I was watching the movie adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, where the story can be sort of summarised as “love for an 8-bit generation”. Set in Toronto, Canada, Sex Bob-omb (Stephen ‘The Talent’ Stills, Scott Pilgrim, Kim Pine) are an indie band, and our hero, Scott Pilgrim plays bass guitar for them. I don’t really know what else to say, but like, the comics are cool, the movie is cool, and the songs are cool. Like, this song totally just piqued my ears up like a raccoon, and I was listening to the lyrics, like.. “I’m a garbage truck. Truck, truck, truck!” and the song arrangement is pretty simple, and it just got me remembering of when I started my first band, our first song, and I realised that songs like this, are incredibly special, and some parts of us never really grow up. Figuratively speaking.
Oh, the Sex Bob-omb songs for the movie were written by Beck, and performed by the actors themselves. (Michael Cera, Amanda Pill, Mark Webber) - brian.
mp3: sex bob-omb – garbage truck
I gotta plead complete amnesia about the first time I encountered the music of Talk Talk, specifically their atmospheric pop masterpiece Laughing Stock (1991). Now and then, one of the album’s six songs of aching end-times poignancy would resurface inside my head, ruffling through looted memories and then retreating back into the darkest places. The estranged beauty and pearly-gate melancholy rooted in Mark Hollis’ songwriting and singing on Laughing Stock have few parallels (at least in my own record collection) though this haunted music can certainly make for uneasy listening.
I was a bit surprised then to notice “Runeii” being used rather inconspicuously in Un prophète, French filmmaker Jacques Audiard‘s warmly praised prison drama about a jailed hoodlum Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) advancing through the criminal ranks to become a professional gangster while serving his sentence.
With its lead character being a young Muslim, many have tried to read the film in relation to how French society deals with the immigrant issue – although Audiard himself has apparently claimed that his film has nothing to do with his vision of society. Un prophète is most absorbing when detailing the moral decisions Malik has to make, as he attempts to survive prison life by utilizing his smarts and cunning as much as he taps into deep reservoirs of spiritual strength. And the finesse displayed by Audiard in his packaging of this compelling coming-of-age tale is evident too in his use of music, the careful synchronization of “Runeii” with the film’s mood of suspenseful introspection to properly convey Malik’s sturdy resilience. - keith.
mp3: talk talk – runeii
handpicked by our map anchorman brian koh, the music of nicholas chim gives us a intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of the singaporean songwriter as he battles his inner demons. although his second album forgiefan is due only next year, nicholas has very kindly offered the track “midnight” to all our readers: read on for brian’s feature on it for this issue of the music alliance pact, the monthly initiative brought to you by music bloggers all over the world.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Nicholas Chim – Midnight
Nicholas Chim is a singer-songwriter who walks the thin line between being absolutely self-indulgent and giving every iota of emotion that he conveys through his music. What results is some of the most earnest songs that shine in their simplicity; yet, the complexity of his arrangements and lyrics come forth distilled and pure. Nicholas is in the middle of recording his second album, Forgiefan, but has kindly shared a contemplative, folksy offering from it entitled Midnight. He hopes you enjoy the music as much as he did writing it. - brian.
To download all 34 songs in one file click here
this morning, while reading an article on nicolas poussin’s a dance to the music of time, i was struck by writer harry eyres’ observation on our misplaced obsession with reading too much into a painting. while it is certainly appealing to read poussin’s work as an esoteric painting with some secret meanings underneath, eyres suggests it is quite likely the opposite, that “it is simply one of the most poignant, poised, comprehensive visions of human life – what it is to be a human, living in time – that has ever been committed to canvas“.
that resonates strongly with how i listen to nick drake. his life and early death weighs heavily over his brief but consistently magnificent body of work, but i appreciate it best listening to it as it is. “time has told me”, the first song on his debut 1969 album five leaves left, probably reveals volumes on the troubled mind of the man who started off his career on frighteningly introspective hindsight and you can probably go on psychoanalyzing that. but stripped of this personal baggage, drake’s music contains quite simply the most broodingly romantic expressions of the human condition.
i’m not saying we shouldn’t look at biography and context when appreciating any piece of music, or work of art, for that matter. in fact, i can’t begin to stress how important that is. but sometimes i find myself guilty of reading so much into things that i miss the glaring beauty of the work itself – even in the simplest of songs like “time has told me” which, though hardly comparing in scale and grandeur to poussin’s masterpiece, most laudably shares with it an unspeakable beauty. such a rare, rare find it is. - dan.
mp3: nick drake – time has told me
i’ve not had a saturday evening like this in quite a while, lounging at home and taking things a little slower. the rain has just arrived, along with it a welcome cool breeze and a diligent descending of raindrops at my window. it blends seamlessly with what i’m listening to now – mount kimbie‘s debut album crooks & lovers – especially tonight when i’m using my open-ear headphones. i really enjoy how the music just breathes so much more, hearing the rain fill in the gaps, sometimes even adding onto the textures as it does when the minimal intro of “carbonated” gives way to a sheet of gentle static. in this beautiful moment, everything just seems in its right place. - dan.
mp3: mount kimbie – carbonated
crooks and lovers is out now on hotflush.
There is a nervous loping quality to “Mask”, Chromatics’ own (black) pyramid song if you may, that stands out immediately from the other tracks on their 2007 full-length album Night Drive. I can’t wait to hear the band approach this one onstage – the hounds of thorny guitars encircling the vintage dance beats, while shadowy keyboards work up a steady, sinister routine in the background. The ultimate nocturnally damaged sonic canvas to live out your wildest film-noir fantasies. - keith.
mp3: chromatics – mask
Straight out of the formidable Italians Do It Better roster, Chromatics and Glass Candy are to perform in Singapore this Thursday night (Nov 4) at Zouk. Chromatics’ Night Drive has just been given the reissue treatment with a deluxe-edition.