Saturday, January 05, 2008
CONCAVE SCREAM- Erratic CD(Springroll Creative Entertainment Agency Pte Ltd 1997)
--sojourner at 7:08 AM
I'm sure I will get railed for suggesting this album as emo but that is aphorism. Intense ardor of emotion is exuded from here like a broken man cut adrift and drowned in drama, in my word, the true emo before the current swank. I am a very big fan of this amazing album because they have managed to create very personal music that stimulates every point of palpitations on your temperamental humoric territories with nothing but pure emotions. “Erratic” according to the band is odd, irregular, uneven, eccentric; following an irregular course according to Concave Scream's dictionary. However, the band did not fall victim to the old sophomorism syndrome after the hugely successful debut and instead they reinvented the old wheel for a ride of their lifetime. Much has been praised about this album, simply because like all great works of art, it inspires many reactions. My reaction is that this album proved that Concave Scream had transcended Singaporean music to higher plateaus, marking the passing of a “rock like our heroes” era into the “make our own music shine” era. Make no mistake, “Erratic” can only be performed by Concave Scream and it's not easy to drop comparisons anymore, where I am tempted to throw U2 and New Model Army out of the window. Because this is simply Concave Scream where it stands.
“Erratic”, how appropriately named. To err is human, and this album is too human. No quaint adventure into surrealism or high-minded spiritual poetry, this work speaks to you soul baring in your face matter-of-factly from the implicit lyrics to the heartfelt and raw edgy passionate dark atmospheric and gritty melancholic music that really drips with so much emotions that make one fall to his knees. Seriously this album is best enjoyed on your knees because you will quiver the moment the opener “Caged” wrench your heart into strips with its extremely dolorous guitar riff played by the legendary Pann. One thing that also comes immediately to mind is how incredible the production actually sounds. The punching metallic guitar sound and the powerful drum wave runs with extreme clarity and heaviness, accentuated by the dark rumbling bass. After immersing in the powerful texture and the agony of the wailing lead guitar the tortured vocals of Sean broke into the soundpicture.. “tonight ends too late”, setting open the pandora box of misery that follows throughout the course of the album. The sheer engagement of the music is like a key that fits one's afflicted heart making for a really spine-chilling shudder.
The metallic background of Concave Scream (especially Pann since he originally came from a death metal outfit Silent Sorrow) shines on the second track “In Your Face” which is nothing less than in your face in every literal sense of the word. There is enough moment on this track with its punishing riff execution chugging heaviness. Confrontational and anguished. Next comes the moment, the legendary cult number “Driven” which is a very sad ballad played to mid-tempo. I cannot remember how many times I've played this song to death because every moment of it is pure genius. I'm sure when Concave Scream penned this they would have realized that this is a definite hit material. I really felt tempted to drop a Police and U2 reference here but I shall keep my mouth shut (or my fingers away) for a while. The haunting rhythm is laidback and gloomy at the same time, like picturing yourself driving all alone on the highway. This song may be written as something simple like suffering a breakup but the nuances and accents really makes a good suffer. One of the best track ever that got Concave Scream very famous.
“Shattered” is a creepy gloomy number played with sedated repetition of dissonant notes played on acoustic guitar that gets sadder nearing its climax, joined by funereal violin line that accentuates the darkness and the wistful harmonization of vocals. Concave Scream can really play some of the darkest, saddest music and if you want more of the sad acoustic guitar driven suicidal folk ballads you can also find them on “Fade”, “Grey” and “Hush”. “State” is a more upbeat atmospheric rock song with a more dreamy edge, with airy modulated phaser guitar rhythm and a hypnotic drum pattern. Other songs which follows similar patterns are “Shallow Water” and “Gone”. “Down” like “In Your Face” is another more metallic song on “Erratic” but while the former is angry, this track paints a picture of fiery dread, with its cascading doom metal notes. Some of the other raging metal tracks are “Manipulator” and “Prey” which has a very interesting horror soundtrack influenced intro.
Really, every Concave Scream tracks are masterfully crafted, memorable and proficiently executed. But the band gets its biggest prize for having found their own sound. Every Concave Scream songs I noted have those really brilliant lead guitars that play creative melodies (and amazing fret tappings) that transcends above the mundane nature of many standard rock bands, exploring unconventional scales that seamlessly meld into the emotive rhythm guitars. And those painful tortured vocals, effortlessly hitting the right notes at the right change of temperament in the flow of the album. I can't say enough how much I love this album. “Erratic”, like many Concave Scream titles are unfortunately out of print and very rare, and to date I don't see any effort by record companies reissuing these monumental albums for the sake of common decency. Thankfully, the band managed to outlive the common destiny of many dead Singaporean bands with their deserving longevity in the local music scene (if there is a scene at all).