[January 1, 2015]
2015 is an important year for Kekal because the band is approaching 20 years this coming August. And as a gesture to welcome this so-called ‘monumental’ year, Kekal will be releasing a new album, the band’s 10th studio full-length album, called “Multilateral”. I am pleased to tell you how grateful I am, to be able to present you one of the strongest albums (in terms of music, lyrics, as well as illustration by Levi) produced under the name Kekal during this important period.
One of the important traits in “Multilateral” is diversity. I believe that one of the reasons Kekal survived doing music in the past 20 years, is because of the diversity in the music. Whether you like it or not, Kekal has chosen to stay in this pathway, comfortably. The music of Kekal carries a political statement as well. There has been a growing intolerance to differences in this world. People tend to see differences as threats rather than as contributors to the richness of the colourful humanity. I personally believe in the establishment of unity in diversity, and the music of Kekal surely reflects that premise.
Well, to cut it short, there are 11 tracks on “Multilateral” and here I am presenting you the full track listing along with the commentary.
You can download 9 tracks for free as well (just click the download icon next to the track name).
Below is the breakdown:
1. Token Discontentment
This particular track was deliberately written as an album opener in mind, a Kekal album opener to be exact. And I would like it to be heavy, fast, and to carry much more energy and groove than any of the tracks from previous 3 Kekal albums. The idea was to emulate the basic energy when Kekal just started as a band in 1995: Raw, fast and straight-forward.. Of course there is no such thing called ‘nostalgia’ in the musical philosophy of Kekal. You can reference the old time, but you’ll never go back to the old time again, because time itself is moving forward. I particularly like the tone of the main guitars. Their crunchiness is hypnotizing, although this won’t become the main ‘tone-of-choice’ for the rest of Kekal tracks. Guitar solos are also important for this track, to further enhance the emotions.
2. Dividend in Division
I can’t say much about this track, only that I love the groove. It has been a while since Kekal released tracks with this amount of groove that will make your body move. probably since Acidity album in 2005? Just play it loud and enjoy the groove, we’ll talk about more stuff later!
3. Jakartan Arch-Captor
I knew I had to make at least a song about my birthplace, which is of course, Jakarta! But hell no, I didn’t want to write personal stuff in this track. Well, Jakartan Arch-Captor is indeed about the struggles of people growing up and living in huge metropolitan Jakarta. You could actually live and make an impact if only you could seize the opportunity, but opportunity wouldn’t come to you by itself, unless you were the one who captured it by overcoming problems after problems. Production is quite modern, with a good balance between organic rock and experimental electronic madness. This track has become one of the most favourite Kekal tracks on SoundCloud. I’m glad that people, from wide musical tastes, actually dig it.
4. By Means of Survival
This track is one of the first material I wrote for the “Multilateral” session. It’s all about seeing yourself aging, getting old.. Kekal is turning 20 years this year. The musicians in Kekal were around 20 years-old when Kekal started in 1995, and all of the sudden now we have to add another 20 years on top of that. It’s a pretty dark song so to speak. While not as depressive as some of the songs from “Audible Minority” album, but this one carries a retrospective tone both lyrically and musically. Realizing that we can’t turn back the clock and fight our time, the only option is to move forward. Now how do we spend our time moving forward? Are we just merely surviving, or should we keep exploring and discovering new things? Musically, I like the breakbeat rhythm section with glitchy drumwork part as it brings some hectic, chaotic atmosphere to the otherwise darker and almost tranquil ambient piece. This is a kind of low-key composition with elements wrapped around the huge Taurus bass sound as the main drive.
This track has a direct reference to the album “1000 Thoughts of Violence”. In fact it’s the closest thing to that album in terms of energy and delivery. It has everything from fast triplet blast beats mixed with the d-beat style drumming, energetic metal riffs, and a chaotic breakdown. But there are important, complementing elements that I’ve never used before in this kind of fast metal music, like the use of bass synthesizer, electronic glitches, and autotune effect for some of the vocal parts. The lyrics talk about net neutrality and open access to knowledge.
I believe this was among the first tracks I wrote for the album, and the album title was named after this tune. As far I can remember, I used only an acoustic guitar for the entire guitar tracks, including the distorted ones. It sounds rather different than many of the tracks in the album, but very much Kekal nonetheless. It has a perfect balance between electronic and organic elements.
7. Metropolis Noir
The idea came out after my favourite blend from my favourite coffee brand here in Canada. This was also a reference to the music and coffee life of Levi (former Kekal bass player and now does the illustration for Kekal). He’s an avid coffee enthusiast and loves coffee as much as he loves listening to Portishead’s debut album “Dummy”. So I thought, why don’t we make a kind of ‘coffee-table’, chillout tune for Kekal? It is basically a laid-back, urban, trip-hoppy, caffeine-induced song, using mainly acoustic guitar as the base and a sleep-deprived Vocaloid singing the first verse, but there is a surprise moment at the end, in a typical Kekal fashion.
This particular tune was relatively easy and quick to produce, and one of the quickest-made songs in the entire Multilateral repertoire. Basically it’s a very simple mid-paced rock song, built on top of dub groove with some kind of ‘dreamy’ or ‘shoegazing’ atmosphere added to the mix. It has the signature of Kekal chord progressions here and there, but at the same time it adds new and surprising elements, particularly with the Vocaloid (Megurine Luka) taking care of the feminine melodic singing. It gives a nice variety and diversity to the album, I suppose.
9. Heyday (Unlike Today)
This track was actually written and constructed during the same period as the other electronically-driven tracks you found on “Unsung Division EP”. It is pure electronic, almost in the Autechre way of constructing it. There's no drum involved in this track. I actually had a struggle between adding this track or “The God Particle” to the Multilateral material. “The God Particle”, my personal favourite in particular, sounds more organic and reggae/dub-ish, thus logically might fit better with the other tracks on Multilateral. But I felt that this track should be added to the album instead, as “The God Particle” works better as a closing/final track of a release, and I have chosen “The Unwritten” as the most suitable track to finish this album. Hence “The God Particle” was on the EP instead.
Another electronic-based tune in the album. The song builds itself upon the solid, buzzy-sounding synthesizer and the vintage sounds of TR-909 electronic drums, but without leaving the guitar elements as a main driving force. What I love about this song is the quiet but tense build-up moment in the middle as it goes right towards the end of the song where it finally breaks free when the chorus gets reprised. It has a familiar atmosphere that’s comparable to “A Real Life to Fear About” from the 2007 album “The Habit of Fire”. Another element I like here is the glitchy layer of noise during the chorus; it’s not as loud and punishing like you would find in the “8” album or “Audible Minority”, but this track has a direct reference to those particular albums.
11. The Unwritten
This is probably the most challenging song I've written & produced for Multilateral session. The original idea was to reference "My Eternal Lover" for the general vibe, the kind of reflective, quiet ambient piece with only layers of clean electric guitars. But halfway through the process, after the lyrics were made, I found something missing. There was this necessary need for a darker emotion to be added to the mix, like some sort of angst and fear, and I could not fill that with just the quiet ambient piece alone. I tried multiple instruments, synthesizers, etc. they just didn't work. So after some thoughts I then ended up adding a layer of fast blasting metal further in the background - wrapped with huge amount of reverberation. That works to help give the song a grim, sinister atmosphere - but the main part stays quiet and transcendental enough as it is meant for reflection as opposed to catharsis. I used Vocaloid for the entire vocal parts, especially because Megurine Luka’s tone fits the best for this kind of darker atmosphere, and I just don’t want, or basically can’t sing it myself. The lyrical subject matter is very dark; it is an introspective reflection towards a hypothesis of technological singularity. I've had nightmares during recording and mixing this track. It was crazy. I could not stay too long working this track, as it affected my emotions. That was one of the reasons it took me quite long to finish this one, almost 20 months. But I think this song is perfect as a reflective ending of Multilateral. Halfway through the song, the music abruptly shifts into the realm of cacophony with a very loud, distorted, bass-heavy, noisy, harsh, ear-slashing mechanical post-industrialized metal section that, I think, comparable to the early sound of Godflesh. You might want to throw fists or raise your hands in the air listening to this track.