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rock in the fine city
'80s-'90s singapore independent music archives
Saturday, December 26, 2009
VARIOUS ARTISTS- The Substation 10 Years & Counting (Rock The Garden) CD
(The Substation Ltd 2000)

The thunderous clouds are always loud, the lightning a mere symbol to behold. The late Kuo Pao Kun is dearly remembered as a pioneering arts activist who brought The Substation, amongst many of his other contributions (more of theatre), into prominence. Founded in 1990 from a disused PUB power station at Armenian street, this community-funded, non-profit arts centre serve as a platform to nurture local artists for workshops, concerts, exhibitions and lectures, and it became the first and only independent contemporary arts centre. After he passed on, The Substation underwent a major revamp and the memorable colourful courtyard covered with shady trees where local bands once jammed their tunes to impressionable audiences seated and standing everywhere is now sadly turned into a commercial ploy known as Timbre frequented by yuppies and pretentious bourgeois bohemians.

This CD that I am reviewing is The Substation's commemorative tribute to the scene, and the bands who haunted the “Rock The Garden” era 10 years and counting, from 1990 to 2000. The liner have special notes from the great Kuo Pao Kun himself as well as our dear X'Ho. Altogether 10 bands are tied into the disc for the 10 years of great rocking, and albeit a seriously screwed up tracklisting on the compilation, any fan of local music can instantly recognise the familiar sounds from our familiar bands on the disc. This compilation is a fairly eclectic mix of new and old bands, and it covers across a wide genre from metal to ska, from indie rock to avantgarde. The CD features the following bands and their songs in the correct order: Fishtank- “Restless” (great laidback ska track with very gelek trumpeting), Nuradee- “I'll Remember” (folksy roots ballad), Humpback Oak- “Normanton Park” (the legends's song with an uncanny semblance to Red House Painters' “Grace Cathedral Park), The Ordinary People- “Big Surprise” (brash, energetic indie rock from another legend), Plainsunset- “Priorities” (indie punk rock), The Edge- “Funk It Up” (brilliant metallic funk rock ala RHCP), Concave Scream- “Fiction” (brilliant fret taps and cool U2 vibe from our local legend), One Man Down- “Forsaken” (grating angsty raw nu-metal), The Oddfellows- “Lost My Head” (cult cult live performance from the godfathers of Singapore indie rock), and last but not least Corporate Coil- “Hokkien Girl Blues” (noise, artistic noise from the legends!).

The current S-rockers and their proponents, groupies and managers can “Rock The Sub” in all its pomposity; for those who remember, the spirit of Singapore music as a creative force of a native, as opposed to national would find meaning in “Rock The Garden” of the '90s, an exciting passionate time of the past where the vital interactions of Singapore music and their audience came alive in a spirited firework that short circuited and started a bonfire. I was this anonymous teenager in flannel shirt seated right at the back of the garden, a distance away from the frenzied crowds doing half-baked moshings and secretly pulling a bodysurf every now and then. I've witnessed showy bands, favourite ones, mediocre ones, hopeless ones, technical faults, crazy antics, crazy groupies, rabid responses, accidents, tauntings, cold treatment, total moshing and illegal stuffs, in the cool airy proximity at the foot of Fort Canning where you can kick back, drink some beer and smoke all you want with a good view, brilliant sound and excellent ambience. What great fond memory. This CD will bring you nostalgia-heads back to the aforementioned.

--sojourner at 9:18 PM

Album Reviews

Anesthesia- Anesthesia CD Astreal- Ouijablush CD AWOL- Midnight In June CD Band of Slaves- 45 MCD Bird Brains- Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich CD The Black Sun- The Black Sun CD The Boredphucks- Revolution 69 MCD The Boredphucks- Banned In Da Singapura CD Chris Ho- Nite Songs In Day-Glo CD Concave Scream- Concave Scream CD Concave Scream- Erratic CD Concave Scream- Three CD Daze- Sexy Little Boy MCD Do Not Ask- Just Play It! CD Edgar's Fault- Edgar's Fault CD Fection Dasche- Eternal Transgression CD Flying Pills- Flying Pills CD Force Vomit- The Furniture Goes Up CD Global Chaos- The Art of Listening CD Humpback Oak- Pain-stained Morning CD Humpback Oak- Ghostfather CD Humpback Oak- SideASideB CD Humpback Oak- Oaksongs Boxset Impiety- Asateerul Awaleen CD Kelvin Tan- The Bluest Silence CD Lilac Saints- Awake CD The Lizard's Convention- Here's a Funny Fish, Hurrah! CD The Mother- A Dark Trip On The Ill Tip CD Mutation- Void of Disharmony EP Neural Vibe- Mantra CD The Oddfellows- Teenage Head CD The Oddfellows- Carnival CD The Ordinary People- It's A Weird Existence CD The Padres- BigO Singles Club #1 MCD The Padres- What's Your Story MCD The Pagans- Stereokineticspiraldreams CD Radio Active- Eyes In The Attic CD Starfish n Coffee- Ghost MCD Stompin' Ground- Measured By The Richter Scale CD Stoned Revivals- Golden Lovesongs From The Evil Island of The Handsome Tropical Cannibals CD Sugarflies- And That's Why CD Watchmen- Democracy CD Watchmen- Love MCD Zircon Gov.Pawn Starz- Follywood CD Zircon Lounge- Regal Vigor LP Various Artists- +65 Indie Underground 3 CDs Set Various Artists- Left of The Dial CD Various Artists- The Substation 10 Years & Counting (Rock The Garden) CD Various Artists- 12 Storeys CD Various Artists- New School Rock MCD
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