Wednesday, November 17, 2004
THE PAGANS- Stereokineticspiraldreams CD
(Tim Records/Odyssey Music Pte Ltd 1993)
The ethereal, airy voice evokes a Bilinda Butcher moment in an identifiable swirl of surrealistic art-noise, only that Morris is very much a male vocalist in the lineup. Well, for sure this "Stereokineticspiraldreams" is intended for a beautiful confusion, fury on collision course with seductive drift, an androgynous gesture of sexual rush of sound. The Pagans is perhaps one of a kind in Singapore, the few dreamy shoe-gazers that actually work fine in the not so poetic settings on the Singaporean shores. The band members were widely renowned in the local scene as prima donnas, and some people unwittingly dropped a Suede comparison but these guys are our very own rock dandies, with a well baked Singaporean accent to boot.
This CD is the debut, and the very last we're ever going to hear from this unique Singaporean dream-meisters. The CD looks as impressive as the band itself. Packaged with lush plastic sleeves folded over the booklet, with drawn psychedelic symmetry, this is a perfect dream treatment for a perfect rock band. Such designs can easily make the most unforgiving listeners swoon to its sinful aesthetics. "Prog-Rock Space Opera" takes lead in the trip, cascading phenomenally extraterrestrial guitar sounds over an impossibly dense soundscape in the parade of anxious drum beats. The monumental bassline and the second guitar complemented the contorted leads, so much so that Kevin Shield's presence is felt. But hey, what we've got here is dear Morris, Edward, Rick and Edwin. Well, Morris losed himself in this blurry orchestra of sound and he never once oozed a drop of machismo, because he preferred tip-toeing through the clouds.
When "Sandy Crush", "?" and "TV Babe" (this one goes to Jacqueline Meishi Schatz? Where is she now?) comes along, more subdued rhythm takes form and licked through fragile melodies with a romantic echo. Almost elegant, glittering with angel dust, The Pagans succeeded in pushing the delicacy of the songs with a non foreboding crush, that is heavy nevertheless. They traversed the same Utopian realms as My Bloody Valentine, but played a different kind of heavenly pipe. The urgent rush in other songs like "DHL" and "Precious 7" ride the same titillating waves of other shoegazers like Ride, with showy drumfills hitting each climax in the pulses.
There are additional materials in the CD to please. The last few tracks are taken from their cassette EP titled "Hideaway" from '92 (or fondly dubbed the tortoise shell cassette). The music here is less sublime, holds a better clarity, and some of it is way cooler and slicker than the full length, especially in the weary torch song "Gone", a melancholic crestfallen pavement walk with a touch of the detached British cool in the dissonance of the melodies.
The Pagans was a band that lived a bigger than life presence, and were almost set poised to deliver paradise with their otherworldly symphony, but their presence are never to be felt in the radiowaves, or anywhere in a closed radar range. What a god-damned pity, because this band can serve detractors of Singapore music a listless shoe-gazing.
--sojourner at 5:55 AM