PETALING JAYA: How do you describe the sound of a city?
About 20 years ago, a journalist attended an underground gig featuring several Ipoh bands including Muck, Bloodymary, Shizuka, and Boneless Mahoney. While this journalist’s name seems to have been lost to time, what remains is the term he or she used to describe the event’s distinct music: “Ipoh Sound”.
This phrase resonated with Ipoh music producer Mohd Jayzuan, founder of the music collective Projek Rabak. In 2020, while recording his third album “Filokalis” in Lumut, Perak, the studio owner offered him the chance to create a compilation album.
The result is a diverse recording of “the rusty, sometimes choppy, tense, sloppy, playful and noisy music” of performers and bands from Perak, with songs such as “Dialek Sinis” and “Bla Bla Bla” by Harmacy; “Pakai Buang” and “Ambil Beri” by Lovethee; “Ballad Ayah Muda” and “Marhanoise” by Meor Hailree; and “Psyche” and “Cloud of Mine” by HEM.
What better name for this unique musical mix than “Ipoh Sound”?
“I chose bands and artists based on the ones I liked, which had ‘slacker rock’ characteristics. I wanted to produce a compilation to celebrate Ipoh, which is known for its slackerism, laidback, chill, playful and not-so-serious nature,” Jayzuan told FMT Lifestyle.
“Ipoh Sound” was released on Jan 26, even though the recordings were done in 2020. This timing was fortuitous, Jayzuan said, as it coincided with Ipoh being recognised by the Unesco as a Creative City of Music late last year.
The process of working with the performers whose 10 tracks feature on the album started with him listening to their demos and rehearsal recordings. He followed this by reading the lyrics and having the artistes rewrite them several times before going into the studio.
“The bands and I explored as much as we wanted. That’s the beauty of indie rock: it doesn’t have to be subject to radio tastes and isn’t afraid to go beyond the limits,” Jayzuan commented.
The best part of the project, he noted, is that every part of its creation involved members of the local community, from the recording sessions to the creation of the album cover art.
“We even had friends who were with us during the five days of recording, and they produced a documentary about this compilation. So far, no one has profited in the form of money yet, but we are all sure we have benefited in the form of friendship. Shout out to everyone involved!”
Presently the album is only available for listening online, but Jayzuan is open to collaborating with anyone who might be interested in creating physical copies of any format.
He also hinted that he had further plans for the project, but teasingly declined to elaborate until all plans are finalised.
What makes the album even more unique is that it features two works of poetry, “Salut Lapangan SSI” and “KTM Ipoh (Road to Home)”, by Jack Malik. He told FMT Lifestyle: “I really enjoyed being part of the project. We got a chance to be part of something amazing – writing a love letter to our beloved ‘city of slackers’.
“I hope this will kickstart more projects about and for Ipoh, as well as other cities in Malaysia,” Jack added. “I want to hear ‘Temerloh Sound’, ‘Sungai Petani Sound’, ‘Muar Sound’, ‘Bintulu Sound’ and many more.
“If not for our people, who will celebrate our hometowns, our places of origin?”