09 October 2017

AMM's Lou Gare, RIP

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1939 - 2017

Another very important musical figure passed on recently: Lou Gare of seminal free music ensemble, AMM.

AMM have been a very important node in my journey through the multiple fields of experimental/avant garde music for the past two decades. First hearing their "laminar" (as coined by Evan Parker, another free music great) music in the form of their mid 1970s duo album, To Hear And Back Again was a head scratching but deeply enthralling experience. It was either 1998 or 1999 when I heard it. Needless to say it confirmed my resolve to look for other albums from the group, especially their first, AMM Music and the sort-of career retrospective, Laminal.

The rapid passing of many such pioneers in recent years means that we need the next generations to step out and up. John Butcher and Seymour Wright keep it up and I hope to see more such talented artists in the years to come.

17 September 2017

Holger Czukay (CAN) & Grant Hart (Hüsker Dü) R.I.P. and some humble and humbling thoughts

Two great, visionary bands, from different decades but influential nonetheless, lost a member each from their esteemed rhythm section. Holger Czukay from the Can...

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and Grant Hart from Hüsker Dü

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I do not think I have much to add to the torrent of words in honour of them since the news broke of their passing. It just that my recent posts consist of obituaries of such. As a counterpoint that, I have not really raved about newer heroic acts in this space. Either I am getting old or there is a need to rethink what it means to be exciting new music in the current era.

I am still pretty stoked about Jasss or  Let's Eat Grandma in recent months but my main strokes of satisfaction or excitation come mainly from revisiting older but still ignored stuff from the jazz, free improv, extreme metal, tape scene and modern classical fields. When I receive the latest issue of The Wire, I usually zoom in at the Boomerang and Print Run sections rather than the general reviews. Anyone wants to enlighten me on this?

29 June 2017

Wormrot... Blasting around the Globe

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The band that finally does Singapore proud? First SG act to appear at one of the biggest music festivals in the world, Glastonbury? Ironic that it takes an underground, alternative band to achieve that when slam dancing, the hyper-energetic outburst inspired by music like this, was banned on the island like 24 years ago?

Grindcore with a punk rock swagger underlining the trio gives the band the extra ummmph to their music. A music genre which started with hardcore punk, crust punk, anarcho-punk and a good dash of metallic-ism thrown in will never be recognised as apathetic, bland mainstream concoctions. Hope they will be around long.

Go here to see a video posted by their record label, Earache Records... yes, that Earache Records...

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16 April 2017

Mika Vainio RIP

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Mika and Ilpo of Pan Sonic (or Pansonic before the Japanese corporation threatened to sue and they had to effect a name-change) came to Singapore 16 years ago. My friends and I took up the challenge which they posed and posted in the The Wire magazine about a world tour to little-travelled-to places around the world, which we guessed then Singapore, qualified.

So the whole hassle of emailing and finalising the logistic side of things like lodging and venue and marketing and what have you started once they gave us the ok about 10 weeks before the actual gig date at a dodgy little second floor venue called Insomnia in Bugis.

Stoic and often just in his own zone, Mika came across as deep in thought or introverted or maybe just trying to get over his jet lag after flying hours from Europe to Asia. But I remember a conversation outside the gig venue after they had checked it out before the gig the next day. We were just talking about the usual music geek talk when Ilpo, his partner in Pan Sonic, and the tour manager more so, were yakking away. However his eyes lit up when we mentioned Keiji Haino. He became more animated and he and Ilpo showed keen interest to meet him and possibly collaborate with Haino-san in the near future. The outcome was released a few years later by Blast First Records. 

He is still a unique artiste, solo or with Ilpo or with other collaborators during his life or after. RIP.

27 February 2017

PSF Records founder Hideo Ikeezumi RIP

One of the greatest record labels of all time, PSF Records, lost its irreplaceable founder,Hideo Ikeezumi.

Without him, I would not have discovered the world filled with Keiji Haino/Fushitsusha/Nijiumu/Aihiyo, High Rise/Musica Transonic, Acid Mothers Temple, Kaoru Abe, Masayuki Takayanagi, Ghost, Gaseneta, Kan Mikami, & so many more.

Went to PSF Record Shop in 2012. Tucked in a old building, knocking on the door before I was let in. It's like a door through a secret pathway to a cosy club away from the big bad world out there. But the big bad world got to it though, barely a year later.

Junko, by the way, was in the shop when I was there. Still remember what I bought there and Hideo gave me a bit of discount. Though we could not really communicate much with his limited spoken English and my even more little Japanese.


14 January 2017

Mark Fisher RIP...

A very important thinker, writer and educator had decided to end his life- Mark Fisher. An ex-editor of The Wire magazine and one of the main movers behind acclaimed new publishing imprint, Repeater Books, he has influenced many with wit, passion, intellectual rigour and insight about the contemporary conditions of the much dreaded neo- liberal capitalism. I just wish he were still around to fight on and inspire more with more of his writings and presence. Let us honour his life, his ideas and his convictions by fighting on. RIP.

29 December 2016

REWIND 2016...

2016 has been a bad year for music, politics, and many other things. With David Bowie's last opus a great back to form and topping many year-end charts, it smacks of necrophilia somehow, though no disrespect to the man who dropped a platter which, in many ways, provided a grand and apt coda to his life as an artist for the past half-century. The corresponding bleakness of the state(s) of the affairs around the world across especially the two big areas which mean much to me (music and politics), is perhaps a sign o' the times (RIP, Prince). Mayhaps, music might not be a force to change and shape the zeitgeist like some earlier foregone eras, but at least, it reminds us of the situ we are in and will be in for quite awhile...

Here are my top releases of 2016: