Look out, look out, for the man who came in with little fanfare and left just as unassumingly not too long after. For that brief hour or less, Mike Hadreas – performing as Perfume Genius – was laid bare for all, his music an intimate, knotted struggle. As in their recorded versions in his debut album Learning, the songs all sounded too short and ended too abruptly, drawing out each time an awkward pause before the applause. But Hadreas knows awkwardness well enough to let those moments linger, keeping the tension going with an audience probably more nervious than he.
As the opener, “Perry” was an apt introduction to the tormented world of Perfume Genius, of memories haunted and still raw. Captivatingly, Hadreas worked hard in each of the subsequent songs to present the dark as beautiful, with the deeply personal “Learning” and “Mr. Peterson” garnering the most unanimous response from a 100-strong crowd that was mostly appreciative but at times dumbstruck. For me, it was the brittle cry and grippingly bare piano of “Look Out, Look Out” that struck hardest, that unsettled wariness remaining even as the bar started to clear and the evening to close. – Dan.
mp3: Perfume Genius – Look Out, Look Out
The Perfume Genius gig at Blujaz was made possible by 4imaginaryboys. Learning is out now on Matador Records.
I’ve been waking up to some of the most well-crafted songs in a while, all courtesy of singer-songwriter Nicholas Chim.
The entire album entitled Forgiefan flows seamlessly from track to track. The song arrangements are astute enough that one gets the sense of a sculptor carefully and deliberately chiseling at his masterpiece. We’re not talking about cold dead stones, but at statues that come to life when bathed in the right light, and what a light it is! Nicholas’ emotive delivery carefully casts this light as he lays it all out, bare and broken, surrendered to the fates beyond control, just like that last shot of whiskey as the first rays of sunlight fracture through your window.
There’s a song for everyone, but I found myself drawn to one particular song. The first track, “In the End”, lulls you into the tapestry that Nicholas has weaved. Almost a song for the bereavement of love lost, shades of Kings of Convenience and Mark Kozelek in its delivery and its sparse yet deceptively simple guitar work. It’s the point of the blade that balances Nicholas’ entire world and where the most true words are hinged. “I still feel your knife in my heart.” – Brian.
mp3: Nicholas Chim – In The End
Forgiefan can be purchased as a digital download, or a physical CD with wonderful artwork by Kristal Melson. Head on down to the Bandcamp.
You should also check out Nicholas’ music video for his first single, I Want You Again (feat. Aarika Lee) over here.
Why Moby never sampled this track will always remain a mystery. Sun Ra’s “Door to the Cosmos”, the centerpiece of his 1979 album Sleeping Beauty, provides that perfect entry point to Motor City Drum Ensemble’s DJ Kicks mix, an effortless blend of jazz, soul, afro-beat and various shades of Danilo Plessow’s signature deep house. The track, with its soulful gospel intro and the rest of its casual free-jazz, sounds like one of Sun Ra’s more laid back efforts even whilst remaining entrancing as ever. That too mirrors the mix as a whole which works precisely because Plessow never tries too hard to make things work together – he just knows they would. – Dan.
mp3: Sun Ra – Door To The Cosmos
DJ Kicks by Motor City Drum Ensemble is out now on !k7.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Hanging Up The Moon – Water Under The Bridge
Hanging Up The Moon is the self-titled debut album and solo project of Sean Lam, best known for fronting Singaporean band Concave Scream. After an extended hiatus, Sean’s return to songwriting has been welcomed by many, especially for his minimalist and introspective approach. The songs in this album, which you can pay as you wish for at his website, were birthed in the stillness of the night before dawn breaks. You can just imagine the quiet corner where these carefully-crafted songs were committed to recording, without a squeak or whimper; and when each track is done, only a still air lingering. – Brian.
To download all 35 songs in one file click here. MAP is published on the 15th of every month, featuring a showcase of music handpicked by bloggers from all over the world.
I woke up a couple of mornings ago to Pulp’s “Live Bed Show”, the song lodged right in the middle of their unforgettable 1995 Different Class album. It was nowhere as anthemic as “Common People” nor as immediately tragic as “Disco 2000”, but its cynicism seemed to burn deeper than the rest of the record, with its protagonist struggling with life past her prime and only the reminisce of seven years ago, a memory that’s always left hanging. Struggling out of bed and dragging myself out of the house, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of past I was even identifying with when things were very different then, but the day soon took over, the sentiments quickly wore off, and I never even knew its name. – Dan.
mp3: Pulp – Live Bed Show (Live at Glastonbury 1998)
There’s something calming and therapeutic about listening to the Field on a rare breezy Saturday afternoon. Maybe it’s the neverending loops, that lulling repetition, or the soundscapes themselves that seem to caress and envelope. Or maybe it’s really the weather that makes it perfect. I don’t know, and I don’t want to think too much about it before the moment gets ruined. – Dan.
mp3: The Field – Sun & Ice
The Field’s third album Looping State of Mind will be out next month on Kompakt.
Much of today’s 80s revivalist music filters away the period’s unfashionable bits until a distilled minimalist chic is left behind. For John Maus’ “Believer”, quite the opposite holds true. Although it begins on a sufficiently bare-bones new wave approach with that monotonously steadfast driving rhythm, everything else quickly gets piled on in dazzling proportions, including layer upon glorious layer of heavenward synths. Maus’ vocals, chilled, murky and haunted, manages to provide one crucial highlight in the midst of all this, delivering a deliciously familiar chorus recalling what we’d never admit to loving about Rick Astley. It’s a song that calls out all our pretensions; yet, because Maus never allows room for cynicism, it also offers a most heartwarming redemption for the faithful few who stayed the course. – Dan.
mp3: John Maus – Believer
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves is out now on Ribbon Music.