Friday, February 23, 2007

Soundscape #27: Old Skool vs The New

From Tapedeck [do you remember these!?]

Something old, something new. Anything old can be something new and cool again. What would explain our fixation with all things vintage? I think there is this connection in our minds between vintage and unique. I guess, since unique means one, and that vintage probably also means there aren't many around anyways, we might as well make that equation, right?

I've been guilty of it of cos, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over retro phones and radios and tvs etc. But am I really nostalgic? I doubt it. I remember the phones where you have to stick your finger into each of (was it 7?) numbers and pull it all the way round. That was a pain in the ass now, wasn't it? I remember the radio with the big fat knob where you have to manually tune in to a station (let's not even talk about sound quality; you'd be lucky if you can make out anything at all). I remember my uncle adjusting the antenna on our tv set to get TV3, just for variety. The 1001 things we put up with previously will just be inconveniences now. Can you imagine calling the police on that antique phone of yours? No way, you'd probably be dead by the time you get connected via a switchboard. Or not watching Heroes on Starworld!!??

I didn't think so.

I thought for this week's episode it might be interesting to line up some old songs and their respective covers. Which original and which cover do you prefer?

Playlist: (Old Skool)
1. (0:00) Danger Doom - Old Skool (featuring Talib Kweli)(Buy The Mouse And The Mask)
2. (2:38) Modest Mouse - Float On (Good News For People Who Hates Good News)
3. (6:07) The Postal Service - We Will Be Silhouettes (Buy Give Up)
4. (11:05) OMD - If You Leave (Buy The Best Of)
5. (15:33) Phil Collins - Against All Odds
6. (18:57) Beatles - Two Of Us (Buy Let It Be)
7. (22:21) Roxy Music - More Than This (Buy Avalon)

1. (0:00) Centro-Matic - For New Starts (Buy Fort Recovery)
2. (4:45) Ben Lee - Float On
3. (8:49) The Shins - We Will Be Silhouettes
4. (11:50) Nada Surf - If You Leave
5. (16:45) The Postal Service - Against All Odds
6. (21:02) Aimee Mann & Michael Penn - Two Of Us
7. (24:33) Norah Jones - More Than This

*most of the covers are not in albums. Except for Aimee Mann & Michael Penn's Two Of Us which is from the I Am Sam OST.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!

So. Soundscape #26 marks 26 weeks (duh) of churning out tracks to describe many a life's moment. It's been half a year (8/26, I remember) since the idea hit me in the train. I remember being so excited I couldn't wait to get home. As my good friend Brother Isaac says, "Do eeeiittt." The project has become some sort of a filter/screen for me: life is on the other side and what I see through the screen are possibilities and ideas for the project.

While it's been fun almost every single week, the last thing I want is to let everything stagnate till it becomes a drag to come up with fresh ideas. I'm still enjoying it but I'm not going to deny that I have a short attention span (6 months is an awful long time for me) and I am running out of ideas (such is life). I've bought a webspace last december so that more things can be imagined and planned. I'm dragging my feet on the launch cos I'm just so lazy to export the content from here to there. But I will. Soon. I still need a kickstart though, so I've put up a mini-poll in the sidebar on your left. Let me know what you want.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tis Was A Dark And Stormy Night...

Alright so it wasn't storming last night. There were a few drops of rain but nothing major. My friends and I were at the Good Vibrations Festival. We missed most of the acts since we only reached at almost 8 (it started at 4) and half the time we were there, we were either talking to friends and acquaintances (I actually had a long conversation with a stranger I thought was my friend but nevermind about that) or in queues for beer and the toilet. We realised in the end that if we were to make the trek down to civilisation (it's at Fort Canning Park) and buy the beer from 711, it would have been much faster. and cheaper. Bloody bastards selling Heineken for $8 a can! That's crazy! And that crap about checking bags? If only they would!! cos there were bottles and bottles of liquor going round in plastic cups. We felt quite stupid being such obedient robots.

The main highlight of the fest was of course Jurassic 5 and Beastie Boys. Noone needs to pretend they came to watch someone else. Wow. They.Rock. They both have been in the business for a long long time and they still are so enthusiastic, almost proselytising. I've never been into hip-hop and rap so if they can convert me, they can convert anybody. I was jumping and dancing to all the tunes. But sometimes it's really hard when you're 2 millimeters from someone else's sweat and beer breath. Let's just say that it was not a comfortable evening. I made the mistake of wearing jeans when it's a super hot night with what 10000 people all squashed around everyone else. And everyone was drinking copious amounts of alcohol which then resulted in a minefield of bottles and cans. Some idiots were throwing bottles around as well. Glass bottles. There was this ang moh chick next to me who was dancing like a fucking moron with elbows flying everywhere and god, those talons nails!! I would have tried to elbow her back if not for the fact that I fear for my life—she really does look crazymad. And near the end, some guy climbed the rafters onto and above the stage, I guess to get some attention. It took 2 old but remarkably agile security guys to get him down.

I had such a good time last night despite my being a little enochlophobic. But it must be a sign of my advancing age when I practically dragged my two friends out of there to try and get the first cab out back home when it ended.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Soundscape #26: "This Is Chris In The Morning"

Suggestion: Click on play in the video and wait for it to load before watching. Trust me.

This will take you back: Northern Exposure Theme Song

Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure Season 3 Episode 14.

Northern Exposure has a way of making even the most bizzare circumstances seem natural. In that short segment alone, the show makes the flinging of a piano crucial to one's journey of the self and of life. To put it all in context, Maggie's (whose piano was flung) house was (accidentally) burnt down by her mom who came all the way up to Alaska to tell her that she will be divorcing her father. Chris was disappointed to learn that his idea of flinging a cow through the air for art has already been done in Monty Python. "Repetition," he quotes Andy Warhol, "is the death of Art." While each segment may seem disparate and may not end in a beautifully packaged ending as do most sitcoms nowadays, the show more than adequately depicts life's roughened edges.

Each episode in Northern Exposure, through story-and myth-telling, celebrates life as it is, be it beautiful or ugly and grimy. It never panders nor does it ever condescends. It never pretends life is a breeze but it never makes it harder than it has to be. I'm not embarrased to say that every single episode affects me in a very profound way. Not only does each episode challenge my assumptions, biases and preconceptions, it often brings about a new perspective with which I can see life.

The characters, who go through unconventional and sometimes just downright strange events, often see things in such a myriad of ways that it is never boring to hear them expound on any number of subjects, whether you are familiar with the subject at-hand or not. They are erudite but never pedantic. My favourite is of course, the DJ Chris Stevens, who often muses and philosophises on-air in such a real and honest way that one cannot help but wish for his openness of spirit and mind. The show often depicts the search for life's meaning through books, poetry, history, philosophy, history, music, movies, and even food and wine, but in the end, it concludes that the journey itself, not the meaning, is the most important thing of all. Or as Chris will say, "it's the groping, it's the yearning, it's the moving forward."

1. (0:00) The Wedding Present - I'm From Further North Than You (Buy Take Fountain)
2. (3:28) 18th Dye - Easy (& How We Got There First)
3. (8:17) Teenage Fanclub - Take The Long Way Around (Buy Songs From Northern Britain)
4. (11:41) Bonnie Somerville - Winding Road (Buy Garden State OST)
5. (15:08) The Ladybug Transistor - Going Up North (Icicles) (Buy Argyle Heir)
6. (19:10) Sigur Rós - Agætis Byrjun (Buy Agætis Byrjun)
7. (26:45) Portishead - Roads (Buy Dummy)
8. (31:54) Trespassers William - Different Stars (Buy Different Stars)
9. (36:43) Mazzy Star - Flowers In December (Buy Among My Swan)
10. (41:47) Alexi Murdoch - All My Days (Buy Time Without Consequence)
11. (46:42) Bright Eyes - Road To Joy (Buy I'm Wide Awake It's Morning)

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Soundscape #25: For I Have Sworn Thee Fair And Thought Thee Bright, Who Art As Black As Hell, As Dark As Night

Roy Lichtenstein. Hopeless, 1964.

We've all been there. The shock, the disbelief, the heartaches, the sleepless nights, the non-existent appetites, and oh, the things we'd do! It's as if we become a different person when our hearts get broken. We'd lock ourselves in the room, stare at the walls and listen to sad bastard music. Or we'd conjure up countless scenarios where s/he'd beg you to come back (and we'd say no, obviously). We'd do stupid things like hanging around the person's workplace and then running like hell cos s/he might see us. We'd never listen to our friends who try to be there with advice and encouragement. We'd pretend that we are strong enough to handle anything. We'd swing from one extreme emotion to the next, feeling more and more tired with everything.

But after the denial must come the pain. The tears, the very real physical pain in your chest when you wake up, the listlessness. Then the anger. The fault-picking, the incredulity that you've been with someone who's that flawed. You'd rant at anyone who'd listen, each tirade fiercer than the last but ultimately, like a light that's come on, you realise that you are only angry with yourself for being so stupid and so blind. The moment you realise that is the moment the world—that you thought had already come down—comes crashing down.

What trivalises the whole business of heartache is that everytime you survive through one, you'd tell yourself that you will never make the same mistakes again. But of cos, the heart has a memory made of sieve, and we'd do the same thing over and over again. We'd never learn and we'd never remember.

Maybe we don't want to.

1. (0:00) Suede - The Wild Ones (Buy Dog Man Star)
2. (4:40) The Streets - Dry Your Eyes **
3. (9:10) Feist - Let It Die (Buy Let It Die)
4. (12:04) Stars - Calendar Girl (Buy Set Yourself On Fire)
5. (16:12) The Delgados - All You Need Is Hate (Buy Hate)
6. (19:08) Dandy Warhols - We Used To Be Friends (Buy Welcome To The Monkey House)
7. (22:29) The Radio Dept. - I Don't Need Love, I've Got My Band (Buy Pulling Our Weight EP)
8. (25:44) Yo La Tengo - You Can Have It All (Buy And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out)
9. (30:19) Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Buy Substance)
10. (33:45) Morrissey (without The Smiths in this track)- My Love Life (Live at KROQ)
11. (38:01) Damien Rice - 9 Crimes (Buy 9)
12. (41:39) DeVotchKa - How It Ends (Buy Little Miss Sunshine OST)

* I had wanted to add Nine Inch Nails' Hurt into the playlist but couldn't decide between the original or the Johnny Cash cover. Which do you prefer?

Nine Inch Nails - Hurt
Johnny Cash - Hurt

**if you know who the guest vocal is on this track, email me and I will either burn you a cd or upload a zip file of this soundscape for you. Hint: he's played in Singapore.
Wow that was quick. Congrats, Kob, it is indeed Mr Gywneth Paltrow!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Soundscape #24: "The Clocks Are Striking Thirteen"

Dom Dada. Crowd Policing, August 2006.

Even if George Orwell meant it as a piece of fiction, 1984 is a prescient account of a very real loss of privacy in our world today. If you need proof, think of Bush and his "Patriot Act" or the recent outrage that it is apparently not illegal for the Pentagon and CIA to go through the bank and credit records of ordinary American citizens. Mr Dick (head) Cheney tried to defend it by saying that it's "reaffirmed in the Patriot Act" and that "there's nothing wrong with it or illegal." Note how, in the context of the article, that he didn't give any real reason or justification, other than citing the Patriot Act. How is it legal to go through someone's personal information without the person's knowledge, much less approval?

I'm reminded of all those countless murder trials I've watched on TV where a murder weapon or something is not "admissible" in the trial because the officer/whoever found it has conducted an illegal search. You have to wonder how TV gets its inspiration from real life when both worlds are becoming increasingly disparate. Why is it that we are suddenly all guilty until proven innocent? All these laws and rules are suffocating our individual freedoms. There is sure to be a record of everywhere you go and everything you do. If you think about it, the old Police song ("Every breath you take, every step you make, I'll be watching you") is a perfect theme song for Big Brother.

So, what do we do when the world is on a direct flight to hell? Listen to your mom: never pick your nose in public; you'd never know who's watching. And always, always, clear your work pc's cache before you leave cos, you know, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you.

1. (0:00) M83 - Car Chase Terror (Buy Before The Dawn Heals Us)
2. (3:52) Elliott Smith - A Distorted Reality Is Necessity To Be Free (Buy Future Soundtrack For America)
3. (8:15) British Sea Power - Something Wicked (Buy The Decline Of British Sea Power)
4. (11:29) Green Day - Give Me Novacaine (Buy American Idiot)
5. (15:15) The Organ - Brother (Buy Grab That Gun)
6. (19:22) The Thermals - Here's Your Future (Buy The Body The Blood The Machine)
7. (21:46) Arcade Fire - Wake Up (Buy Funeral)
8. (27:20) Manic Street Preachers - If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next (Buy This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours)
9. (32:12) Pavement - Fight This Generation (Buy Wowee Zowee)
10. (36:37) Radiohead - You And Whose Army (Buy Amnesiac)
11. (39:45) Nine Inch Nails - March Of The Pigs (Buy Downward Spiral)
12. (42:43) Interpol - Not Even Jail (Buy Antics)
13. (48:26) We Are Scientists - This Means War (Buy The Great Escape EP)

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