Northern region of Malaysia is one of the zones that are used to geographically describe the states in Malaysian Peninsular. Other zones are such as Central region, Southern region, and East Coast Region. Both Sabah and Sarawak or East Malaysia was excluded from this region because Sabah, Sarawak, and the peninsular are separated by the South China Sea, geographically. All of these regions, Northern region, Central region, Southern region, East Coast Region and East Malaysia collectively are Malaysia. These regions are consisted collectively by several states. The focus of this writing, the Northern Region of Malaysia is consisted of four states known as Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang and Perak. Each of this state is governed by different state administrators and has their own distinct language, culture and geographical features. This can also be proven in the emergence of bands that came from this region. Further reading and listening to the mixtape would shows the contrast and varieties that are being displayed by the bands from this region. However, the band features on this playlist is not the only bands that existed in this region, instead, they are among a chosen few that the writer had picked to display the varieties of sound characteristic. From the blasting racket of noisegrind and powerviolence, to poppy, dreamy yet depressive indie rock, or the lethargic sound of post-rock and doom metal, this region has a lot to offer. This writing would explains about the bands and their tracks featured on this mixtape. They are, but not only, the artists or bands that are based in the northern region of Malaysia.
- Moi Last Von — Last Hope (ft. Elwa)
This post-rock band also featured members from Satyagraha. You can tell that they worship Explosion in the Sky from the song structure and guitar tones. This track features spoken words at the beginning of the song before carrying into a dreamy emo-ish territory. Majority of the tracks are instrumental with occasional spoken words that would return to lullaby you.
Contact Moi Last Von here
- DOSA — Satanic Law Session
DOSA is a Noisegrind unit that has existed for quite sometimes. They had started since the late 90’s or early 2000, with a lot of releases under their belts. One guitar, one drum, one vocal and a lot of noise is the most accurate way to describe them. Their noise assault would leave you deaf. Oh, yeah, two out of three members of DOSA also play as Krosot.
Contact DOSA here
- Satyagraha — Non-Violence
Formed by the members of Parotid and Moi Last Von. Satyagraha is the band if you are looking for gloomy and bleak. Although the track in this mixtape started fast like a d-beat song, you should just wait until the heavy doom-lingering riff came in. They kinda remind of Ghaust in a way.
Contact Satyagraha here
- Krosot — Hydro 2020
Krosot is one of the earliest harsh noise unit in Malaysia. Their live performance would be consisted of homemade instruments and pedals. Krosot started as a solo project by Mack, before Madi joined in. Both of them also played in DOSA.
Contact Krosot here
- Northern Oi! — Unlast Stand
This is one of the newer band from Perlis. They play straight oi/street rock with rockish guitar lead and technical solo. Some part of their songs, especially the guitar parts sounded like modern hardcore with the addition of octave lead. But, damn it, I love them!
Contact Northern Oi! here
- Taliban Gang — Joint2020
Ah, our own Kedahan Hip Hop group. They consisted of several rappers and beat makers from Kedah. Their sound ranges from trap to vaporwave rap. I don’t know a lot about hip hop, but I’m kinda into them. Do you feel the same?
Contact Taliban Gang here
- Synkkyys — Dying World
This band consists of Edan from Parotid and 13-Das and Azmeer from Dissumpah. They had only started last year and had done several performances in Kedah, Perak, Penang and KL. They had also released a cassette so far. Their sound is what you can expect from d-beat and Kawakami worshippers! I heard they are planning for a split cassette with a European band. Let’s just wait for it. And also, contact the drummer if you are looking for design for your album covers!
Contact Synkkyys here
- Jaddah — Deep Wells
Jaddah is a unit that had been dubbed as Malaysian Deafheaven. But, for me, their sound reminded me of Envy rather than Deafheaven. Actually, Jaddah is kinda an international project rather than a local band. Farid (Guitar) stays in Kedah, Adib (Vocal/Synth) lives in Qatar and Puteri (drums) is from Singapore. Their previous bassist, Sam, had moved on to form Unpleasant and revived his old deathcore band, Tysonn.
Contact Jaddah here
- Delude — Hello, Future! (Demo Version)
This band was started circa 2007-2008 during the height of Indie Fever. Since then, they have released several singles, EP and full length. Their songs sounded different from each other. Some were more indie-ish while some are also more on the heavier side (for an Indie song, of course). This track is one of the earliest songs they had released and one of my favourites. I’m quite picky about local Indie rock bands, but this band is ok in my book.
Contact Delude here
- Unpleasant — Lost Culture
This project started last year. Not a lot of information can be found about this band. But I know that Sam, previously of Jaddah composed and played in this band. They had also played in Ipoh for a show, so far. I hope we will see more from them this year.
Contact Unpleasant here
- Tysonn — Foraging for Disgrace
I am not a fan of deathcore. But, I like Tysonn. No more explanation will be given. This band had been revived from the dead by Sam and several of his mates. I had seen their live performance once in 2014 or 2015 and since then, I was hooked. I hope I can see them in a show this year.
Contact Tysonn here
- Buddha Beat — Little Wings
Cheong of Soundmaker Studio (One of the independent music venues in Penang) is the mastermind of the soothing and minimal ambient sounds of Buddha Beat. Cheong plays guitar and flute while Krish plays tabla for this project. They also do vocals in between. Their sound is so soothing that you would go into a trance.
Contact Buddha Beat here
- Sasau — Bad Times
Sasau is a new hardcore punk band from Georgetown, Penang. I could not pinpoint their accurate genre, but, for me, their sound reminded me of 80’s hardcore punk. This band consists of Penang DIY scene all-stars, with members from Weot Skam, Mampos, White Crow and Coma.
Contact Sasau here
- Delta9 — Sense
This duo consists of husband and wife. Apit handled a number of equipment while his wife sang. Apit was also once a part of Penang’s legendary mincecore band, Shocked. Their live setup is quite minimalistic but effective for their kind of music. I think I can hear a bit of post-punk in their sound, especially, with the vocal style and the bass line.
Contact Delta9 here
- Crhymetyme — Small Circle
I discover Crhymetyme after their beef with a well known hip hop group that I won’t mention here. As I had mentioned earlier, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about hip hop, but I really like their style. I really like the way they pronounced their lyrics. They had released several singles on their YouTube channel and this particular track is from their first full-length. Check their Youtube channel for more!
Contact Crhymetyme here
- Fvrinv — Drive Me Crazy
Fvrinv is an electronic project based in Ipoh. Minimalistic beats and instrumental with more emphasis on her vocals, her tracks are dreamy and closer to a lullaby from a lover you never had. I had seen her performed live once in Ipoh and had fallen in love with her voice since then. Release more songs, please!
Contact Fvrinv here
- Liberty Chaos — Tirani
Liberty Chaos is a hardcore punk band from Kuala Kangsar. I saw them live for a couple of times and their energy was over the top. Similar to their peers, their songs talk about the scene, politics and anti-racism. They had organised a mini tour in Sumatra last year, playing three venues in Pematangsiantar, Tebing Tinggi and Medan.
Contact Liberty Chaos here
- Snore — Dusta Dunia
One of the latest bands from Ipoh. They described their sound as darkened hardcore. Their lyrics dealt with life problems and occultism. I was told that they had the idea to name their band “Snore” when they heard one of their bandmates snores. But, don’t be fooled by their name, they are heavy and chaotic! The members came from the ashes of older Ipoh’s bands such as Dinnertime Bandit and Portia. They are also the masterminds behind Bakteria Records and Decibel Records Store.
Contact Snore here
- Latiff Brothers — Persona
This band consists of brothers and Latiff is their dad’s name. They sounded like they were from the 70’s or 80’s Tokyo. Just by reading that, you will understand that they sounded a lot like city pop artists. They’re talented and educated in music with four of them studying music formally. Search for their songs on Youtube for more.
Contact Latiff Brothers here
- Terpe Rosok — No Violence, Do Powerviolence (x Major Threat)
Their songs are so fast, short and loud that I need to combine two songs for this mixtape. One thing interesting about Terpe Rosok is that they play old school powerviolence, similar to Infest, rather than the modernised version of powerviolence played by their peers. Check them out on their Bandcamp or get their cassette.
Contact Terpe Rosok here
- The Drunkard — Pengkhianat
This band consists of members from contemporary bands in Ipoh DIY scene. They play straight, no bullshit hardcore punk with emphasise on the punk side. The track, Pengkhianat is an angry song towards backstabbers.
Contact The Drunkard here
- Sihir feat. Azim Aliff — SAPNAI
Sihir is/was a bassist in a metalcore band, In Believer. But, nowadays, he has moved to rapping. He is also one of the members of Ranjit Bois, a hip hop group in Ipoh and also acted as producer for several tracks. This track also featured Azim Aliff from Taliban Gang.
Contact Sihir here
There are several DIY venues that exist in the northern region. But, two of the active venues are Soundmaker Studio in Penang and Dream Project Hall, in Ipoh. Usually, the venues would be rented by local scene kids or collective for gigs, but Soundmaker Studio would also organise their own gigs occasionally. These two venues are a must tour stop if you guys are coming over to the northern region of Malaysia.
Soundmaker Studio, Penang
The person behind Soundmaker Studio is Cheong, who had run the studio for a decade or more. He also played in several local bands and one of his projects had been featured in this mixtape. A number of international bands such as Rats Get Fat, Fyasco, Scrotal Vice and Leaving had played here. Several Indonesian bands that I had seen played here are AK47, Tiderays, and Bunga Hitam.
Contact Soundmaker Studio here
Dream Projects Hall, Ipoh
Dream Projects Hall is managed by Pyan, a veteran in Ipoh Indie Rock Scene. Previously, Dream Projects Hall was known as Khizanat Hall, under the management of Jayzuan, another veteran in Ipoh Indie Rock Scene. The name was changed after Pyan took over from him. Some Indonesian bands that have played here are Warmouth, Tesla Manaf, AK47 and Tiderays. There were also international bands such Rabies, Chrup, Khyll and Tiger Magic that had played here. This venue also acted as a distro for some of the local indie and underground releases.
Contact Dream Projects Hall here
Another interesting place to perform in Ipoh is PBUY or PeaceBeUponYOu, a clothing/coffee shop. They had a space on the top floor that had been used as a performing, exhibition and screening space. Coffeefaith from Yogyakarta and Kindred from Germany had performed here.
Contact PBUY here
Two of the main DIY Record Shops in the Northern Region are Ruas Store in Penang and Decibel Store in Ipoh. Both stores carry a number of local and international releases. The folks behind Ruas Store are also among the most active organisers in Penang. The store had also organised a few jam sessions inside their store. Similar to Ruas Store, the folks behind Decibel Store are also among the most active organisers in Ipoh. This store is operated by the folks in Terpe Rosok and Snore, who were featured in the mixtape. Hit em up if you want to distribute your releases over here or if you want to play in Ipoh or Penang!
All photos were either provided by the artists or taken from their social media accounts. All right reserved to the artists and bands featured on this mixtape. The tracks and bands featured on this mixtape are just a part of the northern DIY scene. There were some bands that I approached but did not send me any tracks or update. No hard feelings on my side though. I knew that with all the bad things happening right now, people should prioritise what is important for them. On that note, I would like to do a shoutout on artists and bands that were not included in this mixtape but will definitely worth your time if you would give some time to check them out. Hola to: Angkara, Parotid, Dissumpah, Perek Kasi Gerek, Tolakkok, Coma, Acid Rain, Kaki Seribu, Ef’il, DJ Miko, Space Gambus Experiment, Fausse Humanite, Restu Ibu etc! Thank you to Amet for designing the mixtape cover.
PS: I know my writing sucks, but do contact me if you have any inquiry.