The Observatory+Andy Yang=Anitya 1

Borrowing from the Buddhist mandala ritual, Singapore art-rock band The Observatory presents Anitya, a performance series exploring the relationship between music and a non-musical art form.

In the first instalment, The Observatory and Artist-Illustrator Andy Yang enact this ritual with sound and painting. From start to end, the musicians and the artist search for inter-connectedness and synchronicity. There is no script, no rehearsal, and no grand design. Everything is created instantaneously and destroyed as soon as the point of completion is reached.

Observe how music and art interact. The work of Yang is dynamic and subtle, produced in a manner that places emphasis on the physical act of painting as it connects intuitively with sound. Anitya is about the process, a reflection of the temporal nature of life and art. Experience this mutability in the sounds of The Observatory, arising from a wordless dialogue with the collaborating Artist.

24 January, 7:30pm and  25 January, 1pm at the Earl Lu Gallery, LASALLE College of The Arts, 1 McNally Street. Admission is free.

Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme

To help aspiring local musicians be heard amidst the clutter of the massively crowded YouTube, Noise Singapore and Timbre are launching a platform to provide young, talented singer-songwriters in Singapore with the first step to becoming the next big thing. The Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme aims to uncover unknown gems on YouTube and have them trained by top musicians in Singapore before giving them the chance to perform live at Timbre @ The Substation.

From 14 December to 16 January 2011, local youths aged 18-35 can take part as an individual or duo by recording videos of themselves performing one original song and one song of their choice, and uploading them onto YouTube. Participants then have to visit the noise website to become a member and submit their YouTube video links to take part in this competition.

The first winner will be picked by Noise Singapore and Timbre in February 2011, while ten other finalists will be unveiled at the same time for public voting on Noise and the Timbre Music Academy Facebook page. Based on the number of “likes” for the videos and ratings by judges from Noise and Timbre, one winner will be chosen each month from March to July 2011.

Winners will undergo a fully sponsored four-week workshop series helmed by Mang Irama Dusique from Goodfellas/Zero Sequence and music veteran Kevin Mathews to hone their songwriting skills, performance technique and musicianship before taking to the stage for a 20-minute set at Timbre @ The Substation.

I Am David Sparkle: Swords Are Drawn

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Presently consisting of Amran Khamis, Djohan Johari, Farizwan Fajari and Zahir Sanosi, I am David Sparkle is one of the pioneers of the instrumental post-rock scene in Singapore. Since its inception in 2001, the band has garnered a strong underground following in Singapore and internationally with its music and emotionally charged live sets.

2010 sees the release of Swords, their second full-length album, and fifth release in total after The Apocalypse of Your Heart, This is the New, Nosferatu Makes Me Nervous and the Live in Houston bootleg EP. ‘Swords’ is a title that transpired from the band’s vision of incorporating a heavier regime and rhythmically complex elements into their sound than previous releases.  It is  a compilation of new and previously unrecorded material, making it a record that is more guitar driven, when compared to ‘This Is The New’ (2007) which was gently laced with ambience and electronic elements. The traits of the new album could also be attributed to the chemistry in the current lineup, after the departures of Yamani Ismail (bass) and Nick Chan (guitar/electronics) in 2007. While still maintaining their love of soaring melodies, ‘Swords’ takes the band to a more abrasive language -as heard on tracks “A Bad Corpse (Your Majesty)” and “Ghostfuck”- in conveying their ideas and thoughts. Maybe it’s their fascination for most things heavy and ostracized, or just as a token of discontent, nonetheless the new album marks another flag in the band’s passage.

The launch of the album will be celebrated at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 3 December, 9.30pm. Tickets are available from the Esplanade Box Office and Sistic.

TypeWriter’s Indian Head Massage

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Formed in 2001, power-pop indie rock quartet TypeWriter has journeyed through the past ten years with various line-up changes, and a vast catalogue that has been reworked with different contributions by its changing members. With its current line-up of Yee Chang Kang (vocals, guitar, harmonica and keyboards), Patrick Chng (guitar, vocals and keyboards), Desmond Goh (bass and vocals) and Redzuan Hussin (drums and percussion), TypeWriter finally finished this chapter with their new album  – Indian Head Massage.

“We wanted to release an album around 2006/2007. Other than our day-job commitments, artistically, it just did not feel right to release the album then. We were still ‘searching’ for that last few songs. The final push came when we finished writing “Sunlight Takes Over” and “That Deepest Blue” – we felt really good about things and the chemistry was just right, to bring closure to the whole album,” explains Chang Kang, the band’s chief songwriter.

“There is a lot of soul searching, and tonality to the songs on the album, they are all as thought-out as they possibility could. Every song has its own beauty, production values and space. We have also brought in an eclectic mix of instruments (violins, trumpet, accordion, theremin and mandolin) and guest musicians (Ken Stringfellow of The Posies/Big Star and Natalie Soh of Serenaide) to bring out the different flavors in the songs. For instance, for
“Every Nite”, we managed to find Krassi Tasleva, a Bulgarian music teacher living here, to add her wonderful accordion playing to the song. The album is really a labor of love. We hope that this honesty will transcend to the listeners, and they can be genuinely moved by it,” says Chang Kang.

The album is accompanied with an additional disc – Extra Service, which consists of 8 band rarities.

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You can catch TypeWriter at 10:10 The Green Carpet Edition on 10 October at 3pm, and at Blu Jaz‘s Manic Monday on 11 October, 7.30 to 10.30 pm together with King Kong Jane and Cheating Sons.

Lunarin’s Sophomore Outing Duae

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Zero Point Red is a teaser from Lunarin‘s new album Duae, which is set to drop tomorrow. The new release continues the band’s fascination with gloomy art-rock while digging deeper into their musical roots of grunge and classical music. Incorporating sample and synthesizers into their sound, they retain their heaviness while sculpting a densely-layered soundscape.

This album is a diary of events, thoughts, ideas and varying forms of psychoses that took place since their debut album The Chrysalis in 2006. Through a trilogy of songs like ‘Midas’, ‘Red’ and the Alice-In-Chains-esque ‘Serpentine’, the rock trio creates a movement in three levels and gain an epiphany in the final one. Lead single ‘Zero Point Red’ was specifically written for local filmmaker Jason Lai’s Brother No. 2, a documentary about the Khmer Rouge, touching on themes of reconciliation and resignation.

Describing the album as “a diary, a journal, a journey”, it has certainly been so for Lunarin. Duae charts their growth as musicians given that they step into the realm of home recording and building their own studio. The album is produced by the band at their home studio and mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering, USA.

Wallflower

Inch Chua has a brand-new full-length in the can– it’s titled Wallflower, and it will be released today as a free download on her official site.

While Inch’s first solo outing The Bedroom combines her love of both acoustic singer-songwriters and kooky electronics, the latest offering continues her fascination with 8-bit electronic, folk flourishes and ukulele pop. With this release, Inch revisits her rock roots by infusing swing and jazz into the music as well.

Wallflower is almost like a diary of a young girl entering adulthood. Each song works like a journal entry for Inch as she puts her thoughts and feelings to music.

Here is one of the tracks. Give it a listen!

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Emanations of a New World

This is our heaven, a heaven we can see.
But we’ve turned our heaven into hell.
Who’s responsible?
We selfish human beings…
I don’t want to offend any party, but if we were to talk candidly, we can clearly see…
The poisons polluting our earth are very strong.
Viruses and illnesses, they’re getting stronger and more concentrated.
Why?
Because we are the devils.
Who is the devil? Are there really devils?
WE are all devils.
God?
WE are also gods.

Vivian Wang and Leslie Low -both of The Observatory- recount childhood memories of mythological fantasy theme park called Haw Par Villa. First called Tiger Balm Garden, the odd but colorful attraction contained a strange mix of characters and familiar tales from Chinese mythology and folklore, mixed in with earthy depictions of modern life and the Chinese concept of hell. The mutual love and dread of the park is told over eight recordings. Voice, guitar, percussion and other traditional instrumentation weave a cloth of surreal bliss, eeriness and horror.

The release will be out on 29 May from Utech Records. Until then, you can sample Four Rivers of Melancholy and Dread Mountain.

Let’s talk about Kevin Lester

This video has been making the rounds since April with great force and for good reason. I’m sure that many of you will already be familiar with Kevin Lester’s “Rockstar” video, a collaboration with freelance videographer Yadin Mohamed and vocal scratcher Eric Foenander.  For this side project -the online free for download album “Let’s talk about Kevin Lester”- the 25-year-old rapper, songwriter and producer collaborated with local videographers and animators to challenge himself and the scene.

Kevin started out in 2002 at “Platform 2”. It was at this open mic that he enjoyed positive reviews and numerous call backs. He continued to create a buzz and scored a featuring role in local sensation, TripleNoize’ s second album; Noisy Fm.

In 2005 he joined “Bonafide Vintage Flav’r” and had commercial as well as critical success with the release of the e.p. “The BVF Project” featuring the number 1 radio hit “Feels Good”.  The group has since disbanded but Kevin took this opportunity to fulfil a career long dream. He helped form SIXX, a hip hop band played with live instruments.

The  free for download album will be soon available from facebook and myspace. Until then, enjoy the Rockstar video and soak up the Kevin Lester vibe.

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