.
OAG – Opera Radhi-O Friendly
Positive Tone/EMI Music
IT was the early millennium and for urban bands, singing in Malay was a blasphemous act of selling out. Then, OAG, the same band who put local English music into mainstream consciousness with its eponymous debut (1994), decided to stop kidding themselves and went Malay. No, they didn’t die nor go to hell; the band lasted for two more albums before going into an indefinite hiatus. That blasphemous album? Opera Radhi-O Friendly gave us what many wrongly interpret as indie music today.
Spider – Aladin
WHILE Malaysian rock music was busy playing catch-up with its Indonesian counterparts, Tam (vocals), Tony (bassist) and Nafie (guitars) of Spider decided to jump off the bandwagon and do their own thing.
And their own thing was to keep their music simple and their lyrics as honest as possible.
With quirky song titles like Aladin and Lauk Ku Cukup Masin and the late Loloq’s brilliance in stringing day-to-day words into memorable lyrics and catchy skanky riffs, Aladin turned out to be the perfect ingredient to breathe new life into Malaysian rock music.