Wayang Kata V @ No Black Tie

Text & Image Azwan Mahzan

When we speak of DJs waxing poetic, it’s usually a visual allusion to their craft. But UK vinyl vanguard and producer Charlie Dark is a rare exception – the man really does spin tales and not just records. As the British Council’s guest, Charlie rampaged through KL as he first brought his pioneering live mix show Blacktronica to Klang Valley floor fillers with the help of Morgan Spacek and local deebee technicians The Works at Heritage Mansion, and 24 hours later, held court at Troubaganger’s fifth Wayang Kata event at No Black Tie, bringing 2007’s landmark travails into Malaysian spoken word to a spectacular close.

Regarding both music and poetry as facets of his artistic expression, Charlie brought a potently forthright voice to the mic, bridging the gaps between life in KL and his native London through compelling narrative and hilarious takes on human nature. As an ode to his main musical love, and a tipping of the hat to The Works, he even dropped a solid piece about what hip hop means to him, schooling the natives on what makes his wax go round. Of course, he wasn’t alone onstage: joining Charlie that night were the friends he had made on his sojourn in the region. Chris Mooney Singh, Bani Haykal, Pooja Nansi and Ng Yi Sheng held down the Singaporean delegation, while Privya K, Liyana Yusof, Divya Jiwa and The Works’ very own Figure of Speech repped KL to the fullest. Open mic was its usual bag of surprises, and Wayang Kata founders Jasmine Low and Jerome Kugan made everyone feel at home.

There’s nary a word of dissent about it: Charlie Dark needs to come back. His visit was brief, but he shone a bright light on the link between popular music and decidedly more fringe poetry, a link we should all be strengthening. We’ll need to show the man something to make him come back, yeah?

Wayang Kata V was held on 9 December. For more on Charlie Dark, log onto www.myspace.com/charliedark. For more on events by the British Council, log onto www.britishcouncil.org/malaysia. This report was published in the February 2008 issue of JUICE.