Lewis Pragasm, master drummer, percussionist and leader of the popular South East Asian jazz-rock group Asiabeat, has been working for some time on a release to commemorate the 40 years since the group first hit the stage.
He has re-recorded some of the old favourites and he has included a couple of new songs not recorded by him before. The album titled AKAR, meaning "roots", will be available on the 9th September 2021 on all digital platforms. He has also a limited edition CD for hard core fans.
Here are his comments on the new recordings of the 10 songs -
Where To Run
This one is a groove-laced tune featuring saxophone, guitars and light vocals sharing the
melodic duties. The is also a RAP featured in the intro of the song, just for 8 bars..not too
much. It’s got a bit of the ‘Ol Skool’ type vibe, kinda 70s but leans more toward funk. The
title is kind of tongue-in-cheek hint at the current state of the Corvid 19 pandemic, got
nowhere to run so just be positive, deal with it, cherish life and try to have a good time.
Jeritan Batin Ku
A remake of an old song by the multi-faceted legendary Malaysian artist extraordinaire P.
Ramlee. It’s a very sad and touching love ballad that’s been given a 1950s type cool jazz
arrangement. This song has never been done this kind of 3/4 or 6/8 light swing-like
manner rendering a cool version version this old song. There are two interpretations of
this tune, one sung in Bahasa Malaysia and the other in Spanish with some slight
variations in the music arrangement.
The Malay version is sung by Malaysian vocalist Matilda Radge whereas the Spanish
version is sung by Cuban vocalist Maivys Sahily. The Spanish lyrics are written by Maivys.
This song was initially recorded and released in the Asiabeat debut released in 1982. This
was actually the first tune on the album and epitomises the bygone era of ‘Jazz Rock’
music (pioneered by the critically acclaimed American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis) but has
a lot of Indian music influences. The remake gives the tune a whole other different
perspective - ‘Big Band’ funk - which is heavily ‘horn’ driven (trumpets, saxes, trombones
etc). A really swinging and exciting arrangement of this piece. It’s interesting to hear
Indian scales/lines delivered in this manner and somehow it works.
Originally written as an instrumental piece, vocals were added when Cuban singer
Maiviys Sahily started humming along to this Latin tinged tune. I wanted to try and see
what it would sound like as a vocal tune and asked her put lyrics in Spanish…It worked.
Percussionist Steve Thornton shares the percussive duties with me on this one.
Dare To Dream
This song was the title track of the second Asiabeat album released in 1984. It’s kinda of
a motivational song encouraging people to believe and pursue their dreams. The original
version featured male vocals and was given a more ethno-fusion type treatment. I wanted
to try a female version to give it a new perspective..in a contemporary vein.The song has
been given a complete transformation so to speak in terms of arrangement and vocal
stylising. This rendition by Filipino vocalist Ize takes it to whole new level with her
approach and delivery putting her own spin on the melody.
The inspiration for the title track was derived from the traditional Malay music of Malaysia
and Indonesia (especially West Malaysia and Sumatra). It’s an interesting mix of Malay
folk music and the communal rap like chanting and rhythmic music style of the Dikir Barat
that can only be found in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. I had the great opportunity to
work and engage with one of the foremost icons of traditional Malay music, Hamzah
Dolmat, in the early stage of my music career. For me this violinist epitomised what
instrumental Malay folk music was all about and the indelible affect he had on the cultural
music of the Malays. After all akar means roots in the Malay language..so its apt as the
concept and music style of Asiabeat has always been influenced and based on the
cultural traditions of Asia.
Man, Land, Struggle (MLS)
An epic of a musical piece that takes the listener on an adventure full of twists and turns.
The concept of this song is basically themed around humans and nature..both having to
endear and manage the unending trials and tribulations of life. Kind of a struggle between
good and bad..so to speak. Musically, its a dynamic and explosive piece of work that is
technically challenging from a performers perspective. This rack features Indian bassist
Burung Dalam Sangkar
Literally translated ‘bird in a cage’ is an old Malay song about a guy imprisoned lamenting
his woes. The original is a dreamy ballad but Indonesian vocalist Tompi sent me a video
of guy in some village jamming on some pipes and things singing this song in an upbeat
tempo. It was actually a mix of two songs. It sounded real cool albeit being real raw so I
thought about doing something with it. The arrangement was worked around Tompi’s
This tune actually started off as a cover version of a classic standard song but I initially
shelved it as I didn’t want to have too many remakes of other peoples songs in the album.
However, upon revisiting the tune, I liked arrangement as it was interesting so decided to
rework it into sometime new. One of the criteria for the song was not have a typical solo
section but one that was composed and arranged. I wanted to get away from the format
of having a solo sections in some songs..quite a few of the tunes in the album are given
Links - https://orcd.co/boyl5nd