i’m empty and aching and i don’t know why.
was it because sufjan? he began in michigan, but left us alone and for four years we coped in his absence. and then out of the blue, I look up, startled, to find him with me; counting the cars at the new jersey turnpike.
friends drift in and out of one another’s lives. they meet serendipitously along the way, travel together for a spell, and then keep moving. it shouldn’t surprise you. keep telling yourself that.
“america” captures that constant flux and displacement, the profound insights that come unexpectedly, and our attempts at finding faithful travelling companions. and yes, people do come and go. but who knows, your paths may cross again, someday. - b.
they’ve all gone
to look for America
mp3: simon & garfunkel – america
“honey”, the opening track of matthew dear’s latest release black city starts off on the same footing as “walk on the wild side”, with that familiar brooding note, suspended midway whilst conducting an introspective survey of the dirty streets that becomes the setting and topic of interest for the rest of the album. yet, this is less of a concept album than it is a descriptive one, relying largely on dear’s sonic mastery of mood and atmosphere as its distinctive entry point. in “honey”, you’re drawn into the story not by the narrative itself, but the intricate detail – the dreariness of city life and the dark corners of its underside – that fills the track’s ever-accommodating cinematic space. it matters less, then, that this black city lacks the memorable characters that so colored lou reed’s deviant universe, especially when it works so finely on its own as a gripping soundtrack to the filthier sides of our existence. - dan.
mp3: matthew dear – honey
black city is out now on ghostly international.
migrant voices is a community arts charity that organizes art-based projects activities to engage with migrant workers in singapore. previously, they were involved in producing an album of music written and performed by migrant workers, and has to date started a couple of worthy initiatives, such as collecting, documenting and presenting their oral histories.
this saturday, a gig titled migrant sounds will be held to raise awareness for migrant voices and the work they have been doing. among the acts i’m really keen catch are great empty, who we’ve featured previously on map, and mux, which is a very exciting audio-visual project by some of our friends from b-quartet. folk singer/songwriter cotton island will also be performing that night, as will seyra, who you can listen to in the sample below – a collaboration with great empty.
the organizers promise it’ll be an interactive experience, so if you’re free this saturday night 21 august, do pop by and join in the fun at going om at 63 haji lane from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and give your support to this worthy cause! - dan.
mp3: great empty – our sense of the beautiful (with seyra)
click here to find out more about the gig, and here for more on migrant voices.
the reason i like gonjasufi‘s warp records debut so much has a lot to do with how the album title so cryptically yet precisely describes how the whole thing sounds. equal parts esoteric and worldly, a sufi and a killer blends itself into a gorgeous expanse of free floating ideas and sounds, never content to stay at any point, as if that point could even be pinned down. and while the themes seem overtly spiritual at times, there’s always a distinctly rough edge to the sound that’s almost certainly referencing something, someone of this world. perhaps, then, the most enjoyable part of this journey isn’t so much what you get out of listening to the album, but the pursuit of what you never quite seem to get fully. it sounds so familiar, but where have i heard this from? yet, it also sounds foreign enough to throw me off, long enough before the next thing comes my way. i know i wouldn’t have it any other way. - dan.
mp3: gonjasufi – sheep
a sufi and a killer is available on warp records.
this august, singapore celebrated its 45th national day, and is now playing host to the inaugural youth olympic games. however, don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s all we’ve been up to. over the past two weeks, we witnessed two great performances from broken social scene and belle & sebastian. and next weekend from the 20th to 22nd, our very own annual indie rock festival baybeats will get underway at the esplanade. one of the exciting new local bands to be showcased there will be basement in my loft, which our MAP anchorman brian koh tells us more about this month. enjoy!
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Basement In My Loft – I Think I’ll Run
Basement In My Loft have an underground, garage-rock sound with lofty melodies. As a power trio, they deftly walk the line between bittersweet melodies and utter chaos, while delivering an urgency in their music, convinced that one day, all this shall pass. They’ve got big things planned ahead, dropping their debut album at this year’s Baybeats music festival, one of Southeast Asia’s most prestigious indie festivals. Even with the accolades, BIML’s belief in their music and style keeps their integrity intact, with the band taking no shortcuts to making music that matters. - brian.
Mark Kozelek’s ruminating music has a way of seeping into our unexciting lives every now and then, and I am just about content to spend most of my days plugged in to the unspoiled beauty of Red House Painters records, while watching the outside world drift by with the artful rhythms of a Jorge Luis Borges story. Admiral Fell Promises, Kozelek’s latest and fourth album under the auspices of his ongoing Sun Kil Moon project is a sparse acoustic affair characterized by his growing interest in classical guitar playing. The serenity and attentiveness to instrumental details on these ten new songs are enveloped in Kozelek’s tender touch, and Admiral Fell Promises offers a striking contrast to the heavy aura of loss and mourning that weighs on his previous outing April (2008). The new album’s title track captures very well the hauntingly poetic effect that the best of Kozelek’s songs always have – a flicker of warmth, a fleeting truthful moment where the singer sounds unburdened and basking in the radiance of new mornings that gently wash away the detritus of long-held dreams. - keith.
mp3: sun kil moon – admiral fell promises
Admiral Fell Promises is available on Caldo Verde Records.
i’ve never quite made sense of new zealand noise rock band the dead c, although there’s always been something special about their dense, lo-fi ethic that keeps me listening, even if mostly in cycles of puzzlement and struggle. yet, perhaps most of the music we’re used to today has made things too easy, too digestible, and way too pleasant that we end up missing the process of actually listening for ourselves. what the dead c brings to all of this is a much needed discomfort and dissonance, a breach in the limits of musical acceptability.
gate, the sometimes-collaborative project of dead c frontman michael morley, sounds much easier on the ears, owing to morley’s surprising dedication to electronic ambience and rhythm. however, you’d still have to work hard in listening to republic of sadness, which features morley’s vocals – sometimes mournful, often frighteningly droning – as a constant foil to the inviting, primitive beats. patience, though, can be rewarding, as in “wilderness” which starts off simply enough as a potential screamadelica candidate before morphing spectacularly into both an awakening monster and the soundtrack to its sporadic, pent up existence. - dan.
mp3: gate – wilderness
republic of sadness, gate’s first album in a decade, is out now on our favorite ba da bing! records.