Very few people have ventured into familiar vibes within Asian sounds. Yet, when they do, there is a phenomenal beauty, espousing from it. Music has its place in Asian nations and cultures; as with any other parts of the world. Simultaneously, what must also be considered is the ability to move through the familiar. As musicians, there is a level of strategy, and wellness concerning how people are able to utilize the very nature of that Soul vibe, and 1970’s vibe found in music. An energy, which comes to stir the Spirit, stirs it in a way we would not have ever imagined.
For this part, we turn to the nation of Malaysia. Its is apparent that elements of Soul music always have a way of moving throughout the world. We can say the same things about the world of Rock n’ Roll! Rock n’ Roll and Soul, that is! It seems that within different nations, there are that special group of people, who are filled with the love and passion for this peculiar music, from a peculiar people! Of course, that’s for another talk. Nevertheless, in the world of Malaysia, that sound did not escape one’s eyes. Furthermore, there was a way in which these particular musicians were able to incorporate the beauties of their culture and language into that sound. It was beautiful, intrinsic, while also venturing into another coloring for the genre, itself! For the nation of Malaysia, one such group was none other than. . .
They introduced a level of funkiness into the Malaysian world. A journey through one musical style of Black American culture and music. Connecting the tongue of their Mother language into it, there was a different coloring and style of Malaysia, which had never been explored, before. It was not only intricate, but filled with the notions of love and desire. A certain comfort and relaxation was being illuminated in Malaysian landscapes. This comfort is filled with a certain vibe of movement and desire for speaking the truth on love, life, and the need, to be!
It was in 1969 when Alleycats began. They rose to popularity in the latter part of the 1970’s. Members of the group were popular musicians, in the area of Penang. Furthermore, they acquired a contract at the Mocambo Club in 1976, within the central business sector on Hong Kong island. What initially started off as a 3-month contract, transformed into three contracts, throughout the year. With the rise of their popularity among the local community, the group left Hong Kong, in order to fulfill their contract in Singapore. It was then when they were discovered by prominent recording companies. Its amazing, isn’t? That sacred power of water has a level of intimacy in creating blessings, for those who respect it. Clearly, there is a magical and sacred connection, when it comes to the Alleycats’ travel, throughout these particular areas.
Beginning in 1978, this phenomenal group signed their contract with Polygram Records–Philips for the creation of their first album. It was Hong Kong, where the group traveled in order to produce the album, in Dragon Studio. All of it happened in the Lion Studio of Singapore, where the group became proficient in creating other albums. The album Terima Kasih, “Thank You,” contained their first single, entitled “Senandung Semalam” (Yesterday’s Serenade). From there, was birthed one of the most legendary groups in Malaysian her/history. In fact, it was the work of Alleycats, which it accredited contributed to the growth of the Malaysian music industry. A great portion of their fan base is in Malaysian, Indonesia, and Singapore. And of course, even during the current times, the band continues to play on; performing and keeping the legacy of Alleycats, alive! Now, that leads us to another special point for the sacredness of this group.
Let’s return to the original format of this group. Alleycats was founded by brothers Thiagarajan K.R. Arumugam (known as David Arumugam), and Loganathan Arumugam. Other original members of the group included the following: Tan Chin Hock (drums), Shunmugam Arumugam (lead guitar), Chester Anthony Passerella (saxophone), Khoo Fook Sin and Grenville Pereira (Gren) (keyboards), and Frank Ong (bass guitar). It was this original image of individuals, which took the nation of Malaysia to new heights. Kindly note, there is a beautiful essence in the presentation of the two brothers-those darker brothers,who made it very clear that in Malaysia, Blackness, too, could create phenomenal vibes. That in Blackness, there is beauty in this particular nation of the Asian world. And while members have died and passed on, the band of Alleycats moves forward into the next phase.
David Arumugam, the older brother of the two, carries on the band. Still active and thriving, their artistry continues to place Malaysia as an active contributor to the music scene; and especially, for the international eye. Along with David, the new members are doing their part in keeping that legacy, alive: Glenville Charles Salay (vocals), Priyadashini Loganathan (known as Dasha Loga on vocals), David John (drums), Nazaruddin Abdullah (lead guitar), Loh Kum Swee (referred to as Jimmy Loh), and Prawing Aroonratana (stage name Mike Prawning on keyboard).
The 2007 passing of Loganathan Arumugam was a great loss in the Malaysian music industry. On a greater level, that one half of the Blackened duo had transitioned from Earth’s landscapes. Leaving older brother David Arumugam to continue on this legendary, Malaysian band. Positioned from the outside, while trying to look in, one can only imagine what it must have been like for him to be absent from his other half. What was it like to have to move through that journey? Finding inspiration in what was, and how one would carry on without the other half. We can only imagine. After all Loganathan Arumugam and David Arumugam were more than fraternal brothers. They were also spiritual twins. Complementing each other musically, and in their initial bonding in the very making of this group. Heaven had ordained for this to be. Let’s never forget that the number, 2 is symbolic of balance-the artistry of complementing each other. What one lacks the other has, and vice versa.
Another precious element, relating to the dynamic duo of these two brothers, is their coloring. Yes! Some of you would wonder why this should even matter. Well, allow me to explain. Just as in Europe, the United States, and Canada, the issue of race and color is also prevalent in the Asian region. In fact, until recent years, it had been less discussed upon. Its apparent that issues of race and color were too often directed as solely a Western problem. Yet, color and racial divisions are deeply entrenched with Asian nations. Its why the presence of Loganathan Arumugam and David Arumugam are so important for Malaysian society. Here they are, two darker-skinned brothers, who put their heads together in crafting this legendary group in Malaysian her/history. Alleycats is a band performing the musical genres of Pop, Rock, Funk, Disco, and Contemporary. Not only do you have their performance within Black American musical forms, but also their very own, Afro-Malaysian presence, coupled with the Malaysian language. The indigenous Black presence of Malaysian landscapes is presented with a great beauty. Through the Arumugam brothers, Blackness was seen as beautiful, and as part of the wonders of Universal aesthetics. It was a great contrast to the negative auras, which have been directed towards this coloring. Furthermore, their very vigilance was a reminder to the greater of Malaysian society, and the world, that Afro-Melaysian communities-those of a darker hue-in fact, exist! Their presence was symbolic of that hidden aesthetics within this very nation.
Listening to the band, and their songs, you can sense that therapeutic richness continues to linger throughout the spacing. There is something about their voices, which made people feel as if everything was going to be alright. Life seemed to be easier, from the very moment they opened their mouths. Furthermore, there was a kind of beauty and enjoyment, where the two brothers completed each other, vocally. David Arumugam had the deeper tone of the two. If you were to delve closer into your own level of musicality, a person can feel as if one if going into a deeper level of exploration. Its as if one is slowly being drifted along, in order to observe the treasures from below. On the contrary, one also has the presence of the younger brother, Loganathan Arumugam. His voice is of a lighter, and slighter higher timber. It is softer with a smoother edge. Together, both of their voices, brings a complementary mastery. One navigates through depth’s riches, as the other highlights them through a quiet and serene light. Together they are the very complements of the darkness and the light. Working side-by-side in order to bring out the majestic beauty of music. There are also those precious moments of concerts, where Loganathan is singing, as David is playing the conga drums. One observes this Alleycats’ January 2008 live performance of the song, “Dalam Kenangan.” Even with this particular set design, an audience is able to view just how in sync they are with each other. One keeps the musical heartbeat, as the other sings its melody. Iconic-in every sense of the word. They are the foundation for the very band; the central core in keeping the musical notes moving in a circular direction. What do you do when you lose your complement? Its not as simple. Nevertheless, you carry on.
Another lasting feature of the group is the presence of those Malaysian band members, considered to reflect the majority of Malaysian people. Their presence within the band is captivating. For one, they present the image of being comforted by Blackness. It is not something to be feared. In fact, they join in the musical performance with Blackness; experiencing its beauty and wanting the nation of Malaysia to bare witness to such an image. Again, when you observe yourself being comforted by “forbidden imagery,” your mind begins to shift in what you were taught to believe. Soon, the questions begin. Soon, you finally ask yourself what is considered taboo. Is Blackness really so bad? When you see the “taboo” presented in a beautiful manner, is it really “evil” in the manner that it has been prescribed to us? Tick. Tock. The reflections perform right in, and melodically they sing on.
Finally, there is another important person, who must be acknowledged and honored, when speaking about this musical duo, colored in Blackness. That person is none other than the Mother of Loganathan Arumugam and David Arumugam–MEENAMBAL ARUMUGAM! Returning back to their initial source of inspiration, it has been notated that the Mother of this Malaysian, melodic 2 were was a “Carnatic classical singer.” In addition, she was also a radio announcer, and was known for bringing her two boys to her performances. So, you see, somewhere, Black femininity is responsible for the birth and cultivation of these two Malaysian legends! It was from her, where they received their passion for music. Mother’s love runs deep, does it not?
Let’s keep in mind that there are still, 2! When it comes to that dynamic, musical duo of Malaysian soil, keep in mind that transition does not operate in separation. While one brother operates in the Creator’s Spiritual realm, the other works on the Earthly one. As long as the music is played, these musical twins, will also be intertwined. While David Arumugam continues to create in the music in the living world, Heaven guides him in the hereafter. Music is a gift from the Creator. Musicians assist the Divine in Heaven’s ability to invite healing to Earth’s spacing. When a nation is blessed with musical twins of a kindred Spirit, the blessing is a greater gift! So, do not worry about the preservation of such a legacy! After all, the feistiest of cats, will always perform in NEIGHBORHOOD ALLEYS!