Playfreely+ returns in 2014

Two years after its successful run of six critically acclaimed sessions, the music festival Playfreely+ is slated to return in January 2014.

Presented by veteran experimental music group The Observatory, in partnership with Ujikaji Records and supported by the National Arts Council of Singapore, Norsk Jazz Forum, and Music Norway, Playfreely+ will feature an exciting roster of both local and international musicians.

The three-day programme aims to offer a space for musical conversation, experimentation and improvisation to take place, with an expanded line-up of workshops, a jukebox listening exchange, deejay sets and more.

The festival will bring together acts from diverse genres and backgrounds, which range widely from classical Chinese instrumentalists to experimental electronic musicians. Local musicians such as weish (sub:shaman, .gif), Robert SK (Heritage) and Luqman Hakim (B-Quartet) are featured along with international acts like Christy Smith (USA), Hankil Ryu (Korea) and John Hegre (Norway).

The full line-up is as follows:

Singapore — Andy Chia (Dizi, Electronics)
USA — Christy Smith (Double bass)
Singapore — Cyril Wong (Vocal/Poetry)
Singapore — Darrel Xin (Erhu)
Indonesia — Duto Hardono (Found objects, Cassette loops)
South Korea — Hankil Ryu (Clockworks, Typewriter)
Norway — John Hegre (Guitar)
Japan — Koichi Shimizu (Analog modular system)
Singapore — Lionel Tan (Viola)
Singapore — Luqman Hakim (Guitar, Soundscapes)
Singapore — Natalie Alexandra Tse (Guzheng, Electronics)
Singapore — Nazir Fauzi (Voice and Percussion)
Singapore — Ramu Thiruyanam (Percussion)
Singapore — Riduan Zalani (Percussion/Electronics)
Singapore — Robert SK (Electric guitar)
Malaysia — Sudar Shan (Vocal, Live sampling)
Singapore — Tan Boon Gee (Drums)
Singapore — weish (Vocal, Vocal looping)
Indonesia — Wukir Suryadi (Self-made instruments)
Malaysia — Yong Yandsen (Saxophone)
Singapore — Zubir Abdullah (Gambus)

Playfreely+ 2014
Goodman Arts Centre, Black Box
10 – 12 January 2014
$20 (1-day pass), $50 (3-day pass)

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Peatix.

By Li Shuen Lam

Blue Hour Sessions: MUON — Always pushing the boundaries which push back

OS: MUON has been around for about fourteen years, with a constantly changing line-up over time. Were these deliberate or unavoidable moves?
Nick Chan: Both/And, not Either/Or. They were as deliberate and unavoidable as the small ‘deliberate’ choices one makes in life only to realise later that they changed everything, like a fork in the road of fate (unavoidable). Only responsibility, not credit, can be claimed for such actions.

Fourteen years is a long time for a band, especially relative to the life experience of a teenager. MUON was always more of an idea and system of values than a band. The Blue Hour Sessions itself had its genesis through this system of values, of which I shan’t say more.

I have never made the distinction between being a producer, engineer, band member, whatever, it was all MUON. This has been the case regardless of whether I was producing/playing for I Am David SparkleAstreal. If you were to hear songs from those particular albums, you’d be able to identify that they are interchangeable and belong in any MUON album — but the inverse cannot be said, which has resulted in much confusion and stigma at times.

Have the changes been beneficial to the general creative process, allowing for a larger variety of experimentation of sounds?
All I can say is that works have been created and events crystalized and that they exist. The creative process itself is a participatory one of co-creation between artist and Other, rather than the traditional monotheistic notion of “Look Ma, I created something via a process! And it’s deep!”.

It wasn’t experimentation that resulted in the myriad textures our sound contains — plug-ins and gear were responsible for that. In MUON, ‘experimental’ has more to do with ‘unlearning’ than ‘reinvention’. I approximate ‘reinvention’ with throwing shit against the wall and hoping it will stick on the 7th throw, rather than the 10th. ‘Unlearning’ would be to ask, “Why am I throwing shit against the wall?”

Thus, much energy was put not towards unusual things, but rather towards really difficult stuff, such as, “Mr. Drummer, please do not crash on the 1, or after any roll,” or questions like, “Does laughter have an opposite?” Much easier said than done.

Too often, many try to push the boundaries, without realizing that the boundaries also push back. The less one is aware of this, the more likely the work ends up as experimental drivel that most people have to pretend to understand.

Collaborating with visual artists isn’t anything new to you, you’ve previously worked with Brandon Tay of Syndicate. Is it difficult balancing the two creative visions on two quite different mediums?
Not at all. If affinity is shared, then it’s ONE creative vision, involving TWO individuals from different milieus. Last I checked, Brandon and I weigh about the same.

What are your thoughts on collaborating with William Chan of TMRRW this time round?
William is a total ideas guy who has an impeccable sweet-spot between the special and mundane, the sacred and profane, the simple and the simpler. I feel that working with him this time round has been a well-rounded experience.

If you could compose or recreate the perfect film soundtrack, which film would you choose? Would you choose to collaborate with any other bands?
I would collaborate with Jordan Chia of Pixel Apartment and the film would be Cinema Paradiso.

Lastly, please describe what you hope the audience will feel after your show this weekend. Looking forward to it!
Well, I hope they feel great — that’d be enough. But on a more idealistic front, I hope they feel that in between the grind of daily life and the chasing of representations of things, that the usual BS we hear, that ‘life is beautiful’, ‘nature is alive’, ‘abundance trumps scarcity’, that all of that is true.

By Maria Clare Khoo

Lomography Blue Hour Sessions
with MUON and Dream State Vision
Home Club
Friday, 27 November

carb on carb – Eden Terrors



65 Spectrums & Other Sounds present… 
carb on carb playing “Eden Terrors”

Allsworth Park, Singapore
6 December 2013

Bad weather meant that this video was shot in an apartment complex. Nicole looks so terrified throughout because we’d had a couple of complaints throughout the afternoon. You may notice the door being pounded on by security at some point?

carb on carb:

Plainsunset celebrates 10th anniversary with a gift

Plainsunset are one of Singapore’s longest running bands, the pop-punk group has been in the business for 17 years.  This year, they are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their album The Gift

To coincide with their celebration, the band will be performing The Gift in its entirety at TAB and will be releasing limited edition collector’s vinyl and cassettes.

Plainsunset celebrates 10th anniversary with a gift

Originally released in 2003 by the now defunct label Wake Me Up MusicThe Gift remains influential both for its continuing popularity among fans, and because it was released at a time when the music scene in Singapore flourished with activity.

Victoria Chew of pop-punk group, The Summer State called The Gift “an album that paved the way for many Singaporean bands, especially those in the pop/punk scene.”

Benjamin Kheng, vocalist and guitarist of The Sam Willows, has also spoken about how influential Plainsunset have been in encouraging him to engage in the local music scene. “The Gift was the first local record I ever picked up. It opened my eyes to music on this island. If it weren’t for these guys, many of us wouldn’t even have contemplated doing music here.”

Plainsunset have re-recorded five of their favorite tracks off the album to include in the limited edition bundles which will also feature covers of tracks from The Gift by bands who were influenced by the record, such as The Dirt RadicalsThe Sam Willows, and The Summer State.

The limited edition copies of The Gift are being released by Singaporean label 29 Cornflakes.

Plainsunset performs The Gift
Saturday, 8 February 2014
$15 (pre-sale), $20 (standard)

Tickets are on sale now.

By Katherine Pollock

Lomography x Mac DeMarco x Bee Eyes x carb on carb

Photos taken by Mac DeMarco (and Pierce McGarry, Peter Sagar, and Joe McMurray), Bee Eyes (Diego Abad, Jullius Valledor, Idris Vicuña, and Miguel Hernandez), and carb on carb (Nicole Gaffney and James Stuteley).

3 December 2013 — 9 December 201

Cameras used: Pop 9, Fisheye, La Sardina.

The most special thank you to our wonderful partners Lomography for sponsoring the cameras and film!

By Melissa Yong

Ben releases new music video upon homecoming from Melbourne

Melbourne-based four piece band Ben have just released a brand new music video for their single ‘5‘, which was originally released online over one year ago in September 2012.

The video, directed by Kevin Leong, showcases glimpses of the band’s life in Melbourne and on the road in a somewhat nostalgic ode to Australia’s ‘garden city’ as the band, one by one, prepare for the move back to Singapore.

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″][/youtube]

‘5’ steers clear from the regular onus of post-rock bands; pulsating into a soft, almost danceable beat. Its fluctuating guitars turn from sweet, fluid lines to rapid, tremolo-infused bridges amidst tidily chaotic transitions in time signatures and take us exactly into the moving images we see before us.

Influenced by the likes of Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, and Mono, Ben is built around minimalist soundscapes, intricate guitars, and slow, throbbing bass lines.

With half the band back in Singapore and a debut EP in the works, Ben are certainly one to watch in the coming year.

By Evan Woon

Sony Music to represent Warner catalogue in India

A significant new license deal means that Sony Music Entertainment will now represent Warner Music Group’s releases in India, Sri Lanka and other countries which are part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Warner Music has one of the biggest catalogs in the world including huge names like Led Zeppelin (pictured above), Pink FloydMadonnaEric Clapton, The Eagles, Johnny CashColdplay, The Doors and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Denis Handlin, Chairman and CEO (Australia and New Zealand), President (Asia), Sony Music said of the new deal, “We are delighted to represent Warner’s music catalogue for the Indian and SAARC market. This is one of the fastest growing and exciting music markets in the world and India in particular has huge digital market opportunities. We have great plans to ensure that Warner Music’s remarkable catalogue reaches out to the vast array of existing and emerging music fans in that region.”

India is home to more than 1.2 billion people. And that’s not even including the rest of the SAARC: all told, the population is over 1.6 billion. That’s the largest market in the world. Can you imagine? This opens up 1.6 billion new customers for Sony and Warner.

Indeed, President (India and Middle East), Sony Music, Shridhar Subramaniam made no secret of the multinational corporation’s plans for global domination. “We are committed to aggressively push Warner[‘s] catalogue and new releases… We look to becoming [the] largest player in international music.”

By Katherine Pollock

And So I Watch You From Afar make Southeast Asian debut in Singapore

Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA) has just announced their debut show in Southeast Asia, to be held in Singapore on 28 February.

The four-piece from Belfast is one of Ireland’s most beloved alternative musical outfits, receiving overwhelming critical acclaim and accolades for their dynamic post-rock and trademark guitar riffs.

Forming in 2005, they have released three EPs and three albums to date, also touring at an unparalleled pace for over five years building a legion of fans around the world from Belarus to China, and most recently, India.

In the band’s latest record, All Hail Bright Futures, there is a new colour scheme in place: new textures, emotions, sounds and voices — a positive uplift that more closely matches the euphoria the Northern Ireland quartet has been instilling in audiences through their music in a live setting.

All Hail Bright Futures is ASIWYFA’s first recording done as a three-piece following the departure of Tony Wright. They will head back out on the road as a four-piece with their new, full-time member Niall Kennedy on guitar and perform songs from the new album — their boldest statement yet — that states a renewed case for a magnetizing band at their best.

And So I Watch You From Afar
with sub:shaman
Friday, 28 February 2014
$45 (early-bird), $55 (regular)

Tickets are available now.

By Melissa Yong

James Blake cancels Beijing show, raises eyebrows

UK musician James Blake has just announced the cancellation of his show in Beijing next January.

The Mercury Prize-winning producer originally had a five-date Asian tour planned for next year in the lead up to his appearances at Laneway Festival Singapore and Auckland.

Now, even the fate of his Shanghai date just two days before Beijing remains uncertain.

Promoters have cited difficulties in obtaining the proper permits for Blake to perform in the country, though there could very well be more to the story

By Melissa Yong