08 March 2018

Flux Us Record Shop SG Recent Mentions...

More than thirteen years ago, the impulsive author of this blog set up a hole-in-a-wall record shop in Singapore with his partner-in-crime, Harold Seah. Situated on the top floor of the still-standing Peninsula Shopping Centre in town, it was supposed to be a hole-in-the-wall operation. We wanted to sell stuff which were not carried by all, if not most other local record shops here (yes,there were quite a lot back then; and we stocked quite a fair bit of vinyl too, before the mini-renaissance of vinyl in the recent decade).

Then we started hosting in-store gigs for musician friends and friends of friends on the suggestions of our friends who helped much in the set-up of the shop (who chipped in in terms of design work, paint job, manning the store behind the counter, running the in-store gigs and so forth). Jazkamer, Lucas Abela, Zai Kunning, Kevin Guoh, Leslie Low, Goh Lee Kwang, Lawrence English (I might have misremembered some and left out some here...).

We also did a gig at the Victoria Theatre thanks to our friend who was a manager there which hosted the NZ musicians Antony Milton and Birchville Cat Motel.

We made many new friends and deepened existing friendships. It was, as the cliche goes, a trip...

Recently there were two mentions of this modest operation of us in two quite different contexts. The first was related to the death of Jóhann Jóhannsson's death. Our friend, musician Ricks Ang paying a tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson which he started off with where he first heard the music of this musician

The second mention is part of the liner notes to the recent release of another two of our friends, musicians Lasse Marhaug and Yuen Chee Wai.  Support them and buy a copy... good stuff there. Yuen, by the way, was the designer behind our store logo, flyers, posters and visuals. 

Brings back some memories... 

Image result for yuan chee wai lasse lp

18 December 2017

Z'EV & Sunny Murray R.I.P.

Another year, another passing of the old avant-guards. Two influential and vital artists who happened to be in the field of rhythms passed on within days of each other's departures.

First, Sunny Murray, who was one of the key percussionists, who revolutionised and liberated the sense of time and movement in jazz back in the 1960s and continued to exert an undeniable impact on jazz and many forms of modern music genres. In the company of illustrious giants like Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, Murray's pulses were integral to the modern music.

Image result

Next, Z'EV, who had always been associated with the early Industrial music movement but he was more. A poet, a writer, a modern composer, field recordist and a polymath. When I first got hold of his seminal anthology, 
1968-1990: One Foot In The Grave
 back in the early 2000s, I was deeply shocked and moved by his wealth of ideas and creativity exhibited in the plethora of projects he was in since the 1970s. By turns esoteric, expansive, spiky, inquisitive and sensitive, he continued this relentless creativity of his up to his last days.

Image result for z'ev

27 November 2017

Best of 2017

A year of nonsense and intolerable global happenings... musically it has also been lacklustre but a few releases captured my audial attention to make this year bearable...

Keiji Haino/Jim O'Rourke/Oren Ambarchi - This Dazzling, Genuine "Difference" Now Where Shall It Go?

 Image result for haino o'rourke ambarchi dazzling
Damien Dubrovnik - Great Many Arrows

Image result for damien dubrovnik great many arrow

Run The Jewels - 3

 Image result for run the jewels 3

Bjork - Utopia

Image result for bjork utopia

Die Krupps - Stahlwerk Requiem


Godflesh - Post Self

Image result for godflesh post self

Jasss - Weightless

Image result for jasss weightless

My Top 3:

3. Tanya Tagaq - Retribution

Image result for tanya tagaq retribution

2. Converge - The Dusk In Us

 Image result for converge the dusk in us

1. Pan Daijing - Lack

Image result for pan daijing lack pan

These are my two favourite record labels for the past, maybe, 18 months or so?

Buh Records (Peru)

Modern Sky Records (China)

Re-issues of the Year:
3. Brother Ah
Image result for brother ah reissues

Image result for brother ah reissues

Brother Ah- Sound Awareness

2. Lou Reed
Image result for lou reed rca box

1. Cosey Fanni Tutti
Image result for cosey fanni tutti time to tell

1. Husker Du
Image result for husker du box

09 October 2017

AMM's Lou Gare, RIP

Image result for lou gare photo

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...

Image result for holger czukay

and Grant Hart from Hüsker Dü

Image result for grant hart

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

Image result for wormrot

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...

Image result for wormrot

16 April 2017

Mika Vainio RIP

Image result

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.