The first three minutes on Singaporean math-rock trio susurrus’s Ultra Orange EP are immensely satisfying. With golden guitar riffs cascading into each other, a spunky drum accompaniment, and of course, the chanted “Oy! Oy, Oy!”s, that signal great things yet to come, album opener “Super Shinada” is already chugging along with high spirits. Then, out of nowhere, it happens: the hoarse, hold-nothing-back-I’m-giving-it-my-all screaming from vocalist Ahmad. It jolts you awake, yanking you away from that golden state of mind and into the black-dimension of screamo. Almost unintelligibly, Ahmad’s words hit you like charged lightning bolts that electrify and shake you out of your reverie. This, ladies and gentleman, is susurrus.
Named after “a soft murmuring or rustling sound” (aka maybe the most ASMR-sounding word in existence), susurrus is flipping the math-rock formula by adding their own twist to the genre. Thanks to band members Syakir’s (drums), Clarence’s (guitar), and Ahmad’s (vocals and bass) experiences playing in the screamo underground scene, susurrus brings an emo flair to the usually bright and sunny math-rock. The result is Ultra Orange EP, a project that is somehow inspired by bands like tricot while also influenced by post-hardcore bands like Suis La Lune. susurrus and their explosive debut is sweet, sour, and (most-importantly) inventive.
Though casual fans of music might be turned off by the abrasive screamo singing style, susurrus manages to balance it out by layering it over dazzling guitar and drum melodies. That’s the beauty of what they’re working with. On “Ganzfeld,” the project’s most lyric-heavy song (and therefore most frenetic), Ahmad’s voice comes in like a speeding bullet, piercing the breaking instrumentals in the background. Syakir and Clarence react to this with chopped up melodies that mimic that rush of energy. As Ahmad sings about the breaking and subsequent coalescence of everything, listeners are similarly taken on that jouney with them. Here and throughout the rest of Ultra Orange, there’s a constant connection between the three bandmates that are reactionary, making them solid as a unit. On six-minute instrumental break “Joss,” there’s a palpable energy that will make you want to repeat the cyclical melodies again and again. Even when the song slows to a halt two minutes in, the band is quick to build the song back up just to crash once more. “Ultra Orange”, the titular track, is similarly dazzling. When Ahmad screams out the final line of the album, “Let’s celebrate this moment in life,” it’s a call for the listener to feel the same way.
Ultra Orange EP has succeeded in taking the best parts of math-rock–the bright interlocking melodies–and the intensity of screamo and turned it into a stunning genre of its own. With just four songs to their name, susurrus has outdone themselves. Ultra Orange EP is raw rock, emitting an energy that is tangible, and a spirit that is as vibrant as, well, ultra orange.
Li-Wei Chu is a recent graduate from UC Davis who majored in Cinema and Digital Media who also briefly studied film at Queen Mary, University of London. Li-Wei is obsessed with horror films (especially the ones that give him nightmares), films from East Asia, and really, any film that makes you stop and think.
He loves talking about film and indie music with others. He’s also a record collector and cross-stitches when he has free time. In the future, he hopes to be able to write about film and wants to find a job in the film industry that can support his record buying habits. Maybe one day he’ll also be able to play the guitar.