Home Club: This is the end, beautiful friend

Jim Morrison sings, “this is the end, beautiful friend” on the classic track ‘The End’, and these are the words that Home Club owner Roy Ng has left us with, following the announcement that after nearly 10 years, the venue will  be closing its Doors (ha).

The song pretty much encapsulates the whole situation perfectly, as the venue has been a labour of love right from the start, “our elaborate plans, the end“.

Arguably standing ground as one of the few and longest-standing venues in Singapore to bring live music to  us, the venue has played host to a number of our most memorable shows over the years, including controversial Canadian electronic musician Peaches, Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, experimental glitch artist Baths, and all-round weirdo Mac DeMarco to name a few, and more recently, the Blue Hour Sessions in collaboration with longstanding local music programme Identite.

The announcement of the club’s closure however, doesn’t come as a total surprise, given that Home Club’s in-house programming has been relatively sparse in recent months (and some may even say “uninspired” for years). It’s hard to tell whether this stems from punters’ lack of interest in supporting live music, or the fact that it may just be easier to simply settle for the catering of external events — a catch-22 either way you look at it, really. External factors have surely not made it easy either, considering the difficulties we face in the current state of our music scene.

Home Club will now be transformed into yet another ’boutique’ dance spot, resulting in the blaring of overplayed drivel, muffled beats, and D-grade cover bands that can be heard on an evening stroll along Clarke Quay. Shame.

The sad reality is that we have almost come to expect these closures. The Pigeonhole on Duxton Road, despite persistent crowd-funding efforts, was forced to shut down in December 2012; just last July, probably the city’s only truly underground (i.e. perfectly scungy) bar and sometimes-venue, Night & Day, also closed its doors for good.

Most recently, Broadcast HQ in Little India was another piece to fall in this looming domino effect. Although short-lived, the venue showed great potential, however, they were never even given a chance to find their feet due to preposterous licensing restrictions — a massive hinderance to the progression of our music scene.

The closure of Home Club may leave many misty-eyed, but even more so, we are curious to see how things pan out without it: what does this loss mean in the grand scheme of things? Where do promoters put on shows? How about local bands, where do they perform?

Having said that, not all is lost.  With the opening of Pink Noize on North Bridge Road in March, and with recent renovations at BluJaz’s third floor, we see that there are still people dedicated to fighting it out.

RIP Home Club.

by Ale Launech

Anechois – Circles

Circles, as the name suggests, is in many ways geometrically inspired: repeating sequences, tessellating guitar lines, elliptical time signatures form Anechois’ bordering-on obsessive brand of progressive rock. It is a beautifully concise record, in that not a single note, beat or word appears excessive.

In this seven-track EP, released for Lomography’s Blue Hour Sessions, Anechois seems to be seeking a sense of clarity above all – instead of obscuring or obfuscating, as is the temptation for many technically sophisticated bands, the songs are illuminatingly transparent. The acoustic guitar figures, especially in ‘Emma’, sound especially blithe and pure; set against a susurrus of synths, they break forth in simple and liberated joy. There is, however, an undercurrent of pensive awareness, a vague sense of fleeting: a lyric in ‘Reverse’ goes, ‘If only I could see your smile, it hides when the dawn breaks.’

Anechois maintains an acute grasp of balance throughout, with vocals that are sparsely spaced, amidst dense and thickening textures. The standout track ‘Thumbprints’, is driven by a rhythmic, punctuating bass, which builds up to the climax of the EP – a beatific brilliance of sound that is fully and suddenly unleashed. The vocals of frontman Haziq echo resoundingly. The effect is incredibly cinematic; it’s easy to lose yourself in its midst.

The songs are lyrically fragmented, terse and vague. There’s some sense of contemplation, as if one were observing the world from a distance, a detached abstractedness. There are some meaningful turns of phrase: ‘We are running around in circles, but we barely reach the surface’ in the titular track, hints at the meaninglessness, or circularity, of routine, which possibly is the very essence of the EP.

This third EP from Anechois seems in some way to reflect the raw, pure side of the band, capturing a touching honesty that is more apparent than in their previous releases. It takes several listens to fully appreciate their remarkable technique and skill, so effortlessly rendered; there is also a meticulous attention to detail throughout. This is a record that deserves to be put on repeat.

Listen to: ‘Emma’, ‘Thumbprints’, ‘Circles’

Thumbprints:

By Li Shuen Lam

Blue Hour Sessions: The burning flair of 7nightsatsea

OS: Many instrumental bands work closely with visual artists for their live shows. What do you think of this? Complementary, or distracting to the music?
7nightsatsea: We think it’s definitely complementary. In a way, our music provides these visuals with energy and feeling, bringing them to life, like a ‘soundtrack’ of some sort. There’s a certain duality to it: these visuals give the story, and our music breathes emotion into it. As an instrumental band, it’s a little harder to connect with the audience because other bands usually have lyrics that people can relate to and sing along with — we don’t. So having things like visuals during our live sets definitely helps stimulate the connection between us, our music and the crowd.

You’ve collaborated with a number of musicians since forming not too long ago. How do you work with them, piecing all the different sounds together?
It’s been awesome to say the least, really. It’s exciting on so many levels, to be able to bring in other musicians and to have their input on things. It’s not the sort of thing where we ask them to come in and play a certain part in a specific way to add on to the song. We really do encourage them to bring whatever they have to the table, and just jam along to our songs. After all, that’s what music’s about — expression. It’s so interesting to see their takes and ideas on our music; it’s just invigorating to have fresh suggestions and to work from completely different angles.

Being strictly instrumental, how do you keep things fresh amongst the many other instrumental bands?
That was something this band sought to strive for since the beginning — having an identity. There are so many great instrumental bands around, so it’s really just a matter of experimenting and working to come up with new ideas.

Musically, we’ve always tried to step out of our comfort zones, not to be scared of taking that leap of faith. We always try to come up with ideas that haven’t been done before, but at the same time we reel everything in with the ‘7nights flair’, as we like to call it, just to make sure that it doesn’t get too confusing.

You put up some pretty energetic shows. Describe the ultimate show of your dreams.
It’s not forced or anything, we just like to let the music take control of us. Honestly, that’s hard to describe. At this point, we’re just humbled that people take interest in our music and actually turn up for our shows! Of course, we’re all dreamers in some way. I guess the ultimate show of our dreams would be in a room full of people letting loose and going as crazy as we do on the stage. Just being free and letting the music take over.

What is the ideal set-up for listening to your music; how would you like people to best enjoy your music?
Keeping an open mind throughout, definitely. We like to think that our music provides the canvas, but our listeners paint their own picture of it.

We’ve always designed our songs in such a way that you can connect to it on an emotional level. Just let loose and let it take you on a ride.

How do you feel about working with Heider of SSYSTM? What can we expect from Saturday’s show?
Heider’s a really good buddy of ours; we’ve worked with him before so we have a lot of trust in him and what he does. He’s massively talented and his creativity just speaks for itself in all his works. We love him and we’ll always be appreciative of what he’s done for this band.

As for this Saturday’s show, I guess you’ll just have to come down and see for yourself now, won’t you?

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By Jared Rezel

Lomography Blue Hour Sessions
with Tiramisu, .gif, and 7nightsatsea
Lomography Gallery Store
Saturday, 23 November
7pm
FREE

Blue Hour Sessions: The unknown force of Tiramisu

OS: You guys have been around for more than a decade and it’s clear that you’ve left a mark on the current indie scene in Singapore. How do you think it’s changed over the past decade or so? 
Rizman: It has definitely changed tremendously — from the mindset, to the venues, and to the audience. With the Internet, music is so easily accessible, compared to the days where we had to find various ways of discovering music and bands we were interested in. Mixtapes were one of those options which allowed us to learn about new music, as well as reading fanzines about local bands, as there weren’t many gigs back then. In those days, we had The Substation, the World Trade Centre amphitheatre, and of course the polytechnic gig circuits. We tended to meet the same people at every gig — I guess that was when the community was tighter.

Perhaps now, the scene is more progressive and there are more venues to play at. The arrival of social media makes it so convenient that it is becoming a challenge to attract people to attend gigs. Nevertheless, the scene is blooming and the fact that you can see more young people forming new bands is very heartening. In our hearts, we know that the future of local music is not bleak, but full of excitement and surprises.

You’re one helluva showman on stage. Are there any particular performers who have inspired this in you?
I grew up listening to a lot of music, but I am truly inspired by Hafiz of Stomping Ground; when I first saw him on stage, I was totally blown away by his stage presence, it was a life-changing experience for me. I realised how the stage can be a space of catharsis for the performer.

Apart from that, I was also into Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop, King Diamond, Ronny James Dio, Mike Patton, David Bowie, Sudirman Hj Arshad, David Byrne, and many other eccentric singers along the way. I am an amalgamation of all these influences, and I am combining all of them to become a brand new animal on stage.

Well, some would even go as far as to say that rather than performing straight up ‘music music’, Tiramisu are instead, performance artists who incorporate music into their shows. How true is this, and how thin is the line between showmanship and performance art?
We have been doing this for years, as it is our comfort zone, and in our world it is the norm. We are just a group of happy musicians who love dressing up on stage and appearing ‘out of this world’ when presenting our music. Perhaps, at the same time, we are blurring the boundary between musicality and showmanship. We embrace idiocy in our outlook, not as clowns but as agents in the modification of lives. We love the notion of the audience laughing with or laughing at us, as it makes the world a less cruel place to live in.

You don’t play live too often, and it seems that every show you announce becomes a pretty highly anticipated one. Is there a reason you choose to gig so sparsely?
We have been really selective in playing live partly due to our working schedules, most of us are tied up with our jobs. The effort it takes to get people together is the most difficult part of it all, but we consciously try to make every live show we play as memorable as possible.

What do you hope for people to take away from your live shows?
Every Tiramisu show is experiential, and we make it a point for the audience to get a ‘WTF’ feeling when they leave the space. Confused yet fulfilled and entertained in the strangest way possible. Like being touched by an unknown force and acknowledging the sensation at the same time.

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By Melissa Yong

Lomography Blue Hour Sessions
with Tiramisu, .gif, and 7nightsatsea
Lomography Gallery Store
Saturday, 23 November
7pm
FREE

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

OS: You’ve described that .gif was meant to be an outlet for “freedom and respite” from your other musical endeavours – did you ever think it would receive as much attention as it has?
.gif: To be honest, we haven’t really been keeping track. Earmilk was a really nice surprise, though, and so was Lomography’s interest in us for Blue Hour Sessions! If not for them, this EP wouldn’t even have happened ’cause we have too short an attention span to conceptualise anything beyond random singles.

Listening to your music, it’s hard to believe that it’s really just the two of you, Din and Weish. Which music power couple do you guys admire?
If you’re talking romantic couples, Matt & Kim. We really admire their DIY style. Otherwise, it’s a tie between Crystal Castles, Daft Punk, and Tegan & Sara.

Where did the name “.gif” come from? If you could steal any band name, what would it be? 
Well, we play a lot with loops and imagery in our songs, and gifs are essentially image loops, so we thought it was kinda apt. As for band names, we’d say Peter Bjorn and John, so that people would come to our show expecting a Swedish trio but instead see a Chinese girl and a Malay guy. But mainly because we really like the sound of the word “Bjorn”. It’s very calming.

Name one band that .gif would love to collaborate with… and what you imagine it would sound like.
Sleep Easy aka Isa Ong from Amateur Takes Control and Pleasantry. Well, okay, that’s kind of cheating ’cause we’ve actually talked about forming a trip-hop band before. So, we imagine it’d sound like trip-hop. But otherwise, we’ve always admired The Analog Girl‘s work and we imagine it’d sound pretty crazy if we worked with her – darker, and trippier…

Lastly, it’s been a pretty incredible year of music so far. Album of the year for you both?
We couldn’t agree, so here’s two: Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara (Din’s), and Enter 4 by Hjaltalin (Weish’s). We initially both went “Alt-J!” simultaneously, but realised later it was released in 2012…

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?

Blue Hour Sessions: .gif – From synth-pop to trip-hop?
By Nigel Lopez

Lomography Blue Hour Sessions
with Tiramisu, .gif, and 7nightsatsea
Lomography Gallery Store
Saturday, 23 November
7pm
FREE

Lomography’s Blue Hour Sessions to put spotlight on Singapore music and art scene

Lomography Singapore has just announced the Blue Hour Sessions, a 6-part series featuring collaborations with local bands and graphic artists with an aim to document ground-breaking work in the local music scene.

Drawn from the French expression l’heure bleue, ‘The Blue Hour’ refers to the time before nightfall when the sun slips from sight and the sky falls into a deep blue – traditionally, this hour of day is seen to hold special significance because of the possibilities for unexpected collisions, liaisons and delirium.

From 13 November to 14 April, the Blue Hour Sessions will take place on the last Saturday of the month, with each session turning the spotlight on collaborative efforts between some of the most exciting bands and graphic artists of our generation.

Expect live sets with visual and audio installations, as well as the launch of special edition EPs (limited to a first-run of 36 copies) featuring rough cuts, unreleased demos, analogue prints, and zine artwork by the bands and graphic artists themselves.

Other Sounds is proud to be official online media partner of the the Blue Hour Sessions as it aims to put the spotlight back on local bands and graphic artists.

Blue Hour Sessions schedule

23 November
Tiramisu x fFurious
.gif x M-D-R-N
7nightsatsea x Heider of SSYSTM x Allison Marie Low

21 December
MUON x William Chan of TMRRW
Bani Haykal x Kristal Melson x SUSEJ

18 January
HEIZENBERG x Brandon Tay of Syndicate
Dream State Vision x StudioKALEIDO

22 February
sub:shaman x Marc Gabriel Loh
Space Days x Afiq Omar of Syndicate

29 March
Pleasantry x FROMPAMM
ANECHOIS x Izyanti Asa’ari x Wu Jun Han
Ellipsis x Ban-Fam

3 May
Astreal x MAKE
MONSTER CAT x DO NOT DESIGN x Afiq Omar of Syndicate
Chöd x Philipp Aldrup
Zirconia (feat. X’ho + Yeow of Zircon Lounge) x WHITELABEL x Lasse Marhaug

Update (17/12/13):

The Blue Hour Sessions exhibition and live showcases will now be held at Home Club:

27 December
MUON x William Chan of TMRRW
Dream State Vision x StudioKALEIDO

17 January
HEIZENBERG x Brandon Tay of Syndicate
Bani Haykal x  Kristal Melson

21 February
sub:shaman x Marc Gabriel Loh
Space Days x Afiq Omar of Syndicate

28 March
Pleasantry x FROMPAMM
ANECHOIS x Izyanti Asa’ari x Wu Jun Han
Ellipsis x Ban-Fam

2 May
Astreal x MAKE
MONSTER CAT x DO NOT DESIGN x Afiq Omar of Syndicate
Chöd x Philipp Aldrup

*Dates and line-ups are subject to change

By Katherine Pollock