upon the release of ghostfather by singaporean band humpback oak in 1997, local musician, dj and critic chris ho termed their music “heart-core”. listening again to ghostfather after all these years, i can’t help but agree with that label, even if it sounds a little awkward and clumsy today. the wry, brooding folk of the quartet led by leslie low (now of the observatory) never shied away from matters of the heart, whether via personal or philosophical routes. at the same time, their music was always biting and penetrating, digging beneath the surface despite the pain and discomfort. for me, the song that captures this best is the album closer “pain”, a song that walks with such trepidation across the experiences of confusion and hurt, whilst building up repeatedly to a chorus that forcefully tears apart the wretchedness of sorrow from the joy of pain. it’s a harrowing conclusion to an exhausting journey that rewards you for sticking it to the end. – dan.
mp3: humpback oak – pain
humpback oak’s entire discography has been reissued in a limited boxset titled oaksongs. it will be sold exclusively at polymath & crust (86 club street, singapore) this weekend (27 & 28 feb, 1-5pm).