It’s not a supreme love epic. Just a pretty good one.
RELEASE DATE: 18 DECEMBER 2020 GENRE: ALTERNATIVE R&B / HYPER POP/EXPERIMENTAL HIP HOP TONGTONGASIA In Orang Malaya’s latest venture, the familiar territory of hip hop and alternative R&B is replaced by new hyperpop-experimental patinas to convey the rollercoaster of interpersonal relationships. Although the general colour of the songs is are similar to his previous works, there’s definitely a more unorthodox approach to songwriting and production in Karya Suprima Cinta, even when compared to his most recent singles such as ‘BZ Body’ and ‘Siang Tiada Matahari’. Released by independent label, TONGTONGASIA , the EP goes on for 18 minutes in the span of 7 tracks - the sort of length that doesn’t lend too much space for too many new ideas if one wants to remain conceptually consistent. This is probably why the first half of the EP melts into each other - and not always in a good way. Although the first half does come off a bit underwritten or tiresome, Karya Suprima Cinta makes up for it in the last two tracks. Calling any part of the EP underwritten might be the wrong yardstick to apply. It’s obvious that as much as there are very tangible themes being explored (the sense of self, relationship with others, love), the heart of Karya is the vibe. The nocturnal, bass-boosted, wavey soundscapes are mixed more prominently, or a least given more room to boast. Things like samples of gun sounds, or futuristic synths all invoke artists like JPEGMAFIA or KevinsAbstract, but tamer. Maybe the inclination to not stray too far from pop sensibilities stops it from becoming too abrasive. Or probably it’s just clearly Orang Malaya’s unfiltered personal expressions where the choice to go too crazy might a little insincere for him. Karya starts off with a lofi-esque intro and quickly draws you in with massive synthwave allure in ‘Racun + Madu’. The track jumps straight into the yin & yang contradictions of love - such as the magnanimous ego and feelings of invincibility that comes with it (“Rasa hebat, bulletproof, tembak hatiku…”) and the blurred lines found in choosing between ‘poison’ and ‘honey’. ‘Racun + Madu’ is ominous, showing off its hyperpop-influenced bass-boost throughout. Although a strong start the track loses its appeal pretty quickly, trailing into the next. While ‘Xde Rahsia’ stands strong with its creatively executed gunshot samples and other production flourishes - it’s the first instance where the songs too much like each other they’re not even worth addressing individually for me. That being said, ‘Xde Rahsia’ is a great testament to Orang Malaya’s vocals, reminiscent in some parts to The Weeknd if he was produced by JPEGMAFIA (a combination I want to hear now that I think about it) And then the first leg reaches rock bottom, with 'Stroke Ke Kamu'. Entirely nondescript psychedelic trap that gradually falls into forgettability. However, from ‘Wow Bulan’, the EP takes a turn for the better. The track itself is more lyrically substantive than the rest. Running with the bulletproof theme and feeling invincible, this track, along with ‘Flash Pecah Kepala’, shows Orang Malaya smoothly easing into making songs in Bahasa Melayu. Simple yet poetic, the moon becomes a subject of mortality, an expression of undying love, and personifying the celestial body like a guardian angel. All of which worked nicely with the nocturnal vibe of the production.
‘Putus Kawan’ takes it up another notch, production-wise, there are so many exciting electronic layers in this track that adds urgency to words about cutting off toxic friendships even if it involves ghosting them (“Aku takda gang//Tapi ada crew//Semua masalah diorang diorang cari aku//Selamat, selamat tinggalkan mu//Aku sekarang dah jadi hantu”). The song also contains one of my favourite verse from Orang Malaya: (“Ok Amaran, ini khayalan// Jangan samakan, realiti dekat tv itu semua sembang kencang//Common sense, kau taknak guna common sense//Aku taknak jadi like a tool for political//Jadi aku lyrical tinggal kawan kawan”). All of that exposition on top of a sick beat makes ‘Putus Kawan’ a great cut.
Karya Cinta Suprima reaches its epic conclusion with the last track, Flash Pecah Kepala. A distortion buffet containing head-shattering production and arrangement. A deliciously broken video-game soundtrack. All of this while Orang Malaya basically gives off a lyrical fireworks display, whether he’s flexing (“AKU NATURAL KAU MASIH BAHASA BAKU”) or musing about his conscience (“Cuba jadi baik//tapi Setan tarik”).
With an EP named Karya Suprima Cinta (Supreme Love Opus), there was a big possibility that it would fall victim to the hype. No record or track should only ever be listened to once before being reviewed, but even after several listens of the EP, it’s hard not to think about the potential this EP could have had if it had a more fully-fleshed out concept.
The EP is also a great gradual entry of Orang Malaya into writing songs in Malay. All of the alternating between languages never threw me off because they work well within the attitude and atmosphere of the record. Still, truly an avenue for a broader lyrical exercise for his future projects.
What Karya definitely exhibits is Orang Malaya’s production chops. Forward-thinking and innovative, there’s a huge territory of sound waiting to be explored by the artist as he incorporatse his previous dabbles into dancehall, alternative R&B, lo-fi, trap and more, all packaged into fresher - hopefully, more evocative - realms.
RATING: 3 / 5
‘ FAV TRACKS: FLASH PECAH KEPALA LEAST FAV TRACKS: STROKE KE KAMU