Sunday, April 22, 2012

City Of Lies

I'm seated at the peak. The wind serenades the silence. The skyline could be a photograph if not for the blinking lights. The city's towers look like middle fingers pointed to the heavens.

The offices lit with people dreading to leave because they know they must return -- dreading to stay because the hours burn into their eyeballs, yet lining their wallets and padding their egos.

They worship: every desk; an altar. Every flickering screen; a sacrificial flame. The clock counts down to its death, like incense burning, they both make for watery eyes.

Then we aged into mere reflections of true religion, paying tribute to temples of the night. We still sing amidst our failures, while the rhythm of lies are drummed into our subconscious.

You are loved, but barely. Expect to be treated unfairly. Grow old and weak, but pray you do not get sick. And if you do fall ill, it must be God's will. 

I think of you, your name like a whisper the wind teases to iron out the ceases of my crumpled soul. Gentle breezes bring me back to a simple love, when the heart reached out for another, and that was all that mattered.

It was different then; our voices pure, our vision unwavering, our dreams untainted, precious and raw.

- Daryl Goh

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wicked Aura Waiting to Explode

By Daryl Goh

The boys from percussion band Wicked Aura are poised to blow audiences away with their new album, Beginning the End. The percussion specialists talk about what’s ahead right after an intense performance at music-lovers haunt BluJaz Café.

The grenade: a symbol of the explosive sounds of Wicked Aura. Source: Daryl Goh

Wicked Aura’s frontman says the band had humble beginnings just like any other group of aspiring musicians.

Idham Budiman says they were just percussion enthusiasts busking along Orchard Road, wanting to share their passion and talent with the world.

But unlike the average four or five-piece band, this line-up has 12 members and many more instruments.

Ten years on, it’s grown in numbers and experience. Along with the drums, they have now added the electric guitar and bass, electronica, as well as vocals.

They now boast a body of work that includes engagements for corporate events, two albums, and even television appearances.

Their most recent collaboration was a television commercial with telecommunications company Starhub and the Lions XII for regional football draw, the Malaysia Cup 2012.

But their best feature has to be their live performances and Budiman isn’t shy about that fact: “Our music will always draw a reaction from the audience. We’re awesome live!”

His assurance borders on arrogance, but fits his rockstar image. Some might say it’s almost necessary as he leads the ensemble onstage.

As they step on stage, confidence in the band is high, amidst joking and laughter. How do they keep so calm before a physically-draining performance?

Budiman explains: “Some smoking and drinking. After that, a little bit of prayer before hitting the stage.”

“At the end of the day it's about having a lot of fun onstage and feeding off the crowd,” he says matter-of-factly.

Wicked Aura’s audiences are quite a spectacle as well. Amidst the rampant rhythms and flurry of dancing, one cannot help but notice that a large percentage of the audience is female.

This adds to the already sensual nature of the music as the audience sashays to the music. There are no complaints from the band as they continue to flaunt their percussive aptitude.

The response of the crowd matches the intensity and volume of the band as they perform songs from the first album. The air is thick and humid but with perspiration dripping down their faces, the boys of Wicked Aura push through with aplomb.

Budi and his boys perform a new song from their upcoming album, Beginning The End. Filmed LIVE at BluJaz Café.

There is a tense moment when Budiman introduces the song, Evolution Revolution, from the new album.

The audience is relatively quiet due to its unfamiliarity, but not for long. Wicked Aura does what they do best when they draw the crowd in with the anthemic roars of “Revolution!” (lyrics)

The next album, with the working title of Beginning The End is slated for release later this year. The style of music has evolved from the first album. Yazzit, the band’s bassist, reveals that it’s a much heavier album – gone are the instrumental percussion tracks.

Although they include more elements of the rock and metal genre, it’s sounding more listenable and mainstream. There are also the amalgamations of different styles that we have come to expect.

“As a songwriter and lyricist, I’m pretty happy with the stuff I wrote for this album,” brags Budiman. Undoubtedly, the fans of Wicked Aura seem to think so as well.

Undoubtedly, the fans of Wicked Aura seem to think so as well. From the ballistic beats of Bhangra, to fast and flamboyant funk, Wicked Aura continues to amaze audiences with its music.