It is absolutely a cliché – but holds true in the music world – when we say music transcends all language barriers. So here’s another story of one that exemplifies this metaphor; one where Japan’s undeniably artful and futuristic funk guitar meets Malaysia’s Carnatic vocals, and instrumental virtuosos with the traditional elements of the tabla.
It is obvious from the very start what we believe that the Japan Foundation has achieved when it comes to matching talents to commemorate ASEAN-Japan relations. The members of Nadir exude a sweltering flair in their unique rendition of Zainal Abidin’s hit song Hijau. It is not only a rare song choice despite the worldly fame it has acquired over the decades, but also a song that champions peaceful endeavors—a significantly meaningful pick to start the evening.
Stephanie Tham and Phaik Sim Lor on the keyboards are unashamedly confident when it comes to churning substantial chords to buff and empower melodic dexterity. Equally impressive is their passionate contribution to stand out when accompanied by others.
“I came to Malaysia [back in 2021] to study music but my first year here was hard because I didn’t get to perform or go out much [due to the pandemic]. I have always wanted to travel the world to perform with many great musicians. And I am happy to finally do that here with Nadir and it felt like my dream has come true.”
— Erino Yumiki, singer-songwriter.
While Ashwin Gobinath keeps a firm rhythm cohesion on the drums, it was Adil Johan’s audacious and charismatic performance on the saxophone that propels a dulcet fluidity to this whole lot; ingeniously inseparable are each member to the harmonious style they have created together.
Santosh Logandran’s clever expressions as a Southeast Asian percussionist merging Indian ragas with rock and jazz expand Nadir’s very existence and lift the meaning of ‘cultural exchange’ to a whole new level.
Erino Yumiki is unorthodox in her stylistic approach to our modish world. Inspired by the classic group Beatles, she exudes the elegance of a dame even in her early days as a successful musician. Appearing alongside Nadir, her mastery of the guitar and voice is a testament to how tastefully can one work with others. She is an accomplished collaborator in many ways.
For the rest of the evening, we were humbled by Zaim Zaidee’s unpretentious charm on bass and Farique Nadzir’s sensual vocals and guitar. The mastery of their instruments – whenever rhythmically felicitous – modestly bewildered us with gracious solo cadenzas.
It is a rarity to see how concomitant Yumiki is with the members of Nadir. Yumiki’s J-pop dance groove is acutely in tandem with Nadir’s exceptionally versatile musicianship skills. Neither has Yumiki’s grooviness overwhelmed Nadir’s and one can only imagine they’ve perhaps performed a great deal more times together, which hasn’t been the case.
About The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur
The Japan Foundation is Japan’s only institution dedicated to carrying out comprehensive international cultural exchange programmes throughout the world. With the objective of deepening mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the world, the Japan Foundation creates global opportunities to foster friendship, trust, and mutual understanding through culture, language, and dialogue. The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) was established in October 1989 as the Malaysian branch of the Japan Foundation.
Nadir is a Progressive-Ethno-Fusion band based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Visit their official YouTube channel, here.
Erino Yumiki os a guitarist/singer-songwriter from Osaka, Japan. Visit her official YouTube channel, here.
Written by Monica Tong & Nina Golan