I couldn’t sleep last night and for some reason I decided to dig out the shoebox containing most of my old tapes, the vast majority of which I had bought back when I was living in Johor.

As I looked through the shoebox, pulling the odd tape or two out and popping them into my radio, listening to the somewhat-degraded audio and the ever-present tape hiss (which is probably the equivalent vinyl crackle for my generation), I felt a keen sense of pity for the kids who’ve never experienced tapes, who instantly got into CDs and/or downloading and those who’ve never actually paid for any music in their lives. Sure, it’s more economical but to me they’re missing out on something. The feeling of holding a physical product in one’s hands, etcetc . . . something like that.

Most of the tapes I tried out yesterday sounded pretty crappy and incredibly lo-fi, but maybe my tape deck’s dirty and needs cleaning as well.

And, now, at the risk of alienating a vast majority of my readers, let me take you on a trip through an arbitrary selection of some of the more notable (for whatever reason) tapes in my collection:

My memory’s a bit fuzzy on whether it this or Rammstein’s Mutter (which I have, sadly, lost) that was the first tape that I ever bought, but I have a feeling it’s this one. I can’t remember why I bought this one, but I think that Fear Factory being on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack (the first movie, not the game) was a factor. I loved that movie, and I loved the music in it, and when I saw the name “Fear Factory” I’m pretty sure I jumped at it. Probably not the best place to start with them, I admit, but it’s not a bad album by any means.

Remember these guys? And remember that annoyingly catchy single of theirs? Yeah, I bought the tape and I rocked it so incredibly hard during the month or two after I got it. Living in Johor, I could get Singaporean TV channels (Channel 5 still trumps anything Malaysian TV has to offer) and so I watched these guys strut their stuff on that reality singing competition they entered (I forgot the name), and once the album hit I pretty much made it my mission to get a copy. I can’t help but grin sheepishly every time I think of myself and how I was back then.

How about this? Haha, I’m sure everyone went through this phase where they were really fucking into Linkin Park and their debut, and I was no different. It all started during this one time I was in Perlis during Raya. A cousin of mine brought along his Walkman and this tape and all the five of us (me, my brother and three of my cousins) listened to during the week or so we were together was this tape. I loved it, and a part of me still does, if only for the nostalgia factor. I remember the first time we listened to this tape in the car: we put it on and, as the first notes of “Papercut” hit we were all scratching our heads wondering why everything sounded a bit lower in pitch. Haha, oh Walkmans, how I love thee. (If you don’t get what I’m talking about, then sucks to be you.) When I stumbled upon this tape when I was back in Johor I of course had to get one for myself. All my friends were into these blokes too, back when I was in the middle of my secondary school experience. Nostalgia ftw.

And then there are these classics:

And this not-so-classic:

But you know what? St. Anger (the album and the track) was what got me interested in Metallica, and after I got my hands on St. Anger (and the huge poster that came with it) I immediately made it a priority to get whatever earlier albums of theirs I could get my hands on, in this case Master of Puppets and …And Justice. I fell out of love with St. Anger very quickly, that much I will admit, but I fell in love with the other two albums and, well, I guess you could say that the rest is history. St. Anger isn’t a particularly good album, but it is one of those albums that set me off onto better things. And, for that, I guess I owe it.

My dad dragged me and my cousins to the Jusco in Taman Universiti (Skudai) to get something for my brother, to sort of celebrate the fact that he’d finally gotten circumcised/mutilated (pick yr flavour), and I, of course, just had to check out the Music Valley in there (yeah, back then that was where I got most of my music) and see what they had, when, lo and behold, I see that. I had heard of Napalm Death before (I did a lot of reading up on music back in my younger years, and Napalm Death were namedropped quite a lot in extreme music circles), and I had dabbled in a bit of grind (Japanische Kampfhörspiele come to mind) but this was really the tape that kicked my ass into the “extreme metal” camp. I could barely contain my excitement as I held it in my hands and paid for it, and first thing I did when I got back home was to put this into the Walkman, hook it up to my brother’s speakers and rock the fuck out. I haven’t looked back since I got this one.

But ND’s Order of the Leech wasn’t my first experience in buying more “extreme” forms of metal, though. Before that, there were these:

I bought that Koffin Kanser album partly due to them being featured in The Star. I was into digital hardcore and breakcore back then, and the article piqued my interest by mentioning that they had a digital hardcore vibe on this one track where they collaborated with Spacebar, so when I saw the album in the aforementioned Music Valley outlet in the aforementioned Jusco I went ahead and bought it. One of my cousins bought Slipknot’s Iowa at the same time, and while that album surprised the both of us by how extreme it was (at the time, that is, not having been exposed to much extremity), the Koffin Kanser album was even more extreme and, well, our collective reaction says it all: “fuck, album ni gila sial.”

As for the Bolt Thrower album, I bought it only because I had listened to a band cover a Bolt Thrower song and I thought it was pretty good. That, and because that particular band had called them “legends.” I knew next to nothing about death metal at the time, and I’m pretty sure that that particular BT album was indeed my first death metal album ever. I remember my dad getting annoyed when I put that album on in the car, probably due to the fact that it sounded like a wash of static in the car. The production on that album isn’t the greatest, I have to admit, especially not when you’re listening to it in a car on the highway.

I was browsing the tapes at Muzik Box in JB and, when I stumbled upon this, I asked the guy behind the counter “bang, best ke album ni?”, and he said, simply: “tu probably the best thrash metal album yang abang pernah dengar.” So I ask him to put it on, and when Frank Blackfire started playing that fucking fast verse riff from “Agent Orange” I knew that I had to make the album mine. And, as evidenced by this photo, I did.

There also was a time when I was really into Oi! (I’m sure, again, that most kids went through a phase like this) and no band, to me, at least, epitomized Oi! more than A.C.A.B. I’m not sure how I got into them or why I bought thatForever Skinheads compilation of theirs, but before you know it they had quickly become one of my favourite bands. I ended up buying a few more releases of theirs, and I ended up getting a lot of their songs (the classics like “Unfairground,” “Fight for Your Right,” “Where Have All the Bootboys Gone?” et al.) stuck in my head. Nearly permanently, it seems, judging by how I can still remember a lot of them.

In keeping with the sudden Malaysian theme, there was Sil Khannaz. I borrowed a their live album from a friend (who borrowed it from his older brother) and I really liked it, so, as with Metallica, I decided that I’d try and get my hands on their other albums. And I did, buying their albums at a frantic pace (I think I got all of these in one month) and rocking out to songs such as “Santapan Terakhir Raja Bersiong” and “Gerbang Kayangan” with major amounts of vigour. They were, alongside Bolt Thrower, my first experience in death metal, albeit of a far more melodic and thrashy bent than good old BT.

The first tape I ever got from someone overseas (in this case, Vloda K. of Venom8888 fame). It’s funny, really: I link to his website on a forum I’m active on and sometime later he emails me, saying something to the effect of “thanks for liking my shit” and asking me about the musical project that I had going at the time (Schadenfreude) and saying that he liked it. I was really stoked, since I was a big fan of his work as Venom8888 and we began exchanging many emails, talking about things like music and the sort. One day he tells me he’s sending me a tape with his (new at the time, I think) release Survive! and a collection of songs from previous releases, and a week or so later I get it in my mailbox. It was the first time I ever got anything in the mail from outside of the country, and what a way to “pop my cherry,” so to speak.

(To V>K: hey man, if you end up reading this, do email me, yeah? I’ve lost your email, but I would really like to hear from you again.)

If I looked and thought hard enough I’d probably find some reasons to consider some more tapes of mine “notable,” but I think I’ve covered the main ones in this post, jumbled narratives and all. Besides, I’ve already written too much as it is, so I will, for now at least, stop with the reminiscing and stop boring all you people who end up reading this. I apologize for any sort of confusion and/or boredom stemming from my mainly random nostalgia-fueled ramblings about the tapes/bands.

Needless to say it’s been a bit of a trip just looking at the tapes again, being reminded of how much the music meant to me, how they provided the soundtrack to many events in my life (either directly or via association) and how they remind me of life back then: a nifty school, wonderful friends and an awesome neighbourhood. What else does a kid need?

While we’re on the topic of tapes, I popped in the Sarjan Hassan / Conquest for Death split tape last night after I had done my share of reminiscing and listened to it, and the lyrics of this one particular Conquest for Death song really grabbed me, even if I only managed to make out a short snippet. I opened up the lyric sheet that came with the tape earlier today and, well:

Conquest for Death – The Pure Joy of Being Alive
It is with the sincerest regret
That I inform you of
A series of wonderful
But unfortunate events
Half truths and full lies
A choked laugh, a robust cry
A unfettered zest for life
Within a vespiary of vice
Optimistically pessimistic
Positively negative
I love life, but hate society
The world is full and I’m half empty
All that repels me attracts me
All that disgusts me fascinates me
Everything seems so rich
When I’m living cheap
One just need look at the headlines
And then go outside
To comprehend the utter disgust of being human
And the pure joy of being alive

Truth, ladies and gentlemen. Truth.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rock out to some A.C.A.B. now. Ah, the memories . . .

  1. Sep 13, 2008 at 12:22

    link me balik dear azzief. :)

  2. Sep 13, 2008 at 13:09

    done. =]

    i hadn’t linked you back because yr blog was private, but apparently now it’s no longer so.

  3. xchematx
    Sep 14, 2008 at 15:38

    old skool punya kaset. skrg mana ada org nk gunakan tape.semua mp3 saja.

  4. Sep 14, 2008 at 15:43

    old skool la best. hehe.

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