Mah­suri’s mar­tyr­dom with a game­lan twist

Loque and Na­jwa Mahi­addin pay tribute to the en­chant­ing game­lan with Chinta ,a mu­si­cal retelling of tragic Mah­suri, writes Den­nis Chua


I al­ways had Na­jwa in mind when I came up with this song. I’m a big fan of her ver­sa­tile, pow­er­ful and soul­ful sound, and her take on Seri Mers­ing was beau­ti­ful.


KHAIRIL Ridzwan Anuar or Loque and Na­jwa Mahi­addin or NJWA may be dif­fer­ent as day and night mu­si­cally, by their own ad­mis­sions. This is ev­i­dent by not only in their choice of out­fits — he prefers bright colours while she loves them dark, but also in choice of mu­sic genre, where he is into pop and rock while she is a soul and R&B fan.

But as they say, op­po­sites at­tract, and good mu­sic is the one thing that brings them to­gether.

Like­wise, the haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful sounds of the tra­di­tional game­lan and an un­usual mu­sic video with cre­ative pup­petry that “blows their minds”. Na­jwa said: “It’s part and par­cel of Loque’s new al­bum Lagu Perang. Our very first duet to­gether is Chinta and its mu­sic video pays ho­mage to a Malaysian le­gend which many of us are fa­mil­iar with.” Loque, who is re­leas­ing Chinta as the first sin­gle of the 20-track Lagu Perang, added: “The le­gend is none other than that of Langkawi’s iconic maiden Mah­suri. How­ever, we have re­named her Dang Merdu, as she has a beau­ti­ful singing voice.”


The story be­hind Chinta, ex­plained Loque, is that of the undying love be­tween Dang Merdu and her hus­band Wan Derus, who has been re­named Tok Kadok and de­picted as a skil­ful game­lan player.

“As in the Mah­suri le­gend, Tok Kadok’s brother the Orang Be­sar of the is­land district sends him on a mis­sion in the main­land. But in­stead of a mil­i­tary tour of duty at the KedahSiam bor­der, Tok Kadok’s mis­sion is a game­lan con­cert at the court of the Sul­tan of Kedah,” he said.

“Dur­ing Tok Kadok’s ab­sence, Dang Merdu gets a visit from her hus­band’s friend Dera­mang, and the Orang Be­sar’s jeal­ous wife lies to her hus­band that the duo are com­mit­ting adul­tery. As a re­sult Dang Merdu is ex­e­cuted by ‘sula’ and sheds white blood to show that she is in­no­cent.’

In­stead of end­ing the tragic tale with Mah­suri’s well-known seven gen­er­a­tion curse, Loque gives it a more hope­ful end­ing.

“Tok Kadok buries his wife, gath­ers some of her white blood from the ground, and mixes it with the new bronze game­lan that he forges in his kiln. As a re­sult, he en­hances his mu­si­cian­ship be­cause the voice of his wife lives on in his new xy­lo­phone.”

Na­jwa, who re­cently spent 10 days per­form­ing in four con­certs around Tokyo, Ja­pan, said she quickly said “yes” to the duet with Loque as she is a fan of tra­di­tional mu­sic.

“I sel­dom sing tra­di­tional mu­sic, even though I love it a lot. Seri Mers­ing, which I sang last year, was my first foray into this genre,” she said.

Loque, who wrote and com­posed the song, said it was a “work in progress” for 10 years, and he only com­pleted record­ing it last month.

“I al­ways had Na­jwa in mind when I came up with this song. I’m a big fan of her ver­sa­tile, pow­er­ful and soul­ful sound, and her take on Seri Mers­ing was beau­ti­ful.”

Loque sought the as­sis­tance of a friend, artist Yong Tze Yin to come up with the pup­pet play that is Chinta’s mu­sic video.

“She’s a fan­tas­tic cre­ative talent, a grad­u­ate from One Academy who ex­cels in creat­ing minia­ture clay and wood fig­urines for tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials,” he said.

Yong, 28, said she spent four months com­ing up with the pup­pets and she and Loque took 1,000 cam­era shots, over a three-week pe­riod last year to bring Dang Merdu’s story “alive”.

“We chose to make Dang Merdu’s story a stop-mo­tion one, just like those chil­dren’s pro­grammes of the 1970s and ‘80s, she said.

“I fondly re­call RTM’s iconic chil­dren’s playschool se­ries Cumi Dan Ciki from those days. There were sev­eral oth­ers which I don’t re­mem­ber,” said Loque, adding that the mu­sic video was his first col­lab­o­ra­tion with Na­jwa and Yong.

As for the game­lan sound, Loque re­vealed that it was pro­duced by the Royal Pa­hang Game­lan Orches­tra, with the sup­port of the Pa­hang Mu­se­ums Cor­po­ra­tion.

“In my al­bum Lagu Perang, there­are20 songs, 10 of which are fully or­ches­tral and per­formed by the game­lan orches­tra. The other 10 are sung by Na­jwa, Aizat Am­dan, Man­i­festo and my­self,” he said.

“As for mu­sic videos, I plan to have them ac­com­pany half of the songs. How­ever, I don’t think I’m go­ing to have an­other one in­volv­ing pup­pets.”


Loque said Lagu Perang is likely to be launched early next year, and the videos for its other songs will largely de­pict well­known folk tales and leg­ends from var­i­ous states.

“It’s time for the younger gen­er­a­tion to be ac­quainted with our time­less fa­bles and leg­ends. It’s best that we cher­ish our her­itage, and the best way to share it amongst youths is through good, ex­per­i­men­tal mu­sic.”

Na­jwa and Loque launched the mu­sic video of Chinta at Lubuk Bangku D Cabin Cafe, Jalan Ab­dul­lah, Bangsar Utama, Kuala Lumpur on Oct 31.

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