ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY: INCH CHUA – BUMFUZZLE [REVIEW]

Inch

 

Sometimes, as a reviewer, one gets confronted with music that gets so much under one’s skin that it almost becomes nigh impossible for said reviewer to come up with descriptions that will do remote justice to the thoughts and emotions coursing through the synapses.

I have known Inch Chua for about six years now – from back in the day when she fronted indie rock outfit Allura with no small measure of aplomb and dynamism. When the band went on indefinite hiatus, Inch embarked on a solo project which she has pursued aggressively and ambitiously beyond our shores in Los Angeles.

Her sophomore effort – Bumfuzzle (co-produced with Leonard Soosay and Mark John Hariman) – has been percolating through my senses for a couple of months now and in my humble estimation, one of the finest musical works ever produced by Singaporeans.

No mere hyperbole, I would suggest – the proof is in the listening. This is not the kind of frivolous female folk-jazz-soul-pop that distaff Singaporean singer-songwriters are wont to deliver – not by any means. Instead, Bumfuzzle is a melting pot of rock and pop influences and a smash + grab attempt at high artistic music compositional values.

I am still in some shock at the quantum leap that Inch has made from her debut album – it’s almost as if an alien entity (imbued with indie rock pixie dust) has possessed Inch. Such is the radical shift and departure that it’s so very difficult to reconcile the differences.

Not that Bumfuzzle is an intellectual exercise – well it is, but so much more – especially when a song like “Dear Paramour” comes in from the blue like a dart to the heart and penetrates my emotional defences. By the time the songs changes time signature in the bridge, I am ruined – spine tingles, lump in throat and tears well up uncontrollably – who is this arty magician who can make me feel this way?

The track segues comfortably into “Artful Dodger”, the album’s lead single – a pop song that eschews all the machinations of modern pop making and digs deeply into ‘old-school’ sensibilities with such deft ability that all one can do is grin, stupidly but happily!

This sense of time displacement is wonderfully summarized in “Old Nine” – a 50s jazz showtune – updated for our edgy times – filtered through an epic psychedelic lens that the Flaming Lips themselves would be dead chuffed to call their own. The closing “Glow” continues in this vein, like a jaded Disney movie theme. Gorgeous.

And yes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Bumfuzzle is worth the closer examination. Many many times over…

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