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Isnin, Oktober 11, 2010

Strike up the band


Thursday September 23, 2010

By DARYL GOH
entertainment@thestar.com.my

Forget solitude and singularity, singer-songwriter Meor is turning up the volume with the boys this weekend.

AS a well-weathered busker and freelance guitar teacher, Meor Yusof Aziddin can do what he wants, when he wants – and he applies that philosophy to his singer-songwriter life.


The Bruas, Perak-born folk music maverick shuffles his cards at his own pace. He is not restricted by day-job routines, but when the 43-year-old singer means business, he really buckles down and burns for his art.



Meor has had a busy past few months, writing his much-awaited autobiography (Gila Muzik) and re-recording his songs for an upcoming acoustic-based compilation (Kompilasi Komplikasi), with a nationwide tour planned behind it.

Friends: Folk singer Meor (left) and guitarist R.S. Murthi – together with bassist Jazlan Norman and drummer Paul Millot – will be performing at the Annexe, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur, this Saturday.
Then there is the Meor & Friends project, a four-piece folk rock band that came into the live scene this year.

“If the question is, ‘Why get into a band now?’, then the answer is, ‘Why not, it is the right time,’ ” said Meor, with a hearty laugh, in an interview early this week.

Adjusting to life with bandmates – guitarist R.S. Murthi, bassist Jazlan Norman and drummer Paul Millot – has been relatively easy for Meor.

This weekend project can only get bigger. Meor & Friends undertakes its first headlining show at the Annexe Gallery in Central Market, Kuala Lumpur, this Saturday.

The band is scheduled for an hour-long set – divided into acoustic and electric sessions. The material, as Meor pointed out, will be centred mostly on the Aku & Bulan and Itu Padang ... Aku Disitu albums.

The show is also set to be recorded for a live album and DVD release.

“It was Murthi’s idea to start up a band and to work around my songs – re-intrepreting them in a band setting. It was a spontaneous decision ... as you know, the best things in life are never planned. After four gigs as Meor & Friends this year, this ‘experiment’ has become an increasingly rewarding experience,” he added.

Meor, who is a more familiar sight as a lone troubadour on stage (and the only licensed busker at KL Sentral), has settled into the band environment comfortably and his music has thrived with new ideas distributed and shared by the bandmates.

As the band’s unsung driving force Murthi, 51, a music critic turned producer/musician, has been a close friend of Meor for over 15 years. The relationship has been one of music and creative kinship.

He also produced the folk singer’s acclaimed albums Itu Padang ... Aku Disitu in 2003 and Aku & Bulan in 2004, which naturally makes Murthi an obvious choice to turn this new Meor & Friends project into something substantial. Murthi also had a hand in the Kompilasi Komplikasi recordings.

“After collaborations together over the years, you could say that Meor and I have built a symbiotic creative relationship ... we have more or less the same folk and rock influences, making it easy to communicate on a musical common ground,” said Murthi, who singled out Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and John Martyn as some of the core inspirations for this outfit.

For over two decades, Meor’s story and songs – filled with personal struggles, raw reflection and creative challenges – have resonated in the music scene, especially with favourites like Lagu Sofa Biru, Sama Antara Sesama, Revolusi Mental, Itu Padang ... Aku Disitu right through to a psych-folk freak-out on Bulan and new track Selapis Kaca (lyrics by writer/poet Jimadie Shah Othman), which are tunes scheduled for the setlist this Saturday.

“Essentially, the melancholy mood of the songs remains ... we didn’t destablise them, we’re still circulating in the folk orbit (laughs). The new chord arrangements, at times darker, have made the material more intense to recreate live. It’s not just beefing up with electric guitars, but rather, it’s more like searching out fresh textures and colours for the material,” concluded Meor with a promise of a night to remember this weekend.

> Meor & Friends plays the Annexe Gallery, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur this Saturday. Showtime is 8pm. Support acts include Azmyl Yunor & Band, Cats In Love and Archtop Soul. Entry by minimum donation: RM15. Hotline: 012-590 1798. Browse ‘Meor & Friends live at Annexe’ on Facebook.

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