Right Hand Left Hand is a two-piece band: Andrew Plain (drums/guitars) and Rhodri Viney (guitars/ vocals/ drums) from Cardiff, Wales. “2 members playing 2 guitars, 2 drum kits, centred around a loop station”, as their official bio informs us.
2015 is almost done and dusted but there are still a couple of loose ends to tie up. Here’s a couple of Singapore instrumental albums released this year that you might want to examine a little closer.
Russian post-rockers Around The World In 80 Days make its performance debut in Singapore on 18th November.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Instrumental rock quartet Sphaeras releases its debut album Moirai this Saturday 2nd May at The Substation.
Tickets available from http://peatix.com/event/79667.
One of the perks of being a rock journalist is getting advances of new releases and it’s even more satisfying when you get a chance to listen to cutting edge rock music that is made by good friends as well. As regular visitors to Power of Pop will be all too aware, I have been a rabid fan of In Each Hand a Cutlass since the early days and whilst guitarist extraordinaire Daniel Sassoon (Livonia, Electrico) has always been the band lynchpin, the musicians Sassoon has surrounded himself with over several lineup changes have always been some of the best in the business.
IEHAC’s debut A Universe Made of Strings was a powerhouse in its own right but seems almost like a kindergarten school outing when compared to the new album, The Kraken. As dynamic as those individual tracks were, they cannot hold a candle to the cohesive ambition displayed on this astounding work. Helmed by the legendary L.A. producer Brad Wood, there is a consistency running throughout the LP that compels the listener to sit entranced for the entire duration, breathless at the wonder and awe that the music evokes, somewhat effortlessly.
As its centrepiece is the mammoth title track, broken down into four parts, for easier consumption. “The Kraken” is almost a treatise on rock music itself, finding ways to incorporate diverse strands of the best rock styles that have inspired millions over decades. Once again, this is progressive rock in the best sense of that term – not merely a genre identifier but a statement of artistic intent. Equal parts post-rock, prog-metal and psych-rock, this epic number brings the unwary listener across dimensions, a witness to interplanetary warfare and the birth and death of galaxies! One never questions the lack of lyrics for even a micro-second as the music speaks volumes.
If the album only contained “The Kraken”, it would already be worth the price of admission but add to that the power and majesty of tracks like “Ouroboros” and “Heracleion” and the picture is perfect. Essential but you already knew that.
IEHAC launches The Kraken on 24th April 2015 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets available from SISTIC.
In the meantime, listen to the first single “Satori 101”
Connect with IEHAC online
The folks at Symmetry Entertainment are bringing back This Will Destroy You, who were last on our shores in a sold-out show in 2013. The post-rock band is in demand with music supervisors of Hollywood films as well as award ceremonies like the Golden Globes and a TWDY show always promises fun, inspiration and intensity.
Event details: –
Venue: Substation Theatre
Tickets: 60SGD (Standard)
70SGD (At the door)
On 20 January 2015, Taiwanese math rock trio Elephant Gym (above) will debut in Singapore, alongside NAO, hailing from across the causeway. Completing this line up will be our very own rising Sphaeras.
Details at www.livepod.asia.
New local promoters LivePOD got off to a great start as it brought to our indie scene, an instrumental rock event (at Hood Bar) that not only championed an acclaimed regional act – COMA – but also showcased our very own talented bands viz In Each Hand a Cutlass and NeoDominatrix.
Amateur Takes Control is pretty active for a nominally dormant band with a compilation record coming out next week and an one-off reunion show this coming Friday, 15th August at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. So if dynamic post-rock instrumentals are your thing, go check them out before ATC go on hiatus…
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/
VARIOUS ARTISTS Postrockology (Deep Elm)
In the gospel according to Deep Elm Records, you have the corporate sell-out pseudo indie labels who work hand in hand with major record companies for distribution and publicity, and then you have the keepers of the true faith, as exemplified by Deep Elm Records themselves: untainted by commercial interests, true indie labels undyingly devoted to the music with a singular passion.
I AM SONIC RAIN Between Whales & Feverish Lights (Deep Elm)
Between Whales & Feverish Lights is the latest album from I Am Sonic Rain, an instrumental band from Italy. The album is well.. sonic, and very powerful and the emotion that emanates from it is fearless. On the entire album, the five-piece band is unafraid to push the boundaries by being loud, and very dark at the right times. Listening to an album is generally a journey, but in the case of Between Whales & Feverish Lights, every track is one.
I must confess (and you probably know this about me already, if you’re a regular PoP visitor) that I’m not a big fan of the musical genre popularly known as “post-rock”. Well, it’s basically formulaic instrumental alt-rock that more or less got pretty old after bands like Mogwai (not one of my favorite bands either) set out the basic pattern. Y’know, the soft/loud dynamic and the spider-web of guitars that oscillate endlessly.
BRANDON FLOWERS Flamingo (Island/Universal)
I must confess that I’ve never been much of a Killers fan. This has more to do with the fact that I am a first generation post-punk lover than anything else and just could not get into the warmed up post-punk leftovers that the Killers were getting rich and famous on. But totally from an objective perspective, I can understand where they’re coming from and would still prefer kids to go mad over the Killers music over something vacuous like Justin Bieber, anytime.
Answers by Kim Ruiz (guitar, vocals) of DORENA
WORKING FOR A NUCLEAR FREE CITY The Jojo Burgest Tempest (Melodic)
The Jojo Burger Tempest is the 3rd album from Working For A Nuclear Free City (WFANFC), an electronic post-rock group hailing from the UK.
DORENA About Everything and More (Deep Elm)
About Everything and More is Dorena’s sophomore effort of instrumental indie/pop on a grandiose scale, the follow up to Holofon. From the very beginning, Dorena establishes themselves as a very tight band, united in vision and in the ideas they wish to convey, which are all apparent from the first track, The Morning Bus.
The poster speaks for itself I guess. Save to say that since it was printed, Zero Sequence has had to withdraw. Instead, ZS’s Simon Yong will be playing a solo set backed by three of the ZG guys. Go figure 🙂
RED SPAROWES The Fear Is Excruciating But Therein Lies the Answer (Sargent House)
The band known for their ridiculously long song titles (e.g. The Great Leap Forward Poured Down Upon Us One Day Like a Mighty Storm, Suddenly and Furiously Blinding Our Senses) has reined in such penchants somewhat leaving fans with a lengthy album name instead.
What has not changed, however, is Red Sparowes’ gift in expressing narrative concepts in instrumental rock passages that are laced with dynamic traces of progressive metal, atmospheric shoegaze, old school post-rock and even Americana! On The Fear Is Excruciating, Red Sparowes’ third full-length, eschews the sheer visceral violence of the post-metal set (like Russian Circles) and finds the payoff in considered mid-tempo pieces, alternating between soft and loud sequences for maximum impact.
In certain senses, Red Sparowes has gone back to basics, almost “dumbing” down the instrumentals to highlight more clarified melodies rather than epic grand-standing. Its all in excellent contrast to what is happening in the instrumental rock scene at the moment and for that, the band should be applauded.
Free download: Giving Birth To Imagined Saviours
AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR The Letters EP (Smalltown America)
Truth be told, I’ll swear to you that “post-rock” isn’t really my thing. But something’s been brewing within the scene and certain bands have started to get rid of all the precious shoegaze elements and replacing them with approaches from metal, hardcore and even progressive rock genres. So perhaps, “post-metal” may be a more accurate term here.
One such “post-metal” band is And So I Watch You From Afar. Hailing from Belfast, the band consists of Rory Friers and Tony Wright on guitars with Johnny Adger on bass and Chris Wee on drums. (Trivia – Chris is the brother of Shan Wee – a 98.7FM deejay!)
ASIWYFA’s agenda is pretty much established by the opening track of last year’s brilliant debut album – Set Guitars To Kill. Indeed.
This EP continues in the same vein as the debut LP as ASIWYFA basically assault the unwary listener with slabs of metallic force and mathematical precision, without sacrificing an iota of intensity and passion. Four tracks with non-sensical titles like D is for Django the Bastard.
A wide spectrum of styles and genres is represented on this EP, references to King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Megadeth, Metallica, Fugazi, Rites of Spring, Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky abound. Which makes any music from ASIWYFA essential in my book.
Check out the video below of ASIWYFA playing Set Guitars To Kill at SXSW this year.
B-QUARTET conformity has replaced consciousness (Aging Youth)
How do you follow up a near perfect debut album? That, my friends, was the dilemma presented to S-ROCK’s wonderboys B-Quartet. If you’re a close observer of the S-ROCK scene, then you would be familiar with the band’s wondrous debut LP, Tomorrow is My Permanent Address. In any review, I loved it and placed it in the Top 5 albums of 2008. Read my review here.
Back to the B-Quartet dilemma. Well, with sophomore effort – conformity has replaced consciousness – the band has obviously taken great pains to further develop their songcraft and instrumental prowess whilst retaining the spirit of that heady debut. So, whilst conformity does not contain such accessible instant classics like Shoebox, Boutique or Disp rs, there’s no denying that the band has moved on the next level in their pursuit of a musical excellence that goes beyond mere aping of their favorite indie bands.
There are no clear standouts on conformity (though I confess a fondness for a dull taste on my tongue and still homeless), yet the quality is uniformly consistent and it may be more of a slow burner (i.e. would require several plays before fully appreciating its depth) but I am impressed by the band’s commitment to the music rather than pandering the vagaries of the average indie rock fan’s tastebuds. The mark of true artists.
Musically, references abound to many varied sources e.g. Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Jaga Jazzist, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, XTC, Steely Dan and much much more. For those who know their music, the above list certainly suggests a trippy sonic experience for those discerning enough to pick up this challenging and ambitious S-ROCK album.
B-Quartet will be launching conformity has replaced consciousness at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 11th April at 9.30pm. Tickets available from SISTIC.