火曜日, 8月 30, 2005

We didn't start the fire... or did we?

a long time ago in 1871, HH sultan ali al-mukammal inayat shah, the sultan of perak died. my great-great granddad, YM raja abdullah ibni al-marhum sultan jaafar, who was then the raja muda would have been the new sultan if it wasn't for the subsequent coronation of HH sultan ismail muabbidin shah. as raja muda, great-great granddad was supposed to be sultan, and rightly so, according to the traditional system of the perak rajas. at the same time, great-great granddad wasn't too happy to argue his case with the other rajas because in order to do so, he had to pass the area of sayong, the stronghold of one raja yusuf and his sons, who also wanted to lay claim to the throne.

it was also a time of turmoil in the larut region. larut is rich in tin (legend has it that a runaway gajah that was found by long jaafar had mud all over its legs - mud which was rich in tin ore.). i'm sure you remember from your sejarah lessons in school about the ghee hin vs. hai san secret society war. to paraphrase blackadder's daft side-kick, baldrick, great-great granddad then had a cunning plan.

he wrote a letter to sir harry ord, who was then british governor of the straits settlement in singapore (later governor of western australia), asking for help. unfortunately for great-great granddad, sir harry felt that it wasn't in her majesty's empire's interest to meddle in the affairs of the orang melayu. however, when sir harry left in 1873, the new straits settlement governor, sir andrew clarke, was, should i say, more helpful in response to great-great granddad's request for intervention.

the help didn't exactly come without a price, though.

great-great granddad would be sultan with the quid pro quo agreement that the british will appoint one james wheeler woodford birch as the resident who would advise him on administrative and taxation affairs, short of hal ehwal orang-orang melayu. on top of that, great-great granddad had to also pay birch's salary. the cheek!

the agreement between great-great granddad and the british was signed on board the HMS pluto off the coast of pulau pangkor on january 20th, 1874. great-great granddad was now HH paduka seri sultan abdullah muhammad shah II, whilst sultan ismail was deposed. and as everyone knows, the people of perak, led by datuk maharaja lela, weren't exactly too chuffed with the meddlesome ways of birch. birch was assasinated in pasir salak in 1875 and great-great granddad was sent into exile to the seychelles in 1877. raja yusuf (of sayong fame) was then made sultan.

soon after, the british empire began to take interest in the other malay states and the rest is, of course, history.

would malaysia be different if great-great granddad didn't write that letter to singapore in 1871? i guess the british empire would have come into the picture anyway, later if not sooner. with them having a stronghold on penang, malacca and singapore, i say that it was inevitable that the british would come.

and who knows what would happen if raja abdullah decided to chuck the letter asking for help into the muddy waters of sungai perak? the picture that was the history of malaysia under british rule would have been painted differently, although probably no less volatile than what it already was.

selamat menyambut kemerdekaan 48 tahun, malaysia.

i read with interest an article about a hawaiian tune being similar to negaraku in today's issue of the star. negaraku was adapted from the state of perak's official anthem. the story went that when HH paduka sri sultan sir idris went to england to see queen victoria, the palace officials wanted to know if perak had a state anthem. my great granddad, raja mansur ibni sultan abdullah, who was the sultan's aide-de-camp, simply hummed the tune of terang bulan to the bandmaster, which he had listened to in the seychelles, played by bands in the gazebos. according to this site, the tune was a then popular french melody composed by pierre-jean de béranger.

this is why i got so incensed when some bright spark decided to change the anthem to a march beat a few years ago. thankfully, negaraku is back to what it was before. the original anthem was majestic (like god save the queen - okay, not the sex pistol's take lah!), and in no way lembab.

just what were these people thinking?

日曜日, 8月 28, 2005

Lancashire Travelling Blues

i've been wanting to upload this very short video and it has been just under a year until i've finally found out how! hahaha. it was one fine winter's day when i was traipsing around manchester city centre. didn't exactly shop very much. besides this was 2004. that year.

in front of zara was this big green brolly with feet-tapping blues guitar music coming out from under it, and there was this fedora-ed chap was happily singing away whilst doing some astonishing licks on his strat. i have written about this, but watching this chap show off his blues chops is way better than just reading about it.

just press PLAY.

土曜日, 8月 27, 2005

It sells

i don't really like tim wheeler's voice, although ash sounded really good live when i saw them support the darkness sometime late last year. my favourite tune by this downpatrick foursome is burn baby burn.

give me the four reasons why i like this song. anyone?

inspired by and dedicated to bluescrubs and faiez.

Sonic blurbs: The 1978 Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress

faley commented in my previous entry that i should record some short mp3's for you guitar lovers (yes, all four of you. or is it five? hahaha. tak ramai, anyway.) so that you can check out what my newly-acquired 1978 'mistress can do. it's simply a flanger, but it does a good chorus effect as well as a mild-mannered tremolo to boot.

i used my telecaster via the GT-3 multieffects which had the fender twin amp simulation on. the 'mistress was placed after the GT-3.

this is what the 'mistress' chorus sounds like.

COME AS YOU ARE (kurt cobain/nirvana) ©1991 virgin songs inc. / the end of music (BMI). as heard on the DGC release, nevermind.

the tremolo effect is not too bad, either. obviously, it will be no match for an dedicated tremolo stomp-box.

YOU AND ME (jason wade/jude cole) ©2005 G-Chills / Songs of Dreamworks(BMI) / Warner Chappell Music (BMI). as heard on the geffen release, lifehouse.

then again, when you buy a flanger, you really wanna do this. i set the GT-3 to the 1959SL marshall head sim and kicked in the ibanez TS-9, again with the tele.

JETTO BRACK (kudo) ©2005 makbearmusic.
what album?!

look out for more sonic blurbs in the future!

thanks to yi chun-kun for his assistance in making this entry work!

水曜日, 8月 24, 2005

Mat rock

i'm sure a lot of you remember the days when malaysian rock bands like search and wings had to have their locks shorn off, some time in the late 80's and early 90's. artistes or bands with long hair were then banned from performing their songs on national telly. their songs were also banned from radio airplay if they didn't follow the information ministry guidelines. thanks to the then information minister, the word kena gam was synonymous with diminishing popularity and poor record sales. i vividly remembered a newspaper article that showed amy, the frontman of search, having his hair royally shorn by the said minister.

yesterday afternoon, i watched this muat turun-ed segment from a variety show on RTM called zoom in: man kidal and friends. great guitar playing from malaysia's hard rock fraternity. the playing was so tight, you could squeeze a piece of coal into a de beers diamond.

it was really surreal, to finally see long flowing locks back on national telly!

and just look at whose name that has been credited as one of the music arrangers.

cayaaaa lah!

thanks to serih for the heads up on torrent malaya.

火曜日, 8月 23, 2005

I am was an eBay virgin

eBay is evil.

i first heard about eBay like 4 years ago when my brother was bidding on musical equipment for his recording studio. it sounded like a right faff but you do get the goods for cheap. nowadays, eBay's pretty much the best market for second hand items (i can't seem to find decent second hand gear at guitar stores nowadays).

i have bought items on eBay (not that many, just a pathetic 4 next to my eBay ID, with no star), all of which was of the buy it now variety.

why did i say eBay was evil? well, a few days ago i tried my luck bidding for an item.

it was a 1993 american (not the current reissue one that's made in a place south of california) fender blues deluxe 40-watt valve amp. there was only one bidder and it was too good to be true to see that it stayed that way till two days prior to the day bidding ends. my gut feeling was that there were lurkers like myself ready to pounce on it in the final few seconds. despite the fact i knew of that likelihood, i put my bid for the item.

the following two days was hell, i tell you.

questions like "is my maximum bid high enough?" and "will there be many lurkers sniping at the 59th second?" were buzzing around my cranium. i tried to make myself feel better by saying that i could only afford to pay what my maximum bid was. but then i also felt like, "alaah... only ten quid more, bid higher laa!". scramn it!!!

i was glued to the monitor like a someone who was betting on the dogs at walthamstow. the funny thing was i actually used one of the auction sniper sites, which would put in my ultra-fantastic bid of £xxx.xx 3 seconds before the bidding war ends - which i naively felt would blow the competition away.

10... 9... 8...

aiyaaa. cepat laaahh!!!!

yes!!! 3... 2... 1...

*and suddenly silence* (to paraphrase obi-wan kenobi)

fcukrawalaaaaaaa!!!!! cibretttttttttttt!!!!! p***tieeeennnnnnnnngggggg!!!!!


just don't ask.


on a happier note, i received my electric mistress this morning. picked it up at the royal mail depot before going to work. showed it off to my consultant colleague who was also into guitars. rushed home and on the way, bought some 9v batteries. it sounded glorious. sent feedback to puan McC of dover, new hampshire.

this is an actual 1978 mistress (just see the marks, man). i've tried the neon's mistress last year and like it, the flange was superbly natural and warm. tweaking the rate up gave me a sweet yet mild tremolo effect (can't wait to get my hands on my new voodoo labs tremolo box i bought from lmsn). bringing the range and rate down a little the mistress gave a luscious chorus. further tweaking of the chorus gave me a tone reminiscent of nirvana's come as you are (so, no need to get a small clone. for now. hahaha.). bringing the color up and appropriately changing the rate gave me the classic jet engine sound. wings' taming sari anyone? *ini kisahhh... keris taming sariii....*


so, are the days which see me dealing with eBay numbered?

fat chance, especially when it comes to getting that amp (unless i find it in a shop first). to quote jimi:

here i come, baby... i'm comin' ta GITCHA!!!

日曜日, 8月 21, 2005

Moh makan!: Leftovers

when you think i could go so low. i love them!

ya encik?
roti canai rende. garing aa?
baeekk.... rende roti gareenngggg!!!
koli kari wone'.
koli kariiii wone'!!!
teh tarik kurang manis.
teh tarik kurang maneees!!!

pity that i've run out of condensed milk, otherwise i would've had all of the above sans the mamak taking the order.

next mission: learn to make fluffy chappatis like the goddess.

火曜日, 8月 16, 2005

Born under a bad sign

i brought stitch to see the doctor today.

stitch is what i call my bass guitar, after the psycho extraterrestrial quasi-koala (see sticker on the headstock). i don't give names to any of my other guitars. or amp. or car. no daisy, lake placid blue-y or joyah. why the exception here, then? no profound reasons, really. it's because of the aforementioned sticker. that's it.

the A string sounded absolutely duff. i've checked the saddle heights. checked for potential sources of buzzing. knowing me, i usually couldn't be arsed to get to the bottom of the problem (hey, a pun!). so, i left work a little early and brought it to the local store, and hope steve won't tell me it needs a set-up (stitch hasn't been for one since the day i bought it in 2001!). as i thought, the cause of the dullness in its tone was due to really basic problem.

tali mati.

i was sold a really naff string (it had only been two months) by another store just a few hundred metres up the road. i left the store with a new sparkling set of rotosounds and steve's words:

that's a shop that only sell guitars. unlike us, we are a guitar shop.

meow. pfft! pfft!

日曜日, 8月 14, 2005

The kiasu list

fancy finding this month's issue of guitarist magazine to have a dedicated feature on effects pedals, especially after just buying one on friday, whilst traipsing around the trafford centre this afternoon. in their perfect 10 article, my recent purchase made it (albeit in no particular order) into their list. for any of you gearheads, this is the list of the other 9 that made it in their search of vintage sonic nirvana:

1. boss CE1 chorus ensemble
2. mxr phase 90 phaser
3. boss DM-2 analogue delay
4. ibanez TS808 tube screamer
5. cry baby wah
6. electro harmonix zipper envelope follower
7. mxr dyna comp compressor
8. vox tone bender fuzz
9. electro harmonix big muff pi

i was happy to find that the amount of moolah splashed on my electric mistress was within the £50 - £130 range quoted for it (i bought a 1978 model). let's just hope it's in perfect working condition when it arrives from new hampshire this week (here's hoping)! what did guitarist mag had to say about the 'mistress?

"there are those who say the ADA flanger is the one to beat, but our money goes on the exotically-named electric mistress... users including andy summers and david gilmour."

walking on the moon anyone?

i do have a wah pedal, but the one that made it to the list wasn't a jim dunlop but one from jen, an italian company which was one of the first companies that made them in the late 60's / early 70's.

the list aside, this ish is a recommended read as there are further articles regarding the stomp-box - 51 great FX moments gives an account of the effects used in some of rock's well-loved tunes and perfect FX set-ups advises on ideal combinations of pedals for different genres. there's also an interview with roger mayer, the effects guru that designed effects for the likes of jimi hendrix and jimmy page, and pete cornish, the ex-ministry of defense engineer who is the UK's answer to bob bradshaw.

i think this issue is one i'd keep for future reference, rather than chucking it in the bin at the end of the month.

金曜日, 8月 12, 2005

The search for the elusive

these past few days saw me trawling through the pages of eBay UK. i can't exactly put a finger on what prompted me to do so. some time in the april of last year, i came across a guitar amplifier which had a £350 price tag on it. it was a hiwatt and i can't exactly remember whether it was a custom 50 or 100. it was a second hand head which had the wear and tear seen most likely as a result of years of gigging. lmsn rds would've killed to get the head but at that point in time, i was in the store to bag myself a fender telecaster which was going for cheap. i just shrugged the feeling off and drove home happily with the tele in a spanking new gig bag.

and for some reason, i began thinking of the hiwatt head again recently. a tinge of regret perhaps, but it wasn't financially viable for me at that time when i was in that converted barn of a store in castleford. why do i want another amp? do i really need it, or is it just a want? spending a few hundred quid on a want requires some very long thinking, or a very deep pocket.

i have, at the moment, a marshall valvestate 100R. i got it in 1998 from a store in sheffield for a mere £311 (they gave me an 11% discount). it is a hybrid amp, a single 12AX7 valve (or tube, in american-speak) in the preamp section before a solid state power stage. 3 channels, one clean and two for crunch. gigged for probably 5 times. 'blew up' once during lmsn rds' RATM cover band's performance. it took me years before realising what it could actually do. i blame myself for being not really tweaking the amp enough to get the tone i wanted. the neon once played my les paul through the marshall, and the amp actually sounded better than i thought.

nothing beats a valve amp, though. a hybrid like mine doesn't really count. then again, since i am more of a bedroom player, my friends have advised me against purchasing a high wattage valve amp as you can't get the tone you really want unless you don't mind having the cops knocking on your door. probably i long to be able to play a gig with a proper valve amp (i have once, when i played in newcastle - i used a JCM900 halfstack, but i only wished i knew how to properly tweak my then recently-acquired GT3 multieffects unit). i think i have never sat down long enough to sort out a tone with what i have. i remembered playing lmsn's american standard tele through the GT3 and my marshall. looking at the gig video now, i just wished i had put a little more thought in my GT3/amp settings. it has been a recurring problem. the shitty sound i had with my older effects unit (because i didn't know that i had to press this one button), the list goes on.

i had a long conversation with a mate recently, which centred on what we really want in our guitar sound. we agreed that it is no use kidding ourselves. why can't i sound like jimmy page / eric clapton / {*enter your guitar hero's name here*}? the simple answer to this is because we can only sound like ourselves. to the day i die, i will sound like kudo. i might argue anyone else wanting to sound like kudo would be a laughable notion, but if i wanted to, a better sounding kudo is possible with effort. no guitar pickup, pedal, and if i dare say, guitar or amp will make you sound like anyone else. you can only strive to sound better, if nothing else.

i once went to a paul gilbert guitar clinic for ibanez guitars and laney amps at ronnie scott's in birmingham. apart from a kazoo for a cover of hendrix's crosstown traffic, gilbert came up with tones by simply altering the pickups and volume/tone knobs. during the Q&A, someone asked why his PGM signature series ibanez sounded so different from the one gilbert was playing. gilbert said that the guitars he used in his recording were all stock models, off-the-rack with no extra modifications. paul gilbert would still sound like paul gilbert because he is paul gilbert. as simple as that. i am sure you have also heard a few more similar anecdotes pertaining to this aspect of guitar tone.

i now own two good guitars. i have a few others of a lesser quality, but i now don't have an excuse to do better with what i already have. i have to say, late last year, i managed to play along (in one of those rare occasions i get to do this) with my pearl jam records with my les paul plugged in straight to my marshall. no pedals whatsoever. i didn't even have to change amp channels. i finally learnt how to utilise the volume and tone knobs and the pickup selector on its own, to get what i hear on the record.

the road is still long but i was delighted i finally managed to be able to do what i saw in that clinic in birmingham that day. as uncle T used to say in his email correspondences to me - "pratice, practice, practice!".


despite this little rant, i have, after much deliberation and reading, made a purchase of this addition to my pedal chain on eBay today:


火曜日, 8月 09, 2005

The Slug and Lettuce

due to overwhelming and popular request (from one reader - you know who you are), i've finally got a food entry. i was up in the north-east a couple of days ago, visiting pinkfrog and delirium for some catching up over sunday nosh-up.

pubs in britain have really strange names sometimes, like the dog and parrot, for one. the slug and lettuce wasn't your traditional english pub but more of a chic eaterie, which is part of a nationwide chain. i've seen their branches in manchester and nottingham but haven't actually tried them. the newcastle one is quite big and there weren't that many patrons. i guess it pays to arrive early for sunday lunch.

the selection available was typical of the upmarket chain restaurant. i guess if you've been to one, you've been to them all. simply variations of italian and british cuisine. i opted for the tempura battered hake fillet with chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas, aka fish 'n' chips. hahaha. the hake was delightful although it still was just as nice as the haddock they serve at the old north shields joint i used to frequent, albeit less oily and a tad more expensive. tempura or not, i couldn't tell the difference with regular batter.

pinkfrog and delirium both had the butter-baked smoked haddock which was topped with asparagus and a poached egg, served together with some spinach and new potatoes. the haddock also came with a lovely lemon/garlic butter sauce (evil but nice). i am not that much of a fan of smoked fish. pinkfrog felt that it was a tad salty on its own but having it with the 'tatoes evened the flavours out a bit.

for dessert, all three of us shared the warm cinnamon waffle and choc fudge brownie, served with vanilla ice-cream and toffee/chocolate sauces to boot. now that was simply divine, although the serving was a little sparse to share between three people.

lovely food, service and atmosphere, but nothing out of the ordinary. recommended.

木曜日, 8月 04, 2005


as a kid, my favourite format of cartoons was anime (アニメ).

in those days, rtm's channel 1 (what is now tv1) would start at 3pm on a saturday with CHiPs (otai aje paham ni - hahaha), then at 4pm they'd show this mecha anime called broker corps machine braster. we only had a B&W toshiba in those days and i never failed to follow the exploits of tempe asuka and his team which comprised the usual chara combo of another young chap, a fat guy, a kid and a gorgeous woman (with the largest non-oriental sparkling eyes known to man). i remembered one day being told off by my late mom for watching doraemon (ni bukan untuk budak lagi, ni TADIKA!). i was twenty. go figure. hehe.

even now i still favour anime if you were to give me a choice. animation has gone through leaps and bounds with digital technology. gone are the days of handpainted cels - just take a look at matt groening's futurama and the new appleseed 2004. CG animation films of the pixar persuasion are great but when it comes to cartoons, anime really does it for me. when i was a student at medical school, anime was beginning to be a growing phenomenon in the west unlike malaysia. movies/OVAs were then available only at specialty comic shops like forbidden planet. i am sure one possible reason for the popularity of anime in those days was the availability of mild hentai titles the likes of urotsukidoji (mild on the hentai, not so on the violence. hahaha). i had to be content with the poorer quality of VHS in those days and some titles costed a bomb, as they sell them by the episodes (like bubblegum crisis which lasted for only 30 minutes per tape). i personally prefer to watch anime in japanese with subtitles, even if the story was set in the west with western characters. probably i had been scarred by watching badly dubbed versions on malaysian telly. who can't forget the teeny female voice used to dub the likes of nobita (the voice was so castrated in quality) and doraemon (this one is castrated times four). the subbed (as opposed to dubbed) titles available then were actually not many and we weren't really spoilt for choice.

manga was also quite popular with titles like ranma 1/2 and dragonball Z, but it didn't really catch on for me. not really into reading black and white drawings and you have to read it from right to left even though the text has been translated into romaji.

unlike the stories you see in western animation, japanese anime has a whole gamut of stories available. like manga, there is a multitude of anime titles aimed at different age groups ( shonen for boys, bishojo for girls, hentai for pervs - the list goes on). due to different cultural sensibilities, it would be normal to find violence, nudity and mild sexual references in animation aimed for upper primary school children and teens like naruto as an example. you would find tales revolving around issues seen in day to day life engrained in the story, may it be in mecha-type anime like macross, sci-fi like cowboy bebop or teen action like bleach (not THAT kind of teen action, dammit). so far in the few anime series i have watched, none were at the level of, say, MTV's moronic beavis and butthead.

with the advent of broadband internet connection in the recent years, current TV anime titles have been available for download via IRC and bittorrent. in a week or so after an episode of a series is being aired on the telly in japan, you get diehard fans doing the subtitles (fansubs, the anime version of scanlation) and it'd be available for the non-nihon go speaker to download and enjoy. i recently finished watching samurai 7 which was a delightful and somewhat faithful sci-fi adaptation of akira kurosawa's 七人の侍 shichinin no samurai (seven samurai). there were a few changes, obviously to suit the sci-fi nature of the series, but if any of you who had watched the original 1954 classic, many aspects of kurosawa's film remained in the anime. i thought seeing toshiro mifune's kikuchiyo as a steam-powered robot was one of the most enjoyable aspect of the story.

i think the somewhat serious aspect of these stories had maintained my interest in watching japanese animation. films made by the likes of mamoru oshii (patlabor and ghost in the shell) and hayao miyazaki (from my neighbor totoro to spirited away - can't wait for howl's moving castle) have so much more depth to them whilst maintaining the enjoyment factor that the audience would expect from a cartoon.