Aya Sekine was brought to my attention after we received the mailer from the awesome folk at Syndicate that she would be featured alongside Pleasantry’s Isa Ong who will be performing as Sleep Easy the next installment of Syndicate’s Subsessions. Curious, I decided to take a gander at what awaited us this Saturday.
Aya Sekine plays beautiful jazz improvisations on her piano and keyboards. I probably didn’t realise, but I’d heard her play at the Blu Jaz cafe / bar, and I was always impressed by the music I was hearing as it reminded me of a particular jazz bar that I frequented while studying in Perth. What’s really getting me excited is the promise that she will unleash a more experimental side, not just in terms of musicality, but technology as well. In the mean time, I’m happy to pass on a listen of her music.
mp3: Aya Sekine – Syndrome
Sleep Easy will also be performing aside the accomplished Aya Sekine, and while she delves into the sometimes manic maelstroms of jazz improvisation, Sleep Easy approaches his craft in a more delicate and simple manner. It does evoke the sort of rising slumber in a field of golden grass routine, but I think it’s the perfect counterpoint to each others’ body of work.
mp3: Sleep Easy – Fingertips
Syndicate’s Subsessions will be happening at The Substation Theater, 45 Armenian Street on 25 August 2012, 8PM – 10PM, and also features visuals by Syndicate’s resident artist, Brandon Tay. Tickets are $20 at the door. There’s more information at Syndicate’s post here.
Singapore’s foremost beats and visual culture collective Syndicate, noted for its collaborations with LA’s Brainfeeder crew, has been working the ground for quite some time, hosting a two-year long run at Home Club and embarking soon on a new series The Syndicate Subsessions at the Substation. For a group of such (yet growing) stature, it’s surprising how little has been put out on record. Apart from a five track self-titled EP released at the end of 2010, the collective has been focusing its energies on its live shows, collaborations, and putting mixes up online.
In that sense, Syndicate’s output is hard to collate meaningfully, and perhaps it isn’t meant to be, since it’s more of the experience than the product that matters here. Yet it can be quite fun putting things together, as I have been trying for Max Lane, one of the collective’s members. Recordings under his name have been scanty and may be traced largely to his self-released debut EP The MIM Project (2009) and some contributions scattered across various compilations; but there’s such a cohesive vision in all his works, that haunting exploration of his cultural past channeled through the dual lenses of nostalgia and futurism as most fully realised in “Wohub”, his opening track for The Syndicate EP.
However, it’s most fascinating chancing upon works-in-progress, as I found in his contribution last year to the Urban Waves beats compilation. Titled “Maghrib”, the track seems like fleeting vignette or lost soundtrack from a film never made, a prayer uttered but left hanging, perhaps intentionally and adding to its mystical appeal. It could go anywhere from here, and some things are best left that way: we can probably extend that sentiment to Syndicate itself, which seems to keep growing precisely because of its commitment to ongoing experimentation that keeps (us) looking forward. - Dan.
mp3: Max Lane – Maghrib
The first Syndicate Subsessions takes place on 24 March (Saturday) 8pm at the Substation, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore, featuring Gema and Muon, with visuals by Brandon Tay and Rafi Dean. Check here for more details.
Yes, I know I’m more than ten years late, but last night I participated in my first ever Zaireeka listening party. Organized by the Substation’s associate artist Song-Ming Ang as part of his two-week long Sonic Visions series, this event involved the simultaneous playing of multiple copies of Zaireeka, itself an ambitious 4-cd album intended for concurrent playback for a quadrophonic aural experience, an album I always wished I owned.
Zaireeka was birthed from the Flaming Lips‘ parking lot experiments, a synchronized playing of cassettes on multiple car stereos. In his adoption of Wayne Coyne’s role in those sessions as orchestral conductor, Song-Ming sought to create a similarlly communal listening experience by inviting participants to bring their own CD-playing equipment and speakers, and subsequently work together in synching the playback of almost twenty CDs.
What fun we all had, and such satisfaction gleaned from getting as close as we could to coordinating our small but important finger-pressing tasks. Yet, to focus on perfection in execution would be missing the point of it all, which was so much more to do with embracing uncertainty and learning to relate to music in its spatial dimension. Song-Ming gamely let us toy with different arrangements too, encouraging us to walk around for some songs and sit down for the later ones while dimming the lights, and indulging our pleas for a spontaneous random-track encore finale.
Halfway through, I remembered how I used to dream, long ago, of having a room with walls made of speakers, to be quite literally surrounded by sound. Last night, I think I realized at least a part of that dream by partaking in a mindblowing experience that will never be recreated in the same way again. In the midst of the bombast, though, I think I’ve come to appreciate also the parts that make the whole, and it’s one part of Zaireeka that I dug up from my old Race for the Prize single that’s all I have to leave you with now. - Dan.
mp3: The Flaming Lips – Thirty-Five Thousand Feet Of Despair (Disc 1)
Sonic Visions is a series of events organized by Song-Ming Ang at the Substation in conjunction with his first solo exhibition in Singapore, You and I (14 Jan – 9 Feb 2011 at the Substation Random Room).