The Sinister Left

Live review from 20th Anniversary Festival Day 2 星期六

In Slow Motion
Heartworm In My Head**
Lap Of Mystery
Juan The Vampire
Coldest Man In Summer

It’s testament to Chris B’s powers of persuasion and the pull of The Underground that The SInister Left were pulled out of their unofficial six-year hiatus for an eagerly anticipated performance. Having been around since the mid-00s, they’ve played The Underground more times than any other band, which is a respectable feat. Singer Nathan and bassist Stu recruited drummer Phil and managed to deliver a tight set off the back of very few rehearsals, drawing from their superb 2016 album Soot.

A sped up version of In Slow Motion launched an atmospheric and characteristically gloomy set, enhanced by vocal echo, distorted guitar and an ominous rhythmic undercurrent. Phil and Stu together emitted a dark thrum which didn’t let up throughout, while Nathan’s unique vocal tone brought songs a grandiosity befitting the post-punk genre.

In fact, certain songs were delivered better than on record: Heartworm in My Head sounded more built-out and evil, like driving through an icy wasteland with sandworm-sized bass undulation, thunderous toms, and Morrissey-esque anguished yelps. Juan the Vampire was very Joy Division in its desolate, echo-laden vocals; its titular villain conjured to life with menace. However, Lap of Mystery felt like a misfire: overly distorted, foggy, muted and lacking in punch and drive.

The proggy, peculiar Coldest Man in Summer started with spine-tinglingly, setting the scene with jagged guitar, but the guitar became lost in a bad mix as the track built, overpowered by the cymbals and lurching bassline. The band segued straight into the darkly motorik Metamorph, the ideal way to sign off a welcome return set – and the start of a new chapter for the group.
– El Jay

Live review from Underground 107:


1. Heartworm in My Head
2. Her Drive
3. MSG
4. The Vulture That She Is
5. Lap of Mystery
6. The Coldest Man in Summer

Now, the one thing that stood out before these guys started playing was that they were the only band to have played the Underground 10 times, and they’ve been with us from very early on in the process. However, once they start playing, it tends to drive out all other thoughts from the mind, since they are a band that commands the attention of one’s mind (or mine, at any rate). Making clever and judicious use of reverb on the vocals, a variety of guitar effects, imperturbably fluid bass, theremin-like accents from the keyboards, and a drummer who’s probably the most enthusiastic I’ve seen (Okay, actually second-most enthusiastic. The first is definitely good ol’ Freddie Gunn from Shotgun Politics and Kestrels & Kites), and uses the toms to good effect (also unusual). These components fit in together perfectly, to form an alternately soothing and discomfiting, abrasive scenery, with snaking melodies, and a fuzzy, slightly psychedelic intensity that may well leave you seeing stars. They’re almost like a mix of the Butthole Surfers, Arcade Fire and the Fuzztones, in a Butch Vig, Neo-Zeppelin kind of way (Lap of Mystery in particular). Perhaps what’s best about them is just how realised their sound is, because it’s definitely identifiable. A valid criticism of this would be to say that their songs are a bit samey, and it would be were that true, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. They have a definite menace to their sound occasionally, that’s great for the kind of atmosphere they tend to create, and it’s often mixed with slightly Arabesque turns of tune, as in Heartworm… while Her Drive sounded a bit like early Smashing Pumpkins, with its driving, winding rhythm and the sharp attacks of guitar. The Vulture… had shades of Paul Leary-like guitars, with the rare clean tone making an appearance, and some really frantic fills by the drummer, and this general treatment they give to their songs was brought into relief by the almost-jazzy interlude in the middle of The Coldest Man… They certainly showed why they’ve been around for as long as they have, and hopefully they’ll be around for a lot longer. They don’t play too often, though, so you should catch a gig when you can.

— Shashwati Kala


Live Review from Underground 86:

The Sinister Left are very effective and without assertion. I was familiar with their music thanks to cd released by the Underground a while ago, but I had not seen them live yet. Each one of their song reflects an in-depth musical knowledge, and is more surprising than the preceding one. The synergy of the group functions with wonder and each one of the four members of the band, through its own personality and musical references, contributes in creating a homogeneous and energetic set. Whether you like rock, punk, alternative, goth or else, you can be sure The Sinister Left will not disappoint you. Electrifying riffs, heavy bass and sustained rhythms, it is for everyone to enjoy.
Carolyne B.

DSC_5310 copy.jpgLive Review from Underground 79:

The Sinister Left seem to be doing something right. After finishing my notes from the last band, I look up to find the room suddenly more crowded than I remember. The band of four (Nathan, Alejandro, Stu and Chi) have an EP out called “Red Eye Effect” and as it so happens, it landed in my mailbox last week for reviewing. So be sure to check back for that. Please? The only band on the night of which I have had prior listening time. I had heard their two tracks that appeared on the Underground #1 compilation CD. I was impressed then so found myself eager to hear their set for the night. 3 out of 4 are dressed in black, not sure if this was deliberate or guys in ambient bands just happen to love wearing black. Don’t worry no fab 5 comments this time. If I had to sum up the sound of TSL in one word…it would have to be “warm.” It’s poetically sad yet ironically motivating. The music plays out like a mini opus moving through various phases of reverb and beats. Despite being in awe of every note I heard, I didn’t find myself at all excited about how it was being offered. I understand that the complexity in music may mean having to sacrifice high energy performances, but at times it was none existent. Luckily for The Sinister Left, their live sound is THAT special that they make my “bands you must see” list. My hat goes off to the drummer who had great control of the dynamics. Like a conductor the bands volume level would sweep up and down to the bang of the drums. Also he has a wicked name. Chi.

Tim – Hong Kong Independent Music Blog




Live Review from Underground 70:

The Sinister Left is a middle-age band. I actually don’t know their respective ages, may be they just look middle-age but are fresh out of their teens, but they have the middle-age sounding songs (80s post punk), middle-age hairline, and middle age stance on stage. Singer Nathan Inciong once explained to me he just preferred not to play in a dance band no more. They have two songs already published on the Underground Compilation CD: “Caped Carnival” and “The Faux King”, both of which did not preview the tight, strong and emotional delivery that is live. “Caped Carnival”, in particular, would potentially (depend on the kind of person you are) take you emotionally up and down and end with a burst. “Timeless” is almost the climax of each show, when Nathan’s melody flows inside the ethereal guitar layers provided by himself and lead guitarist Al Dini. The Sinister Left is clearly alternative all the way. As I said, hear the middle-age messages from these serious rockers. Come to think of it, they should smile a bit more.
Bun Ng





Letter from The Sinister Left about the CD Launch Party A:
“It has always been a privilege to play for The Underground events, and to
be chosen with promising HK indie bands for a compilation cd gives us such
a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

Our hats off to : the WHOLE Underground team -( Chris B, the masked men
and women doing the dirty work,the photographers, Vivek for putting up a fresh
outlook of the website), Koya “The Bandana Kid” Hisazaku, Mark 1 Studios, Bun Ng for
building another bridge for the Hong Kong indie scene, Hamish McKenzie, Timeout,
all those who gave us (good or bad) reviews, Mr. Safety Bunny!
The sponsors: ( Asahi, BC Magazine,
Cathay Pacific, JIA )
To the strangers we’ve met who gave us compliments!
And to
all those who’ve been committed to it’s cause- our ever supportive friends and families!!”


Live review from Underground 64:

  • 1. Canned Laughter
  • 2. Drive
  • 3. MSG
  • 4. Caped Carnival
  • 5. Timeless
  • 6. The Faux King

The Sinister Left is a skillful band that pays great attention to crafting coherent flows of feelings in their music. The richness of their instrumentation and the subtle yet complex song structures are the main components that moves the audience, leading them from one scenery to another. It is a bit hard to define their style, but this is exactly what makes them different. My closest description would be US indie rock blended with traces of 80’s post punk. Think of Minus the Bear having their signature experimental guitar-tapping replaced partially with The Cure’s sharp bass picking sound.

Timeless is the most remarkable song that explains everything. Each part of it is carefully placed together in the way that a swaying feel unfolds gradually before the fast syncopated part kicks in, bursts out, and cools down again for another resolution.


Live Review from Underground 58:

    1 The Vulture That She Is
    2 Lord Byron
    3 M.S.G.
    4 Timeless
    5 The Faux King
    6 Cast Away

The Sinister Left completely possessed Club Cixi�s stage like the dark evil matter that oozes purposefully out of the walls and floorboards in the devil�s own house to ensnare its latest terrified and screaming victim. Mouhahahaha! (*sound of devil laughing*)
A seriously powerful sound, helped along by a loud bass drum, altogether producing as ominous a sound as their scary name suggests. These guys are not mucking about and are tight and wicked from beginning to end. Guitarist Al cited the band�s influences as Mog Wai, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and 80s UK post-punk band, The Chameleons.
This band manages to fit all the pieces of the great indie music puzzle together. They have a diverse repertoire with an extremely versatile, artful lead singer who can create any mood or feeling just by opening his trap, squeezing the back of his throat into various shapes and pushing some air out. The bass and drums form a solid, heavy combo creating as deep and emotionally charged a mood as Colonel Walter Kurtz� (Marlon Brando) death scene in Apocalypse Now. Their set demonstrated some very accomplished lead guitar work and effects, at times producing quite crystalline sounds to offset the heavy rhythms. Towards the end of their set, the bass guitar gave up some quite complex melodies, proving it was capable of some tenderness.
Great songwriting, truly excellent and original musicianship with one of the best vocalists in Hong Kong right now. They have a strong following and deservedly so.
Isobel S. Saunders


Live Review from Underground 48:
This band KNOWS how to create a wall of sound and truly deserved the headlining spot at Underground 48. They describe themselves as “dark, hypnotic and experimental” and I think they should underline “hypnotic”. Nathan’s vocals are passionate and pleading. Chi the drummer holds the band together beautifully, carving spaces for the rest of the band to fill up with melodic tones and moody bass lines. Dreamy moments meant that the about half the audience were listening with their eyes shut. We all shouted for an encore and luckily they obliged. I’ve been enlightened and will catch this band whenever possible.
Bunny C


Live Review from Underground 40:
My first time to an Underground show and I was blown away by this band. Half rock and half something else, the four talented musicians captivated me (and I’m not gay!) with commanding vocals and solid music. Not in-your-face rock music, although the lyrics were, the music was alternative with strong beats. Obviously appealing to the females of HK as the audience was 75% attractive females. Thank you The Sinister Left.
Ben Gracey


Live Review from Underground 32:
Their music is of quite a different sort, you’re either on their train or you’re not. It needs some attention to really get into their groove of guided noise, but you will be rewarded with a rich, enveloping trance-like experience if you really step into the sound. Even the drums will capture your awe with their complexity and depth, continuously leading you around and surprising you, all the while deeply hypnotizing you. Their unusual musical style may not have mass appeal, but they are extremely skilled at what they do – a sinister form of hard rock.
Wally Amos

Underground – [‘undəgraund]
1. a secret group organized to change the stereotypical music scene in HK.
2. where raw talent breeds and evolves into genuine musical _expression.
“Swim away from the mainstream! Start digging, and go Underground

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