Text Naqib Nadhir Shamsuri
Image Adrian Wong
Take a quick skim through Ali Aiman’s work and you will immediately acknowledge the gravity inherent in his artistic ethos. Through his music, he gives us a solemn exposition of his curious mind – a mind occupied with honest expression. An artist, more than anything, Ali tells stories through discordant sounds and sincere lyrics, which can all be heard on his debut EP entitled Overture.
Born in Miri and raised in the Netherlands and Kuala Lumpur, Ali gleans inspiration from everything around him and, at 27 years old, it is apparent that he takes his craft seriously. You can easily chart the evolution of his musicianship from his early days playing in bands to his current personal exploration, delving deeper into his psyche to unmask core emotions that seem to universally resonate with his current listeners. This evolution is a testament to his passion, never remaining stagnant and always in search of new frontiers to explore.
Starting as merely a hobby, albeit classically trained on the piano and trumpet, music became a major part of Ali’s life when he turned 18, finally realising it to be something he wanted to do for a living – and so he ventured forth and never looked back. Armed with nothing but raw talent and motivation, the budding musician moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music, majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production of which he graduated with First Class Honours.
The Berklee alumnus concedes that his time in Boston had been transformative. The experience not only gave him the room to mature as a musician, but also directly influenced his sound altogether, teaching him to be more musically adaptable to different styles of writing and production. This new method of approach has given him the impetus to take sounds and concepts that he personally likes and apply them into a collage of sounds that is unique to himself, made evident in his latest material.
Released last month, Overture EP was well-received by his peers. Best enjoyed “with a pair of headphones in a dark room,” the 6 track album opens with ‘Breathe’, a melancholic composition that serves as a thematic anchor to the overall work. Originally intended to be a full-length album of 11 songs, five songs were discarded from the repertoire, leaving us with a beautifully curated EP aptly named to serve as a prologue to the rest of Ali’s upcoming oeuvre.
With no collaborations aside from mastering done by Nick Lee from The Ark, every piece on the EP was written, recorded, produced, and mixed by the multitalented artiste himself. The Miri-born musician’s eclectic methodology of weaving personal favourites that go as far back as Impressionist music into his compositions can be fully appreciated in his rendition of ‘Pavane For A Dead Princess’, a reimagining of Maurice Ravel’s 1899 classic.
It was only recently that Ali decided to write and produce his own music. Prior to starting on the EP, he juggled multiple jobs behind-the-scenes working as a music director for a children’s theatre in Boston and producing music for others. While struggling to find the perfect artiste to collaborate with, he figured it might as well be him that provided the vocals on his songs as no one else could better understand his vision.
With that, and countless hours locked up in his room experimenting, Ali Aiman gives us the first glimpse of what we can expect to be a long line of distinguished work rooted in passion and honesty.
Overture EP is available on both Spotify and Deezer. Alternatively, you can stream it below.
Purchase the album on iTunes.