Images All is Amazing
After Tekan-Tekan’s second edition, Kuala Lumpur hasn’t had an accessible underground electronic gig since – ones that exude the same dingy, below the radar vibe of a rock show circa Tone’s fleeting existence at least. It’s not that we don’t have the right acts, really. Instead it is especially in this age that musicians of that sort are given the right equipment (whether affordable hardware or pirated DAWs) and opportunity (DIY digital distribution in Soundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc.) to express themselves – the time has never been more apt for the electronic artiste. Even ignoring the Guetta-borne pestilence, the mainstream readily accepts quality acts like Disclosure and the independent scene is even rifer with sonically varied talents; Baths, Grimes, Purity Ring, Apparat, Actress, and more.
Kuala Lumpur isn’t far behind at all, JUICE has covered the scene enough to confidently say that we echo that zeitgeist just fine. What was needed is the right venue to cultivate the scene, and as luck would have it, we found one in Under9. An underground venue that is literally below the ground – the basement floor of Mulberry off Jalan Gereja – Under9’s interior reveals the very bare minimum; exposed ceilings and uncovered bricks, minimal lighting, makeshift wooden tables, stacked pallets, and dusty sofas and armchairs make up the space. In short, the perfect breeding ground for the underground. Finally our NB4T series had a place where it can exist without worrying what expatriates and tourists would think of the music.
It was only natural then that the launch of +2dB’s + EP and VMPRMYTH’s HEROINe LP officiated the event’s return. We believed in them since day one, and the release of their respective records heralded something of a new beginning to the scene. They were the only two acts from it – if there were such a scene to begin with – that gained outside publicity recently (Topman Magazine and numerous radio appearances to name a few). Something in the air was getting more palpable, we had to be a part of it in a more meaningful way.
Roping in the aid of underrated glitch maestro Jena, electronic duo Like Silver with vocalist Sulyn, and DJ-producer Reddi Rocket, plus +2dB’s featured acts Pastel Lite and Darren Ashley, the night saw the venue transformed into a crimson dimmed dungeon fit for vampires and dark heroines. Visual artist and the hardest working performer of the night, Nero One, augmented the atmosphere further by providing original 3D visuals mapped over NB4T’s trademark hexagon – tough to capture on camera but incredible to witness live as the performances happened before our eyes.
Under9’s resident DJ, Dilee D, warmed up the night with a predominantly house and minimal mix before Jena took up the decks for an original set. It was clear that most weren’t familiar with his music, but murmurs of awe and surprise were aplenty as the 20-something minute long set neared its end. New converts were made, exactly the sort of reaction we were hoping NB4T would inspire. Like Silver followed up with a performance that was equal parts anodyne and aggressive – the oohs and aahs were twee, soothing even, but they were sometimes sung over dubstep wobbles (‘1000 Years’).
You can tell it was +2dB’s turn next when the crowd gathered closer to the console, like a Salem mob encircling the two for a pagan ritual. It helped that their gothic garb and hair colour combo, particularly Jeannie’s, made for an appearance that can be best described as “seapunk coven” (to quote Jo Ann herself). The duo was made to perform at such a venue, and once their EP-length set began, the night’s mood got to critical mass – intimate, intense, morose, and even joyful at times. Sure, there were technical issues occasionally due to the microphones, but those were relegated to the gaps in-between songs. ‘New Heights’, when performed live with Pastel Lite, actually did reach the song title’s namesake. And their rendition of ‘Totem’, with Darren going overdrive on the Kaoss pads, showed a different side to +2dB. It was the duo at their most fun, and so were the audience.
Second headlining act, VMPRMYTH, had to play a difficult set. His moody LP wasn’t a collection of songs that could easily be put together into a workable mix, let alone one that could get the involvement of the audience’s involuntary body movement. None of these turned out to be a worry though, VMPRMYTH smartly interspersed music from his other projects into the album’s mix. At one point even playing MUSCLE//MACHINE’s ‘Good Girl’, which got some of us wishing that the duo didn’t break up so early into their career. Still, right then was the man at his most productive and it showed how much he was enjoying it just from the mien of the moment.
Reddi Rocket closed the night with a rather impromptu Cashmere Cat-dominant DJ set. Those who stayed till the end witnessed a promising DJ-producer while those who didn’t stick longer joined us in the drunken revelry that was the afterparty at Indiego & Co..
NB4T Pres. A Joint Launch of +2dB’s EP & VMPRMYTH’s HEROINe LP went down on Saturday 12 April ’14.
More event photos here.