Saturday, April 03, 2010
HUMPBACK OAK- Oaksongs 4 CDs Boxset
(Humpback Oak 2010)
“Oaksongs” would be the last music I buy. “Pain-stained Morning” being the first Singapore album I bought. Humpback Oak serves up as the alpha and omega of my adventures in Singapore rock music and if not, any involvement in music at all. You'd have read somewhere that I am suffering from musical malaise and have gotten rid of close to 95% of what used to be my Cds, tapes and vinyls. And yet I have a survivalist bug-out bag with enough space for the “Oaksongs” boxset and it in itself can hold the rest of my Humpback Oak Cds. This bundle will be spared from my material world spring cleaning because it is of utmost importance to me. You'd see that the bundle of Humpback Oak stuffs occasionally holds my soul.
A more resolved person can readily identify the appeal of Humpback Oak as the most excellent representation of void decked acoustic guitar strummers from the heartlands endemic to reclusive Singaporean loners like yours truly. Not in the league of rock n' roll children of grand gestures, this is a gifted and humble gem that is most agreeable to the unassuming but critical.
For alot of people, “Oaksongs” is perhaps the last chance to hear all the lost classics of this band from the demos to the three highly acclaimed cult albums, which over the years just seemed more and more elusive. For longtime Humpback Oak fans like me, this is a celebration of its existence (and death). The boxset is limited to only 500 sets and held its launch at Books Actually, a cool place with the kind of customers you'd like to curb stomp to a pulp. On the day of its launch, I sneaked into that store and managed to get the boxsets before anybody turned up. For some strange reason, I was bestowed a #333/500 from Leslie for being the first customer, and my delusional state of grandeur sometimes tells me that this is my number, that of the half beast. I metaphysically ransacked the interior of Leslie's room captured in a diorama and found alot of cool things tucked under the bed and under the floorings, like the scribbled piles of SJI foolscaps, a custom-made guitar pick, photos of them looking dejected and serious, and last but not least 4 Cds packaged in origami! I think someone lost his head.
Finally, justice is done to the demos and rare tracks, immortalised here on digitally enhanced CD. The subliminally beautiful rawness and talent of the amateurish demos is like a Carpenter's “Yesterday Once More”, wrecking up ghosts stuck in the time loop of the past. I reached for my cigarettes while listening to it, and inhaled a lungful for kundalini's moment. Then while testing out the rest of the Cds more and more unsettling magma seeped into me. For a while, the infallible me have to grapple with sheer emotionality of the past without being reduced to a miserable wretch. I tried to shake off the haunting effects of Humpback Oak but to no avail. It is pain stained morning ad infinitum all over again.
--sojourner at 12:52 AM