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Mala Petaka > Sang Mala Petaka > Reviews > NausikaDalazBlindaz
Mala Petaka - Sang Mala Petaka

Pain, emptiness and anguish in debut raw BM / keller synth darkness - 72%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 15th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, Digital, Independent

Known as Earth of Misery until this year (2024), Indonesian solo BM / keller synth act Mala Petaka (Indonesian for "great destruction" or "holocaust") brought out its debut release of darkness and doom "Sang Mala Petaka" for those earthlings immersed in misery at the change of name and more besides. Everything on this album – writing and performing the music and lyrics, the mixing and mastering, the production and the artwork – was done by Mala Petaka solo proprietor Fixshit. As determinedly DIY projects go, this one is very distinct in its style and sound: shrill and piercing raw fizzy BM guitar grind meets clean-toned though mournful bobbing synth bubble melodies while wraith voices shrouded in shadow rage in the background. Everything sounds so basic, and the production is not anything out of the ordinary yet the music drips with melancholy and the guitar buzz is filled with pain and torment.

All five songs on this debut are fairly short with none lasting over five minutes but every moment in each track brims with deep sadness and a strong sense of isolation and emptiness. The first couple of songs - the title track and "Titah Singgasana Abadi" ("The Eternal Throne Decree") – are sung in Indonesian and initially don't appear very different from each other, the second song almost following straight on from the first in pace, style and range of sound. Fuzzy, slightly noisy raw guitar melody goes head-to-head with the wobbly warbling synth notes while soft percussion rattles and shakes and flubs fairly quickly and the harsh whispery voices rant in the darkness. The guitar sometimes has a strong resonant ringing sound that can sound quite rich, almost like a church organ. Third track "World of Misery" features English-language lyrics and even more doleful synth melodies in music that harmonises even more than in the earlier tracks.

"Forgot Myself" goes out on a more experimental path with solo raw guitar riffing over a constant pulsing and rattling beat. The synths are not quite so dominant here, but they still lend their sorrowful tones and bleating accompaniment to the guitar, the throbbing percussion and the strange voices trapped somewhere in the tangled mix of guitar and keyboards. Final track "Jiwo" includes samples from a song "Sewelas" performed by a Javanese langgam orchestra, and though it sounds much like everything that's gone before it, the track seems much noisier and harsher, more pained and unhappier still.

The recording is very clear, even the muted drumming and the voices on "Jiwo" can be heard or at least sensed. The album sounds like one long song of five parts but that could be to maintain a sense of isolation, alienation and depression that the rest of the world doesn't (or more likely, refuses to) understand. The melodies are constantly busy in their meanderings, almost to the point where they seem machine-like and a bit deranged. The one song that sticks out more than the others is "Forgot Myself" with repeating riffs that have a pleading quality and a rich sound from all those layers of harsh texture from the guitars, the percussion and the ghost vocals. The thudding percussion gives the track a hypnotic quality.

With a minimalist style of music, simple song structures based on repetition, and guitars, percussion and keyboards basically keeping in time together, this album wouldn't be expected to be much more than raw BM anger and depression. It turns out to be a deeply heartfelt recording filled with anguish and existential pain.