If like us you need to have loud rock music blasting right in your face to celebrate the first week of the new year, then we highly recommend getting down to the Esplanade Annexe Studio this Friday, January 5th at 7pm.
The amount of new music releases in 2015 is staggering. And it’s basically impossible to be able to listen to everything out there. But when it comes to Singapore Rock, well then it is possible to almost do just that.
Thus, a justification for this list – our recommendations for those of you who have recently come aboard the S-ROCK train. Welcome to the rest of your life!
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.
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.
Daniel Sassoon, Nelson Tan, Sujin Thomas, Jordan Cheng, Amanda Ling
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”
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.