Shadow Puppet Theatre: “Nightvision” – both raw and refined at the same time

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Shadow Puppet Theatre (SPT) is a rock band from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, established since April 2016. The Band members consist of a group of friends with different musical backgrounds but a common love for rock music. Any hype on behalf of this band is warranted as their EP “Nightvision”, is a thoroughly recommended debut which contains excellent songwriting, strangely charming vocals and very good musicianship which will have you rocking, tapping your toes and singing along.

As if to hammer the point home, the opening track, ‘Insomnified’, is an absolutely cracking opener. Immediately hooky, the first minute showcases impressive instrumentation as well as effective vocals. Structurally, the song is better for its soaring chorus and brief soloing bridge.

Yet things get even better when another EP highlight ‘Wise Man’ rollicks along next. An mid-tempo cut that includes great bass-playing, passionate drumming and effective guitar-work, this track sees the band at their grungy best as dirty hooks frequent the song.

Musically, the rhythm section of the band is astonishingly good. Drummer Chris has had formal training and bassist Chip was the last man to jump onboard. The bass drives many of the tracks efficiently and is mixed perfectly, while it is clear to see Chris puts in his all behind the kit. Elsewhere, Dzul and Yazzer’s guitar-work combine well as a team, to lift the whole unit to a totally outstanding level. Out front, Dzul is one of those vocalists that simply creates magic with his all-embracing range. The track ‘Pink Panther’ at the mid-point of the EP is the perfect example of this.

Despite the seeming adherence to a tried and tested method, what really stands out here is the maturity and willingness to experiment musically. “Mystery Girl” is a laid-back psychedelic wig-out, while “Bonita” is an angular and ominous reggae-styled ballad that ends proceedings nicely.

This is perhaps proof that there are no egos allowed on board Shadow Puppet Theatre and shows a positive attitude; if there is something that can be reworked or made better, then don’t hold back. Commendations should be paid towards the group as musicians too. There is a sweet strand of diversity, subtle or otherwise, permeating the record and points towards the coming together of comfort and talent.

Something’s been missing lately from rock n’ roll music lately – namely smart, quality music made with guitars, drums, bass and vocals. Everything is pop and robot voices these days, which is fine but bands that play rock music are increasingly rare. I’m glad to report, that “Nightvision” is a solid rock n’ roll recording, front to back. It’s both raw and refined at the same time somehow without being overproduced.

The catchy radio songs that first get your attention slowly unfold to showcase more complex progressions and lyrical depth. The recording engineer and producer also need to be hugged endlessly for providing these sounds. So just pop it in and let it play. While listening to Shadow Puppet Theatre, you’ll likely realize that this is a band that is fine-tuning its skill set and using all of the tricks they’ve learned so far to create some wonderful music.

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