Monday, December 29, 2008

法式浪漫 [french romance]


i discovered mondialito[夢的雅朵], the japanese duo that sings in french, only 2 months ago. and i fell in love with it instantly.

admittedly, i am a sucker for indie music that is unique and refreshing and mondialito fits into this bill perfectly. how would i describe mondialito's music? words like dreamy, "floaty", slightly melancholic, romantic, melodious.... it's the kind of music perfect for day-dreaming or just lazing around your house. it is the perfect music for lifestlye cafes and chill-out lounges.

junko, the lead vocalist, has an angelic and girlish voice that is quite unlike anyone else. and toshiya, the other member who is in-charge of everything else (arrangement, guitar, keyboard) is a remarkable genius. toshiya's arrangement is multi-layered and highly textured; his music is refined and classy. mondialito's music is simple in melody and yet complex in arrangement.

the world is too complex, the music is too noisy, the people are too deceiving..... when you feel so lousy that you think you need an escape, choose mondialito. mondialito is for those who want to escape from the real troubled world. it is music that heals the soul.

absolutely gorgeous stuff.


[藝人介紹]
來自東京的雙人組合Mondialito,由女主唱Junko呼氣式的法語吟唱與團長Toshiya的吉他演奏、悠揚弦樂,交融出永恆的夢幻憂傷。Mondialito 的音樂充滿了美麗的影像與色彩。

Mondialito夢的雅朵由女生Junko 填詞演唱,男生笛岡俊哉Toshiya作曲並彈奏所有樂器,不僅在日本有多場巡迴,更是受到中、港、台、韓國地區歌迷的強烈喜愛,頻頻受邀巡迴演唱;同時也受到各國專業樂評與音樂雜誌的大力推薦。

Mondialito 夢的雅朵,以法語的呢喃和悠揚的弦樂交融出永恆的夢幻憂傷!日系氣呼式女聲營造出略帶憂傷的甜蜜夢幻,有著類似陳綺貞的溫暖歌聲與呢喃細語,伴隨吉他與淡淡的電子音效呈現出迷濛清幽的感受。

Saturday, December 27, 2008

方大同时代来了 [khalil has arrived]



seriously, if khalil fong were to emerge 10 years ago before jay chou did, he would have been a bigger star than jay (tho' admittedly he is relatively less handsome and has got less attitude).

this singer-songwriter from hk has immense talent and after 4 albums, i still don't see the bottom of his talent. he is unlike jay, whose creativity stopped, like 5 albums, ago. i am not being sarcastic, jay chou has seen better days.

whether you like khalil's style of singing is a personal thing but you can't deny that he is superbly talented and crafty. his is a tunesmith of a great order.

i like this album a lot, it is as good his his 2nd "love, love, love", and much better than his 3rd "love song". some of the songs in this album are so soulful, groovy & funky and yet they have plenty of pop sensibility, with great melody and kick-ass rhythm. the horn section adds a new facet to the arrangement. yes, the arrangement is superb. you can tell that khalil is at his peak here, enjoying and savoring every moment of his music making.

all the songs are good, especially the hidden track (hint: you have to wait a good 20 minutes after the last song, before the hidden track starts appearing), which he composed for eason chan in his latest mandarin album. there are so many groovy vibes throughout this album, with plenty of positive messages about love. this album makes me tap my foot, it makes me happy! (unlike many chinese pop albums, which i feel like throwing away after the 3rd song!)

khalil has created a genre of his own in the chinese pop industry and this alone places him high in the hall of fame.

heartily recommended. one of the best chinese albums in 2008.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

知音何处寻 [it is lonely out there]


路是那么的崎岖,夜空是那么的漆暗无边,这一段长途,谁愿意一个人默默的走?谁愿意有人陪伴踏步?谁愿意三五成群?谁愿意双人成行?

史上留名的艺术工作者谁不寂寞一生?谁不感叹一世?有多少人可以有幸与那些一生付出的纯真音乐人共欢同喜?有谁可以尽其一生呵护那些心中充满了淋漓剔透至性真情的艺术工作者一同共进退?

当前无古人、后无来者的巴哈无怨的付出直至离开人世前的最后时光,他所惦记的、担忧的、不舍的,也只不过是他终其一生所创作的音乐,今天,世人称巴哈为音乐之父,但是,又有谁可以感受到他在生一世,面对现实的一切挣扎、坚持和忍辱?有谁愿意相信他在世所听到的旋律?又有谁可以明白和接受他有生之年所交出的作品?又是谁有如斯荣幸,可以靠近那么一位伟大的巨人?有谁愿意为他承担?有谁愿意爱他?爱他的音乐同时包容他、纵容他、放任他?不可能,如果真有这样的一个人,那确实是太可怕了,这会是一种不平衡和盲目,这会是一种极度的不公平的病态。

如今社会,万物瞬间转变,无常是唯一的不变,音乐或者艺术都已经失去了她自己的乐园。所有对音乐或艺术的肯定已经渐渐的以商业的效应为大前提,那么,人的本质是不是也已经变了呢?没有,只要明白自己的最初,回到自己的最单纯和最透明,你就可以看到本质、看到至情至性,你就会知道一切悲欢皆因满天的阳光风雨你在途中困扰了你最初的梦。

那么,创作最关键的就是:你是不是一直都可以找回真正启步的那一刹那?你是不是可以在自己的心中建设一座可以完成你自己的梦想的永远的乐园?

如果是,那当你的创意、当你的梦、你的世界还无能成型的时候,世人的怀疑、同道的攻击、亲人的担忧、爱人的不忍和自我的煎熬就是必需的,而你的唯一的武器就是相信自己、坚持自己和忍辱一切。

路是那么的崎岖,夜空是那么的漆暗无边,当不能要求他人爱我们的音乐同时包容我们、纵容我们、放任我们的时候,这一段长途,其实也只能靠我们自己一个人走了。

因为,在艺术的海洋里,孤独是唯一的停靠。

周金亮 [chow kam leong]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

品味音乐 [classy]


very few know that chiu hock-e (赵学而, bondy) can sing; even fewer know that she sings darn well.

this is not your ordinary audiophile cd in the following aspects: (1) it is not boring and sterile sounding (2) it has plenty of pop sensibility (3) the arrangement is generally good (4) the recording is superb (5) the singer and musicians are good (6) the songs are well chosen

my fave song in the cd - alex toh's [杜德伟] "be your love" (a hit in the early 90s) has been totally rearranged into a cool and breezy bossa number that is totally engaging. we may want to produce this song for 2v1g! bondi also covers songs by leon lai, danny chan, jacky cheung and chi-lam. most of the songs have a jazzy, chill-out feel, which hock-e carries with conviction.

hock-e's voice is not the powerful kind but her diction, pitching and phrasing are solid. she is not the technical kind of singer and yet she can sound immensely musical.

what's so precious about this album is that it crosses well between pop and audiophile, just like the kind of albums that musictoxin aims to produce. i have passed a copy of the cd to my jz8 singer, lydia, for reference and she likes it too.

for other reviews in chinese, please check review #1 and review #2.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

分析雷颂德 [analyzing mark lui]


there's no doubt that the whole hk cantopop industry is pivoted on mark lui [雷颂德], and mark lui alone. i can't imagine 90s and the new milennium cantopop without him. if mark lui were to die today then the whole cantopop music industry in hk will collapse overnight.

as much as he is a godfather of modern cantopop in hk, he has his fair share of critics and detractors. those who are not discerning may not know why he is criticised all these years but i shall count his sins here.

he is not the most talented producer that hk has ever seen but definitely he is the smartest and most wicked producer of all. he has the ability to plagiarize from western music without people knowing (at least not to the majority of undemanding cantopop followers) and make it into his own. it is like a jigsaw puzzle; he steals a bit from here and a bit from there, and voila! he forms a new piece of art!

from his early days with kelly chen [陈慧琳] , he has been heavily influenced (to use a polite term) by stock-aitken-waterman (SAW), the ace producer trio from UK in the 80s, who was responsible for dance pop darlings such as rick astley, bananarama and kylie minogue. kelly hit the charts with her "unique" brand of dance music but very few know that it is totally unoriginal!

mark lui is the chief culprit responsible for creating this genre of trashy cantopop called "K- songs", which stands for karaoke-friendly songs. this brand of music is shallow, repeatedly and annoyingly catchy and most importantly, forgettable after a few rounds. many cantopop superstars today benefitted from his k-songs. many industry people in hk have told me that "k-songs" are living in dying breath. it won't be long before people realize how cheap it is. just look at the career doldrums of miriam yeung [杨千桦] and leo ku [古巨基] now. they are passe, over the prime already.

having said that, mark lui does have some talents. his is single-handedly responsible for the mega success of leon lai, miriam yeung, leo ku and many others. i am not here to take away his glory from making hk pop music industy sustainable over the last two decades.

4 years ago, he created janice vidal [wai lan, 卫兰], which to me is the most promising singer hk has seen for a while. the debut album "day and night", with its cool mix of jazz and bossa, was such a breath of fresh air to my ears. i still love that album after all these years. i thought i found hope in mark lui again. and i regard janice as the saving grace for hk cantopop.

4 albums later, i picked up this latest album called "serving you". guess what? mark lui copied all over the places! so many familiar tunes in so many places. it is as if mark lui used all his collective best tricks over the years and cooked up this album. there are so many sure-fire ingredients of "k-songs" in this album that it can guarantee a certain degree of success in the market. already, i am told that this album is the top-grossing album in hk in 2008. i have never ever suspected mark's cleverness but he can't fool us over and over again. no doubt, some of the songs sound annoyingly catchy but it could have been done for miriam yeung or leo ku or justin lo [侧田] with the same resutls. if not because of janice's angelic voice, the songs would have been relegated to those despicable "k-songs" again. i personally feel that janice is a wasted talent in the hands of mark lui.

to me, all mark lui's releases this year have been bad but janice's album is the best of the lot. i leave you to figure out if that is a compliment or insult.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

最佳广东发烧碟 [best canto audiophile album]


some singers are destined for greatness but because of certain factors like age and luck, they couldn't make it in the commercial pop scene. it is then for some really sharp-eyed producers to pick them up and make them into audiophile singers. i have been waiting for years for bondy chiu hock-e (赵学而) to release an audiophile album. my wish has come true. i believe i am the first one to pick up this album.

this has the making of the best canto audiophile album of 2008. you can throw away your mimo lo, susan wong, le mon and all those canto audiophile singers in the past.

review to come.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

音乐通胜杂志封面 [MTX exposed!]


MTX (musictoxin xpress) is an initiative from musictoxin to promote indie, lifestyle-oriented and non-mainstream music in malaysia. musictoxin aims to produce good music which caters to discerning music lovers and our magazine is our voice. we will leave the mainstream media to do their gossips and sensationalistic news. MTX only talks about music and nothing else.

the key contents would be review articles on jazz music, pop/rock, indie, audiophile and chinese pop. we are going to have an audiophile music chart as well. there will be contests every issue giving away free CDs. there is also be an event calendar from performing venues such as no black tie.

MTX is going to be distributed free-of-charge at all major record stores in the klang valley. those who are from other states, rest assured, we will have pdf download facility at this blog.

this is roughly how it is gonna looks like for our first inaugural issue!

this is the first time an indie label produces its own magazine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

诞生 [jz8 is born!]


ladies and gentlemen, introducing jz8........ (drum roll)

jz8 is tay cher siang on piano and lydia chew (chooi ling) on vocals. together they will bring you modern chinese pop classics with a cool jazz flavour.

jz8's debut album is slated to be out in july 2009!

a brief intro on them:

[tay cher siang]

Tay Cher Siang started his piano lessons just like most people, learning classical music. He took up an interest in Jazz during his teenage years and began to pursue his musical journey as a jazz pianist.

He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from West Virginia University and continued to get his Masters Degree in Jazz Pedagogy, studying under Dr. James Miltenberger and Professor Paul Scea.

His achievements include winning the WVU Young Artist Competition in 2004, recipient of the HERF Top-Off Award and the Valerie Canady Award. He was the Graduate Assistant for the Jazz Department in WVU where he got the chance to direct the college’s Jazz Big Band and various Small Group Ensembles.

Throughout the years in America, Mr. Tay performed regularly as a soloist, as well as with ensembles such as the WVU Big Band, the Mon River Big Band, the Jenny Menna Trio, the Washington Street Jazz Band, and the WVU Wind Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Tay was awarded Young Artist Competition Winner and performed with WVU Symphony Orchestra performing Gershwin Piano Concerto in F. He also gave concerts as classical and jazz pianist, with various groups. Other than performing, Mr. Tay composes, and arranges for big band and small groups.

Mr. Tay is currently teaching at UCSI and University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. Since his return to Malaysia, he has been active in the Kuala Lumpur music scene. He has performed with Greg Lyons group, The Boplicity, Gruvavenue, Rizal Soliano Band, Louis Soliano Quartet and also played for vocalists from various musical genres: Khadijah Ibrahim, Junji Delfino, Ida Mariana, and Gina Panizales. He has performed in a variety of music festivals: Malacca Straits Jazz Festival in Riau, June 2007, Penang Jazz Festival in Penang, November 2007, and Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore, March 2008. His recent accomplishments include Musical “Inner Voices-Let’s Go Mamak” in KLPac as a composer and pianist (August 2008), and Choir concert presenting the Young KL Singers: Breakin’ It Down Jazz Concert in Oct 2008 as arranger and jazz advisor. He just completed a series of concerts and seminars tour in Malaysia with his trio WV Connection in September 2008, and much acclaimed Unit Asia’s Southeast Asia Tour in Oct 2008.

[lydia chew]

lydia started her singing career in the early 90s so she is a veteran of more than 15 years in the industry. today she is the most sought-after back-up vocalist in malaysia, and even that is an understatement. lydia performs regularly with top malaysian artistes such as sheila majid and top HK cantopop artistes such as jenny tseng, justin lo and many others.

the committee is going to have its first official meeting this sunday. please bookmark this blog if you are interested to follow the progress of this exciting project.

it is going to be another new chapter in the music industry in malaysia!

美好的声音 [sweet voices of love]





the moment i stepped into esplanade's dome, i knew i was in for a treat. this is a different hall from the one where sheila majid held her concert last year. the dome is smaller but gorgeously built. i sat in the 6th row, exactly the same row and distance from the stage as my last DFP concert where nah youn sun performed.

it was such a treat to listen to emi fujita in this kind of acoustic environment. i really have to thank my lucky stars that i got so many chances like this in my life to listen to world-class performances in a world-class halls.

emi's peformance was good, steady and sweet, without the technical supremacy of nah youn sun. it just goes to show all you need is a good song and a good voice; technicality may not be everything. you would never expect emi to do vocal acrobatics; she is the kind of singer who will sing a good song in a down-to-earth way. all the songs she chose for the night are golden classics - the rose, tears in heaven, annie's song, all my loving, daydream believer, somewhere over the rainbow etc etc. at times, emi's voice is just too flat to carry the song, like in the chirpy "daydream believer" but the audience just lapped it up. emi even did "singapura, singapura" much to the delight of singaporean fans.

to be absolutely frank, the dome's acoustics are not as great as DFP. the bass, from where i sat, is slightly boomy and a lot of details and nuances were lost in emi's voice, unlike my experience with nah youn sun where i could even hear her breathing. and the big speakers flanking the stage were too directional; one could not feel the sound coming from the centrestage. my anti-audiophile friend was complaining "see, there's no soundstage in live performance?? all the sound was coming from the two speakers!" i just couldn't rebutt him.

a little bird to me that emi's cds sold a whopping 30,000 copies in singapore alone. that's an incredible figure considering that most best-selling audiophile cds sold an average of 2,000 copies. (note: 2v1g sold close to 1,000 copies in sg) it speaks volume of emi's popularity in tiny dot.

the autograph session is overwhelming (as can be seen from the photo), the queue was building up fast as soon as the concert finished. the sales of emi's cds was brisk too with another long queue forming at a different counter. poor me had to wait for the autograph session to be over before i got to talk to emi.

i finally got to meet with emi at around 11:00pm at the backstage and all her crew were rushing to get out of esplanade by then. apparently, esplanade has to be closed by 11:00pm. emi looked tired and but nevertheless she is nice and sweet. her event organizer, ms shirleen jong, actually invited us for supper but we felt that we were intruding so we turned down their invitation.

this ranks as my best singapore trip in recent years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

藤田恵美演唱会 [emi fujita live in singapore]


how lucky can one get?

some kind soul is flying me to SG this weekend to cover the emi fujita acoustic live concert in esplanade!

not only will i get the best seat, i also get to interview her!

the interview article will appear in the first issue of MTX (musictoxin xpress), slated to be out in mid-jan 2009.

btw, the january gig at NBT has been postponed due to exhaustion on the part of the two voices, who are going to finish their first musical (magic mirror) stint at genting this sunday. months of preparation has taken a toll on their health. we apologize to those who have made reservations. rest assured, we will be back stronger and better!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

爵士俱乐部网站 [no black tie's website is up!]


i have been waiting for this for the last ten years!

finally, evelyn hii, the boss of NBT, got it done in time too for 2v1g's gig in jan 2009.

hooray, the best performing platform in kl has finally got a home!

please guys, if you call yourself a music lover, you owe it to yourself to visit this place.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

音乐通胜杂志 [MTX out in jan 2009!]


starting january 2009, we are converting our hifi magazine av xpress into a music bulletin called MTX (musictoxin xpress)!

av xpress has been in the market for 2 years now. it is distributed for free in all the record shops in kl, mainly victoria music and rock corners. while it concentrates mainly on hifi, the music review section is very popular with the record stores' buyers and their customers.

our intentions to launch musictoxin xpress are two-fold:
1) to promote musictoxin label and its artistes (2v1g, jz8 and more)
2) to promote good music thru album reviews and good articles on music.

musictoxin xpress is a bilingual, once-in-2-month bulletin which covers topics like album reviews (chinese pop, english pop/rock, audiophile and jazz), music industry updates and up-to-date info on musictoxin's stable of artistes like 2v1g and jz8.

our artistes like roger wang, tay cher siang and chow kam leong are going to contribute articles on music.

since mainstream media doesn't quite bother with indie label like us, it is high time we take matters into our own hands.

trust me, MTX is going to be really cool bulletin for the discerning music lovers!

watch out for it in january 2009 at a record store near you!