Primarily known for his soul-searing vocal work as the frontman of influential New York hardcore outfit Burn, Chaka Malik also released three fantastic albums as a member of '90s post-hardcore greats Orange 9mm. Burn is back in business after taking over a decade off, and are working on a new record for a 2016 release. But Malik is also spending a lot of his time nourishing Ghost Decibels, a solo project that finds the vocalist exploring a different side of his musical mind.
With Ghost Decibels, Malik uses beds of synth and sparse instrumental arrangements to deliver a kind of style that I have referred to as "noir-soul." No Echo recently featured Ghost Decibels' track "Rulers of the Nations," and we've teamed up with Malik again, this time to bring you the exclusive video premiere of "Heaven Sings," a song from the project's debut EP.
"Our paths crossed at the Black N' Blue Bowl in NYC last year for the very first time, although we wouldn't exchange our creative ideas until a friend of ours, Adam Malik, put us in touch sometime later," says Aga Hairesis, the European photographer who shot the meditative "Heaven Sings" video. "As Burn were playing in London, Chaka decided to make a video for Ghost Decibels, and asked whether I could help out with some footage. Whoever has met Chaka knows that he is one of those people that lives to create, and he definitely doesn't waste any time in doing so. I was both inspired and excited by the opportunity of us working together."
"Music is a powerful medium. One that can heal, excite, stir emotion, create perspective, build, and destroy," Malik, who directed "Heaven Sings," tells No Echo. "The song 'Heaven Sings' relates to the lostness I feel from time to time, the sense of urgency that meditating on the concept of impermanence brings, as well as the deep love that boils in all of us as we traverse back and forth between self love, self hate, and apathy."
"Aga's skill at capturing emotion in her hardcore and tattoo portraits is what drew me to ask her to shoot the performance bits of the video. The double-decker bus, cemetery footage, etc., was taken by me as [Burn guitarist] Gavin Van Vlack and I traversed London on a day off before our show at Tufnell Dome," says the Queens, NY native. Hairesis continues: "We took off after the show and drove through the calm streets of London, until we decided to stop at Regent's Park. That's where we shot most of our footage. That place is a real gem, especially on a rainy Sunday night. The gold reflections of the street lights blended with the water drops hitting the canal and complemented the overall autumnal feel of the song."
For those of you who love your hardcore trivia, the "Heaven Sings" video also has a bit more to offer you. Let me let Malik clue you in: "Orlando Arce, a fellow hardcore kid and Queens native, took my treatment and added some of his own ideas in the editing process. The wealth of talent and creativity that we have in the hardcore scene is incredible." Yep, that's the same Orlando Arce that played in Stillsuit, the '90s post-hardcore combo that also featured Dimi Douvas (Crown of Thornz) and current Burn and Glassjaw bassist, Manuel Carrero. Arce also edited Malik and No Echo contributor Freddy Alva's upcoming documentary on their influential 1989 hardcore compilation, New Breed. You can watch the trailer for the documentary on YouTube.
Head over to the official Ghost Decibels website for ordering info on the cassette EP and t-shirts, plus Soundcloud to hear more tunes. Click here for tickets to the debut Ghost Decibels live performance is happening on Feb. 18 at the Grand Victory in Brooklyn, NY.