“There was something extra-political, extra-social, almost extra-human about it; it smacked of tidal waves, of natural forces . . . These emotions are my instruments.”— Richard Wright, The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference (1956)The Observatory is one of those last few bands that can change and become your life. Stuck in Singapore, the wilful outlier of Southeast Asia, this ever-shifting group stubbornly evolves past its roots, most recently in an more improvisational, instrumental, and noise-adjacent territories in an EP with collaborator Haino Keiji.In DEMON STATE, Dharma and Cheryl Ong plus Yuen Chee Wai continue The Observatory’s bold partnerships, this time with electronic musician Koichi Shimizu (IMPRINT). Together, they finally reach this long-gestating, total (yet I’m sure temporary), and rhythm-focused, electronic reinvention of The Obs—while briefly nodding to their past. The road is long; DEMON STATE is one pit stop in glorious hell.Partly stemming from a casual, improv studio session with Koichi in early 2020, the eight tracks on DEMON STATE—their first release on the Midnight Shift label—were formed from a gradual accumulation of sonic layers; they were foraged, recycled, and pieced together remotely also from solo bedroom recordings, a historical sample, nonhuman beats and effects, as well as journals and junk.A vinyl and digital release, DEMON STATE features the cover-art illustration of Enka Komariah (Senyawa, Raja Kirik). As they describe it, the “sense of wretchedness in this, the waste of capitalism, the evils of racial discrimination, the ever-spiralling mess, the awakenism of control” are confronted, head on in the band’s pattern, to disturb, comfort, confuse, worship, dance, rest, and resist.Ultimately, the singular form of DEMON STATE refers to our personal, individual, and ineffable states of demonic possession. DEMON STATE embraces us in the independent space of The Obs, where we can be alone together. It offers its listener some type of solace, if not an exorcism. For when the devil has been in us for this long, who’s to say who’s possessing who, who’s whispering sibilant sounds in our ears, who’s wearing the mask, who’s not yet dead and who’s still alive? Who’s still fighting for a just world?