A gathering of some of Southeast Asia’s best underground electronic artistes, BOTANIC Records’ Walled Garden VOL.1 is the first of a series of compilations featuring a curated selection of up-and-coming experimental sounds from around the region. From the cover art to the tracks themselves, the project explores the points where traditional, organic music-making meets the hard edges of technology, and the result is just over 26 minutes of a walk through a musical Garden of Eden. Here’s a breakdown of each track along with links where you can stream the album in its entirety.
Adam Kasturi – Kebangkitan di Insectarium
Walled Garden VOL.1 starts off strong with Malaysian producer Adam Kasturi’s dystopian, hard-hitting beats on ‘Kebangkitan di Insectarium’. It’s the sort of music that would come in when playing your favourite RPG video game on the highest difficulty, and Kasturi’s unforgiving, laser-sharp melodies set a solid foundation for the rest of the tracks that follow.
Yahna – Crystals
Harp-like Asiatic scales weave through the electronic rumble of ‘Crystals’, the follow-up track to Kuala Lumpur-based producer Yahna’s debut album Haze. The electronic buzz makes this song a nocturnal dance tune to get lost in until the wee hours of the morning.
Rao – Hollowness
Reverb-soaked hits give way to a haunting piano sequence, with Rao’s track accruing depth and complexity as multiple instruments start layering themselves over each other. If this track caught your attention, keep your eyes and ears peeled for the Kuala Lumpur drummer’s debut EP Ghost in the Machine.
Sylfiden – Lullaby in G Minor (feat. Vandetta)
Tradition meets technology in ‘Lullaby in G Minor’, the debut release of Manila duo Sylfiden, featuring vocals from Singaporean singer-songwriter Vandetta. The grand piano in the intro slowly transitions into a steady electronic hum, with a single startled piano chord trying to claw its way through computer-generated audio. Vandetta’s vocals lend the track a distinctly human element, and if you listen carefully, you can pick out the sounds of wildlife, insects, and birds native to Malaysian rainforests; the original sessions for this track were recorded at the Dusun Eco-Sanctuary just north of Kuala Lumpur.
Gashh – Apocalypse
Self-described as “two strangers making music to get hurt to,” GASHH is making post-punk darkwave music reimagined for the 21st century. ‘Apocalypse”s dreamy reverberated feedback is an audio cue for rewinding time back to the ’90s, but the faded vocals that cry out “Armageddon” give the track an urgency that keeps it rooted in the present moment.
PRIMADONA – Mahkota Agenda
Still shrouded in mystery, PRIMADONA is BOTANIC Records’ new electronic act set to take the regional music scene by storm. ‘Mahkota Agenda’ is equal parts hypnotic as it is disruptive, and the interest in PRIMADONA’s identity is only going to grow from here.
Orang – Tahniah (feat. Sarah Amer)
Orang presents himself in a brand new, spellbinding track in collaboration with Malaysian documentary-maker Sarah Amer. The voiceover interrupts the soaring melodies of the song to create an eerie, oracle-like message in the song, making ‘Tahniah’ an appropriate closing track to tie the compilation together.
Support BOTANIC Records and the artists by purchasing the album on Bandcamp.