Friday, 3 May 2013

Ethnic Transmissions


Some or most of you might wonder why I am writing about an old stuff. My only reason is this thing is worth mentioning. This is the second album of a local indie rock band from Sarawak, Ethnic Transmissions. It was released in 2010. It took me years climbing mountain high and diving in the deep blue sea looking for this album and finally got it from the band member himself! Thanks a lot. 

I have always wanted to own ET's CD since I first discovered them singing their songs Engka and Ngarap on Youtube. That was way back in my university years. Well, I never had the chance to own the first album though. Of course that was a bit of disappointment for a fan back then. A major part of my life was spent listening to English songs because of parents' influence. Besides, I was not brought up speaking Iban at home although I am half Iban. So, Iban songs were never registered in my music genre repertoire, until I came across ET. Okay, that was a little of history how I started paying attention to Iban music. Next, let me introduce the band members. They consist of Macmillan Jua Lungan (vocal & guitar), Dennis Jonathan Fraude (keyboard), Daniel Ading (lead guitar), David Barieng Jacques (drums) and Norman Ading (bass guitar). They are also supported by a female vocal, Susanna Juan. As we all know, Daniel Ading recently quit the band and departed from the Dayak music scene for some reasons. It is saddening as I always like how he shreds his lead guitar. His absence in the band just leaves me wonder how will ET's music sound if they are to record their third album. 

Now, back to the album. There are nine songs, all are sung in Iban except the last track, which is in English Language. I personally think all songs are fantastic. It is uncommon to have an Iban album where all the songs are enjoyable, usually it is either a few or just one song. The sound quality is superb, not what we normally expect from a local album. It is comparable to any other original CDs you can get in music stores. What I like about the album cover is its design and of course the packaging. It is simple and environmental-friendly. The CD is packed inside a hard paper cover and wrapped in thin plastic. It might not be as protective as the hard plastic cover but it is sufficient to avoid the CD from getting scratched. In addition, it is space-saving. Apart from that, the cover design is cool and artistic. I dared to bet if you place this album on any music store shelf, no one would have guessed it is an Iban album judging from the cover.

Growing up as a teenager listening to OAG, Nice Stupid Playground, Limp Bizkit, Blink 182 and other alternative rock bands surely made ET's music genre easily relatable. Among my favourite tracks are Tasik Aku Nuan, Melah Pinang, Dara Iban Cina and A World Apart. I love blasting them in the car, especially when driving a long distance on weekends. They keep me awake and alert. If you listen carefully from the first to the last song, you will realise there is a plot about someone's love life. This is the essence which makes the album is so special as it revolves around a familiar theme that we all can identify with. ET's labour of love in this album eventually led them to gain a few recognition at local music award events. They won The Best Performance at AJARR 2012 and also The Best Music Arrangement at Anugerah Muzik Dayak 2012.

Everyone in the local music scene surely knows Ethnic Transmissions is the catalyst in Iban music industry's evolution and revolution. The band is undeniably the agent of change, without their music I bet today we will still be watching those lame karaoke Iban music videos or dancing to the 'dangdut' beats! Sorry for being a little harsh on that, but it is a fact. At least now we have more varieties to choose from in terms of music genres. ET's uniqueness sent shockwaves in the local music scene which then bred more talents such as Masterpiece, Hevance, Taju Remaong, Majestica, and the list goes on. They inspired and challenged young people to pursue something different and try new things. Gradually we could see how their influence through music caused rippling effect to Sarawak music landscape, to the extent a few local artists won a few prestigious awards either in the country or at international level. Their efforts and sacrifices apparently never gone to waste. They are worthy of a legend stature in the Dayak music industry, may be not now but one day. My personal hope as a fan of many seasons and moonlights, the band will continue to create music. But even if they do not, their music and contribution will never be forgotten.





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