Wednesday, June 28, 2006
STONED REVIVALS- Golden Love Songs From The Evil Island of The Handsome Cannibals CD
(Music Street 1999)
The late 90s had its little irksome retro renaissance; those tortoiseshells, bellbottoms and ugly dyeprints made a brief comeback, and poofed away faster than rapping "depeche mode" in one breath. Surely this is forgotten history as inconsequential as Fandi Ahmad. "Golden Lovesongs From The Evil Island of the Handsome Tropical Cannibals" is much more of a mouthful and while this is not exactly Wednesday night Mambo material, Stoned Revivals was actually quite the stoner thing revived. Quirky cheeseballs were the game these stoners played when Singapore indies lost its special flavour to the alternative flu, having another kindred Force Vomit as an equal standing honorary mention (Esam surfed here every now and then). The handsome ones were actually veterans of the local scene, made up of Esam (vocals/guitars), Kamal (bass), Syed Ahmad (drums/guitars) and syed munir (wah wah and the sexy Fender Rhodes) and they also love to go by the pseudonyms Mc Skunk, Iron Lung, Dr Blue and Mr Moon. The small parts that make up the repertoire includes guest musicians doing all stuffs from flugel horn and trumpets to turntables and didjeridu (for the special mojo). Where did this band stand then? They stood where the car chase left off with "Spanish Fly", the opening instrumental that has the boogie woogie kicking off. The band is indeed high on blaxploitation, kinky afros notwithstanding to complete the bling.
Musically I would be tempted to call them eclectic, but they pretty much stick to the funkalicious formula, cooking up the sleazy soulful love potion 69 in the veins of Isaac Hayes, Kool and The Gang, Curtis Mayfield and the rest of everything cool and not square from the 70s. Almost everything on the album is blaxploitation to the max, maybe except for the vocals, which unfortunately is stuck in the modernity down to the Madchester inspired whimper. The track "Loose Boogie" in fact hearkens back to Isaac Hayes belting out lush sensual soundtrack that evokes Foxy Cleopatra. "Run Ichiban" is the full funk-out, infectious funk licks and a cooler than thou disco vibe, that will surely please fans of Boney M, especially with its stellar cosmokeys. "Traci" is another outstanding number with it's The Ventures and The Shadows based surf riffs gliding up a wave, half expecting to walk and don't run, but this is the damned police car chase for fuck's sake. "Mr Moon's Confusion Groove" is a light refreshingly paced nice guy more in tune with those of Bill Withers and Earth Wind and Fire kind of pulses. The band's other influences came into light with The Door's inspired "Shoe", a great Chakra opener that has the same acid in the veins, "Mondo Magick" in the Stevie Wonders trip and "Stoned Alleycat" is a bossa to the Sade before turning tango!
Their stance is ultimately all thing bluesy, funky, disco, soul and boogie woogie down to its second nature, but there is also too much of a hiphop, bluegrass, freakbeat, rock n'roll and even heavy metal all condensed into this tiny silver platter. Not a boring "yeah yeah yeah" kind of Singaporean rock n'roll. So who says Singaporeans are a boring bunch? Maybe that will depend on one what kind of Singaporeans in question here, but the whole bloody point is: please get this album. There has been no better soundtrack to do the Singaporean Shaft than this marvellously beautiful debut album from Stoned Revivals, and act fast before things get too tribal with The Bushmen (it already did). By the way, this if offtopic but I believe the evil island in the album title is no other place than Singapore. Anyway, to quote an interesting line from the band, "the long overdued album by these self proclaimed tropical cannibals is done, full of pseudo spandex complexities". Haha, well enuff said.
--sojourner at 6:37 AM
Monday, June 26, 2006
Formed in the martian sweatshop in 1991, Pink Elephant lived a rather short but meaninful existence in the ever changing landscape of the Singaporean indie underground. Their presence was like a fresh breath of hope when bands were going stagnant outpacing the blasts or sashaying to the British faggotry because they played in the endearingly dysfunctional offbeat folk fogey way. The lineup of this wonder unit goes like Dennis (drums), Cher Wai (guitars), Clement (guitar, bass, programming and vocals), and Redmund (vocals) and they had their first public showcase with the famous Gang Bang tape compilation of Singaporean indies. In 1992, they released their best effort to date, namely the "18 Minutes In Wonderland" demo, which had earned itself rave reviews in the local column inches. The demo is a mishmash of different influences stemming from their impressionable youth, with strong Bob Dylan super-imposed over beat-happy, note-stringy Shamen, and maybe Morissey singing to Tracy Chapman, or even Jesus and Mary Chain. They had several tracks that just leave one bewildered, like the wonderfully wistful "Gone Forever", the quirky "Surfing Martian", and of course the title track, which echoes folk on acid, or perhaps what they called psychedelic folk. Excellent stuff, albeit a slightly weak production. But Pink Elephant is now more extinct than the bloody Dodo.
--sojourner at 7:42 AM
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Featuring death metal gangsters from Haig Road and Bedok in the rank of Sulaiman (guitars), Roslan (guitar and growls), Zulkifli (bass) and Jumadi (drums), this abomination saw the light of the day from the middle of '88 although from some other sources the inception went as far back as '86. Singapore did have its very fervent followers of metal and hardcore pumping important staples that mould the outcome of the underground. Indeed, music of such genre garnered much better support from local fans than the indies that forever fared steeped deeper in the underground. For that matter, Dread were considered as sort of a cult death metal band based in Singapore, and they were one of the earlier pioneers in the league of Nuctemeron, Anathema, Profancer and Abhorer. They delivered "Awesome Terror" in '89, a tape hissing ear-spliting distortion and mangled noise deathcore with such intense numbers like "Torment, Scream & Death", and "Infernal Bloodlust" influenced by the South American scene. And this hideous noise was made way before bands like Silent Sorrows and Mutation dabbled with technical death. Regardless of the racket, their noise never hit the radiowaves.
--sojourner at 8:56 AM
Although they lived through a rather short existence in the Singaporean underground, they did send a strong ripple of hormonal waves across the island state, cooking up much of the crust in the topical punk arena. Emulating the anti-hero of their personal heroes, they fired up their brand of punk rock by all pariahs Sex Pistols from the old world and The Replacements from the new world alike. Formed in 1988, the lineup consisted of Kow (vocals), Edward (guitars), Adrian (keyboards/vocals), Gallan (bass) and Simon (drums). In that time period, a demo was recorded in 1989, aptly titled "Bathing In The Perspiration of My Ideology", indeed a youthful statement bewildered, inspired and struggling in the big dangerous frontier known as the real world. They quoted influences from Japan, Can, to Riot, Sex Pistols, Jesus and Mary Chain, like almost anything punk and posthumous. Musically, they stick tight to this guaranteed sound of syncopated sing along and melodious punk'd. At the turn of 1989, the band disbanded, followed by a two year hiatus before reshuffling to a new lineup consisting of Desmond (vocals), Razin (guitars), Adrian (bass) and Simon (drums). They bloomed like a radiant flower but wilted and finally faced mortality like any band stuck too much in the formula of sincere rocking.
--sojourner at 7:05 AM