Welcome to the invisible black hole! That’s the translation of “Kunnas”, the title of Seriate’s debut ep. I had the pleasure of seeing Seriate play in their native Malaysia in December, and what I witnessed was an intriguing performance of cutting edge ambience and avant-garde instrumental music.
Seriate’s “go to” track, which stands in the middle as the third of five pieces on this ep, is called “Noktah”. It typifies the unusual nature of this band’s thought process. Instead of having a classic post rock build up of atmosphere, it’s more like a series of mini adventures, hence my avant-garde tag, which invite the listener to pay attention to what’s coming next in this series of musical events, rather than allowing the clouds to form with a predictable storm at the end of it. “Noktah” is Malay for “end of journey” and the song is about the development of the band musically and as a formation, of the people in it and the point they have reached now. The result is colourful. It starts with a sophisticated prog and suggestively post rock ring before treading more dangerous waters. This reminds me in its progressive twists of Cynic or Canvas Solaris for a while, then mysteriously it’s as if we’re taking off in a capsule and sending ourselves through space, complete with cosmic sound waves. We come out on the other side with the epic and delicate ring of post rock before a brief, freeform ending that leads into “Ribut Akal”, which translates as “Brainstorm”. It is playful in its avant-garde nature. In fact it’s mind-boggling in its rapid-fire movement through each grainy passage, but unlike some bands who have a wealth of ideas and just rush through them, Seriate manage to defy logic and pull together these difficult passages and create a mysterious air of both excitement and drama at the same time. No wonder the sleeve of this ep shows a spacecraft burning its way through dark clouds. This is like a psychedelic jam session. I thought exactly that about “Noto”, which precedes “Noktah” and follows the short but menacing outerworldly opening piece “Bada’ah”. “Noto” threatens to develop into post metal and it has that ring about it, but instead follows its own urgently complex course. This is bold music. This 18 minute cosmic journey is brought to an end melancholically with “Thala’al”, which reminded me of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” until the spaceship finally whooshes by on its way to who knows where.
“Kunnas” has familiar styles yet cleverly engages attention thanks to its dynamic and unusual structures. It is a thoughtfully conceived and intelligent work with bags of personality and interest.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)