Archive for September, 2008


#008 Deepset – Every Instance in Time is a Journey of Hope (live)

Sometimes, things just get a little too intense in sardine-can Singapore. That’s why I always love the six hour coach ride up to Kuala Lumpur. It never feels like a long or short ride, just an all right, motorik trip up an ever-rolling highway, past isolated prefab low-rise apartment slabs, wicky thickets or neat rows of palms to an open sky. For me, a trip out of Singapore invariably means a recovery of space. Reprieve from encroachment. Shot of rejuvenation.

Photo by Mark Wong

Photo by Mark Wong

While in KL recently, I caught wind of Deepset‘s album launch at Wondermilk Cafe in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya. From Central Market, this took us an hour and a half to reach–first by rail to where a friend’s car was parked, then on vast highways, a light drizzle clearing the Friday rush hour smog. Wondermilk Cafe was hidden in a quiet commercial row in the heart of suburbia–just a crossing away from terraced residences. Getting there after nine, most shops were closed or closing, workers heading or already back home after a long work week. By the time Deepset started playing, past eleven, Wondermilk Cafe was the only beacon of activity in the vicinity (save one auto-repair shop nearby). This gave the sixty of us, spilling out of the shop front, a sense of knitted community, gathered out there as we were for a singular purpose. The music of Deepset provided those threads of nexus, gentle lines of flight. The band’s instrumental forays have that searching quality, where every note is an open node of patient possibilities. Starting with an introspective guitar melody before the advent of an accented motorik march, the first half of “Every Instance in Time is a Journey of Hope” was a music that rose gently but powerfully, all flags fluttering magnificently. The second half transformed into a dainty sidestep, a slow dance in courtly waltz that ended on a simple flourish. Deep in Malaysian suburbia, under a cover of black, Deepset took us all home that night, wherever that was.

mp3: Deepset – Every Instance in Time is a Journey of Hope (live at Closer to Cure: an Evening with Deepset, Aug 29, 2008)


#007 Localbarboy – Lost My Head/The Girl from Katong [The Oddfellows/Serenaide] (live)

In 1994, I was the biggest local music fan in Singapore. I was twelve years old and I made it a point not to miss this radio programme on 98.7FM. It was on Sundays in the afternoon, probably hosted by Bernard Lim, and called The A-List–very apt, because they played a full hour of only music made in Singapore. I know–fuckin’ A, right?

Today, older, wiser and with sensitive teeth, I can appreciate how simple-minded my thinking had been. I mean–duh–the biggest local music fan in Singapore is obviously Joe Ng. Three years ago, Joe assembled a number of good friends and like-minded music fans and formed Localbarboy, a covers band that wouldn’t be caught dead playing Marooned 5 or Hoobastink; behold, instead, a set list that includes Humpback Oak, Force Vomit or even Naomi & the Boys! Going to a Localbarboy gig was like experiencing The A-List again, an hour of only fuckin’ A Singapore tunes.

Their maiden show saw the Prince of Wales backpackers’ pub filled to the brim and spilling over with bodies. Granted, the date coincided with the pub’s anniversary celebration and cheap booze on tap. Still, I’d be darned if at least half the punters weren’t there to relive, communally, select moments of our private musical pasts. To be perfectly honest, Localbarboy are a band with more heart than chops, which is why, at the end of their set and with the band having run out of things to play, the audience decided to lend a voice to sing our own encore–over me, over you–everyone of us a karaoke star, local bar, boys and girls.

mp3: Localbarboy – Lost My Head/The Girl from Katong [The Oddfellows/Serenaide] (live at Prince of Wales Pub One Year Anniversary, Jun 1, 2005)


#006 1234X – Sapporo Sex Pill (live)

Photo from

Coming on like a dose of Tongkat Ali into Singapore’s independent music scene, 1234X brought your root down with their primal brew of stripped down rock ‘n’ roll with slinky sex aplomb. As a basic drums, guitar/vox and bass trio, Ina X, Dino X and Marina X emerged into a scene increasingly dominated by post-rock histrionics and pedal pushers, only to show us that concise composition, lyrical wit and sartorial flair win over blustery effects any day. “Sapporo Sex Pill” typifies the band’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll approach. Ina X is your whiplash girl-child, all ringing cymbals and sultry poundings on skin; Marina X brings on the bass to rumble your lumber; Dino X croons off a decadent, if hazy list of sex pills on the rocks and protein jars (?)–“the things that make me sigh”– before an extended instrumental climax-cum-outro (that takes up half the song) comes on to bring us home in three minutes.

mp3: 1234X – Sapporo Sex Pill (live at Interpop, Dec 24, 2005)

a paean to bootlegging,
to memory,
to ubiety,
and to the Unity
of the Song

please leave a comment if you were there too. i'd love to hear from you

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September 2008
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cd reviews

i'm always looking forwards as well as backwards, so i'm opening up the site for cd reviews of new music

if you're a band in singapore, malaysia or southeast asia with an album or ep out and would like your music savagely torn apart and skewered on a fat stick, drop me an email with UNITY SONG in the subject line at:

reviews will be done the UNITY SONG way: i will choose one song from your release to feature and provide an audio stream. cheers

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