SINGAPORE WRITERS FESTIVAL 2015: ISLAND OF DREAMS – IN EACH HAND A CUTLASS + I AM DAVID SPARKLE

Island of Dreams

Alright, here’s the concept – let’s have ‘crossover’ events with music for the Singapore Writers Festival 2015. All perfectly logical – after all songs have lyrics.

Now, let’s stretch that further and have the opening event a concert featuring two of Singapore’s leading INSTRUMENTAL rock bands!

Yes indeed, that’s the way to do something completely different and with In Each Hand a Cutlass (left, above) and I Am David Sparkle on board, one can be sure that the music will be up to the task.

Luckily for Power of Pop, we get to quiz the bands and they get to write some words to – hopefully – offer some clarity about Island of Dreams.

How did the organisers set out the task assigned to you regarding Island of Dreams?

Sujin Thomas (IEHAC): We were approached at first as a potential band to write the theme song for the Singapore Writers Festival and later commissioned to do the job.  I think the organisers decided on an instrumental band because we offered that element of songwriting without words. What was cool was that they left the creative process entirely to us to work out. 

Daniel Sassoon (IEHAC): We definitely appreciate the creative freedom given to us, although the track is ultimately a commissioned piece. We shared our ideas and vision of what the song was meant to capture – namely, the spark of inspiration that ignites the whole creative process, and the birthing of new worlds as a result. They saw where we were coming from and liked the demo, and gave some feedback; we tweaked it a little when recording it, and off we went to Snakeweed Studios.

I Am David Sparkle: Expressions of life’s liberties.

What was the main challenge in coming up with a set that would be suitable for the theme assigned to you?

Sujin: For the theme song itself, we had to think outside of our familiar realm, that is, to steer away from the technicalities and mood shifts of our own tracks. We kept in mind that we had to create an instrumental song that could not only be catchy and engaging but also be palatable for mainstream listeners. Our set for the gig is made up of a range of songs off our second LP, The Kraken, with a few tracks from our debut album, and of course, the theme song. Again, we kept in mind that the audience at the gig may not all be familiar with our stuff so we’ve curated a set list that will offer them an easy introduction to the band, with a few fan favourites thrown in the mix for good measure. Basically, we plan to blow their minds to bits.

IADS: Aggressive discipline and barbaric control.

What is your interpretation of Island of Dreams – what does it mean to you?

Amanda Ling (IEHAC): Dream factory, through the mind, to the hands and out to the world.

Daniel: I imagine this island as a safe space in the middle of the ocean, which carries certain danger and the unknown that lurks in its depths.

IADS: No disguise can deface evil, that stains the primitive sickle blood red.

As an instrumental band, how do you convey your ideas effectively, without the use of words?

Amanda: Music is a universal language that can be understood through its emotive nature of the mood, tempo, instrumentation set by the musicians. The dynamics of each element interplay with each other and the wordless nature provides the listener with a vast possibility of interpretation through their imagination. 

Nelson Tan (IEHAC): Most of the time I go with the flow. If I feel that it sounds right, I would go for it. I also try not to focus too much on the technical aspect of my bass playing but more like let the song develop into the way I feel is right. Many a times I’ve tried to introduce more advanced ways of playing only to find that grooving with the drummer prevails over tapping demisemiquaver notes over a 3 octave B harmonic minor scale in major 3rds using both hands at 300BPM. Sometimes less is more for most of the time. 

Daniel: I didn’t even understand that, but that’s why Nelson’s got that music degree!

IADS: Oppression ruled by bloodshed.

Besides the music itself, are there any other aspects of your performance that will go towards an interpretation of the theme?

Daniel: We should be having some background visuals and mood lighting that would enhance the atmosphere; but we’ll leave that to the professionals to come up with all that good stuff. We’ll just focus on playing as best we can.

IADS: Seizing all civil liberties.

Island of Dreams will be held at the Victoria Theatre on 30th October.

Tickets available from http://www.sistic.com.sg/events/swf2015c 

Listen to In Each Hand a Cutlass’ “The Paper, The Pen and the World Began” – the theme song of the Singapore Writers Festival.

LIVE NEWS: SINGAPORE WRITERS FESTIVAL 2015 – WRITING FOR THE EARS

IEHAC
In Each Hand a Cutlass

An excellent sign that Singapore music is slowly (but surely) permeating the mainstream consciousness is the clutch of music events to be held in the upcoming Singapore Writers Festival, from October 30th to November 8th 2015, organised by the National Arts Council. 

Kicking off is Island of Dreams, an instrumental rock concert at the Victoria Theatre on 30th October, featuring In Each Hand a Cutlass and I Am David Sparkle, two heavyweights in the local indie scene.

From epic rock bombast, the music gets all stripped down and fragile with Story Songs by Tiny Ruins. Kiwi Hollie Fullbrook returns to Singapore on 1st November at the Chamber, the Arts House.

Finally, we have Dimensions and Demons, with artists from literary and musical disciplines collaborating on works to be presented on 5th November at the Esplanade Recital Studios. Writers Dave Chua, Daren Shiau and Stephanie Ye have been rehearsing with musicians weish (.gif), Riot !n Magenta and Ferry (Giants Must Fall) for the past few months for this co-presentation with The Esplanade.

Power of Pop will be in the thick of the action with reviews and interviews but so can you. The Festival organisers have kindly offered a pair of tickets to each of the above events to lucky PoP visitors.

Now, you can only select one of these events to apply to – simply write in to kamcomusic@gmail.com with a 5o-word note on why you love Power of Pop so much! (Also include your full name and NRIC No., please) Oh and let us know which event you would like to attend and voilà (!) you could be on your way. (Winning entries will be published here! Be warned!!)

First come, first served and all that jazz. The decision of Power of Pop regarding the identity of the lucky recipients shall be final & conclusive. Closing date is 27th October.

More info at https://www.singaporewritersfestival.com/nacswf/nacswf.html

ALBUM REVIEW: MOONLAPSE – FADE CONSTRUCT

Moonlapse

Is it still metal without guitars and drums? Well, the purists out there will quite obviously growl – NO!

This is Moonlapse – basically, 21 year old electronic artist Ben Strick – who has recorded a five-track LP of progressive instrumental metal music on his computer!

Once you have gotten over the novelty of what sounds like progressive metal actually being electronic music, it wears off.

No matter how you try, technology has not been able to recreate the timbre of strings accurately yet.

Yes, you could probably get away with the drums and percussion but guitars? No way.

That all said, that should not be criterion to judge Moonlapse by. As progressive electro-rock, I can see Moonlapse generating a buzz but to be honest, after awhile you are going to be missing those guitars.

Full marks for effort though!

No information about when or where will Fade Construct be released. Updates at https://www.facebook.com/moonlapseofficial.

In the meantime, check out Moonlapse’s previous release.

COMA X IN EACH HAND A CUTLASS X NEODOMINATRIX

3theshow poster 2 small

Epic Malaysian post-rock band COMA is coming to Singapore to share the stage with sonic pirates In Each Hand A Cutlass, and fusion geniuses of NeoDominatrix at Hood Bar And Cafe on Saturday 6 September 2014. COMA will debut on our shores celebrating its 10th year of music making. Prepare for the onslaught of sensory pleasures induced by an aural blanket tethering on the dark and heavy.

Presenting the show is LivePod, a new indie music promoter, and created as an extension of 4 year old art collective SPORE Art Salon. There are several shows in the pipeline that will introduce international bands to Singapore audiences in the coming months, and it is with hope that this endeavour will create new relationships, connecting local bands with international music scenes.

Early bird tickets and EP-promo bundles are available now – http://3theshow.peatix.com/

ALIVE & KICKING – AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR / SUB:SHAMAN

ASIWYFA_PoP-1
Photo by Aloysius Lim

Sure, as a music lover based in Singapore, one is currently inundated with big rock concert draws like Eric Clapton & The Rolling Stones and with big rock festivals like St. Jerome’s Laneway & the Hostess Club Weekender. But seriously folks, nothing quite beats the experience of watching a cracking band up close in an intimate venue. Nothing.

Continue reading “ALIVE & KICKING – AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR / SUB:SHAMAN”

MATTHEW LEE – STRAWBERRY VANILLA [REVIEW]

Look I believe in supporting as many different ‘genres’ as possible, especially within the S-ROCK scene but sometimes one does impose a certain bias upon musical direction and approaches. Take guitarist Matthew Lee for example. His 9-track album is instrumental rock that covers a gamut of diverse styles – hard rock, metal, pop-punk, classical and even sentimental – so there’s no questioning his eclecticism. But some of the tracks  – “=D”, “I Remember Happiness” and “Strawberry Vanilla” should really have vocals and not a guitar playing what are essentially vocal lines.

No quibbling with Lee’s technical prowess whatsoever but there’s no getting over the nagging feeling that some of these tracks would be better served with vocals. Check out Strawberry Vanilla and see if you agree…

 

MAGUS

 

Sun Worshipper (Ujikaji)

Where experimental music intersects with heavy metal – this is the fecund proving ground in which Magus exists. Consisting of guitarist Leslie Low (Observatory) and drummer Mark Dolmont, Magus is an instrumental metal duo that doles out sonic trances with heft. Low and Dolmont first hooked up when both were working in the same production company in Singapore and performed a couple of gigs before Canadian Dolmont left the country. With basic recording completed in a day in San Francisco and assembled online between Low and Dolmont, Sun Worshipper is an amalgamation of sludgy guitar riffs (reminiscent of metal pioneers Black Sabbath and progressive rockers King Crimson), percussive assaults and musique concrete, enveloped by the kind of ambient noise developed by the likes of Shellac and Sunn O))).

The opening Chakravyuha sets the doom-laden tone with typical Iommi-isms with the strident Slow Birth and Chinese Spirals maintaining the unrelenting attack. In between, tracks like Floatations and Riders On Psychedelics allow for slightly funkier rhythms, providing relief somewhat from the metallic shock tactics that dominate. Not for all tastes, it must be emphasized. But certainly for the metal fan who appreciates an artistic, experimental flavor, then definitely Magus’ Sun Worshipper will more than satisfy. Set the controls for the dark side of the moon…