Wednesday, September 30, 2009

super duper neve genesys mixing console

this is the super-duper mixing console found in tutti studio, the studio we are using for all our future audiohpile album productions.

the first of its kind in malaysia, i was told.

for more than 40 years AMS Neve has represented the pinnacle of professional audio design and engineering:

Genesys, hand-built in our UK factory, combines superb analogue design and true Neve preamp circuitry with hands-on DAW control and connectivity for Pro Tools, etc. And it’s modular, meaning you don’t have to wait until you can afford the full 64-fader system to become a Neve-equipped studio. In its basic 16-fader configuration you get 16 channels of mic/line preamps plus 16 channels of DAW mixing and 32-channel analogue summing at mixdown. And eight auxiliary buses, and eight group buses. And 5.1 monitoring.

i had a brief listen to the sound... OMG, it is so natural and clear and to think that i haven't even added all my stage III cables yet.

heaven is a place on earth. i find heaven in tutti studio.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

jz8 的復活 [jz8's resurrection]

every time i go to victoria music, i am invariably asked this question: when is jz8 debut album coming out? yes, the word has been spread out and many people are expecting it.

fact is, as i have revealed many times, the jz8 duo are some of the most in-demand musicians in town. they are just too busy with their own gigs/projects/concerts to spend time with a demanding recording like this.

the good news is - they are back! jz8 is committed to go in the studio and start recording in november 2009!

tonight i have the pleasure of hearing them in practice in tutti studio after a lapse of almost 6 months. wow, they have improved so much! cher siang has done most of the arrangement and lydia has found her own voice; it is an incredibly satisfying experience to listen to jz8.

i am impressed with cher siang's arrangement; it is precious to have a totally westernized arrangement to jazz up some of these jaded chinese oldies. his chords and harmonizations are wonderfully done; it is rich and multi-layered, lending a whole new life to the songs. music lovers, you have to prepare yourself for some wonderful improvisations in 【永遠的微笑】, 【忘不了的你】,【你快樂,我快樂】!

on the other hand, lydia is just as wonderful. her bass notes are so sexy and sensuous. in some of the oldies like【永遠的微笑】, she could give cai qin a run for her money!

to say that i am excited is an understatement: i greatly anticipate this album. it is gonna be a great great album packed with surprises and feel-good vibes.

wow, two wonderful projects going at the same time. i am in musical heaven!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

雞皮疙瘩的一刻 【goose bump moment】

when gina panizales softly belted out "i honestly love you" (an ONJ's classic), accompanied by roger wang's romantic pluckings on his newly-acquired harp guitar, it was a goose-bump moment that i have not experienced since we recorded 2v1g in 2007. these are moments worth dying for; this is the very reason of music making.

gina's rich voice and seductive bass tone are truly captivating. she captures all the emotions of that song so well that you wondered if she had sung the same song many times to her lover before . if you are talking about singing english love songs by an asian singer, you have to give it to a bona fide filipino.

after hearing today's session, it cemented my opinion that i have got one of the best singers in malaysia for this project. what is precious in gina panizales is, she lived through all the songs in this album. there is so much emotional depth in her vocal arsenal that you can't help but feel enchanted by her way of telling a love story. she could relate to every song in this album so well as she grew up with the songs. every song has her love story, a love story so touching and memorable like the song itself.

you could have heard how filipino singer aiza seguerra rendered "persistent rain", a beautiful ballad about heartbreak. aiza expresses all the anguish and pain of a young girl who suffered love lost for the first time. she wanted to move on but it was so hard and painful. the pain was like persistent rain that never goes away. whereas gina panizales, all mature and worldly, delivers the same song in a wonderfully "been-there-done-that" manner. yes, gina is hurt too but she has been hurt many times before. while it was memorable while it lasted, she doesn't wallow in self-pity anymore. she is ready to move on with her life and seek better love in the future. the contrast between these two wonderful filipino singers in rendering the same song is what excites every music producer. the age, experience and emotional depth of gina in singing love songs is certainly an advantage.

so, here's it, ladies and gentlemen. the commencement of "love's tapestry" album, the first audiophile album of english love songs produced in malaysia.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

new pop/rock bands that i like

after my syndey trip and after listening to tons of pop/rock cds, i get a total update of today's latest english pop/rock music. admittedly, i hadn't been listening to much of today's pop/rock. i find today's music very much derivative and lacking of originality. but my music buddy scolded me for being "old" and "insensitive" because he is one who never stops listening and buying cds since he was a teen.

i checked out bloc party, interpol, killers, ting tings, ami whitehouse, the strokes, white strips and many others. i wasn't impressed by many but there are a couple that really stand out.

i love ting tings for its freshness and total originality! the hit single "that's not name" gets me all foot-tapping. it is full of attitude and the female lead is so sexy and "riotous"! the best part about the song is its backing vocals build up, that's really a touch of genius. but ting tings' music may be faddish and won't last more than one album.

second act that got me interested is killers. frankly, killers' music is not very original. it is some kind of human league-meets-U2 for me but i can't deny its infectiousness. its stadium rock impact reminisces that of u2. my music buddy went for their concert recently and admitted to having a roaring good time! the hit single "human" is the best song for me in 2009. you have to blast it loud to get the full impact. imagine driving on the highway with "human" in full blast.... so uplifting and inspiring!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

一定要買的專輯 [must-buy chinese album of the year]

oh my god, eason chan meeting will lin [林暐哲] ... how could you not buy this album?

the best singer in the chinese pop meeting one of the best producers in the chinese pop, this alone is worth the hype. this is the best singer-producer team ever.

highly anticipated.

i am buying 5 copies.

global release date: 25th september 2009.

香港樂壇已死 【the death of cantopop]




數填詞人,盧國沾代表武俠片的義薄雲天,黃霑代表電視劇的香港情懷,林夕寫佛偈講因果, Wyman用詞偏鋒一刀插入心……但最綺麗浪漫甜入心的,一定要數林敏驄,五年時間寫上過百首流行曲,打造一首首經典情歌,他填詞只有個宗旨──要感動人,先要感動自己。


中菲混血兒,縱橫樂壇三十年,名作有《假如》、《真愛》及《 I Believe I Can Fly》等。曾移民加拿大,回流香港教唱歌,學生有鄭秀文、薛凱琪、梁詠琪、張栢芝等,曾奪第三十屆十大中文金曲金針獎。





七十 年代出生的三字頭,視林敏驄為專寫情歌的才子,《深愛着你》、《最愛的你》、《假如》……聽到 Intro自不然會哼上兩句;八十年代成長的二十出頭,只記得他的幽默風趣,他上《獎門人》節目,玩超級無敵馬拉松的那句:「人人都揸住支蘇格蘭場非工業 用國際線路自動溶雪十六嘩佬風油軚垂直升降連雷射彩色洗衣乾衣氣墊毛筆一支。」相信很多人還有印象。

林: 我也覺得自己精神分裂……我沒刻意加入煽情字句,情歌從來都是簡單直接就最好,我愛你其實很簡單的,奈何八十年代大家都怕尷尬,開不了口,所以我把情話加 入歌曲,憑歌寄意,大家都很受落。填詞,從來都是靠天份的,寫得好只有一個不二法門,就是感動人先要感動自己,有些作品我寫到一半已經哭了,如《忘不了 你》。

杜:對,歌曲最重要是 Touching,同一首歌,每一個歌手唱出來都有不同感情,要唱得投入,就要投放自己感情,這方面我和阿驄都比較了解,因為我們都是性情中人。上星期我 上陶傑的電台節目《光明頂》,他問我如何賦予歌曲生命,我想也不想答:「是歌者的熱情,和我教學生一樣,聲音是最傳真的,只要她們用心唱,一定唱得好。」


杜:我聽外國流行曲大的,如《 Feeling》、《 When I will see you again》,年輕時唱歌是我正職,那時候我只懂唱歌,對其他東西一無所知,愛情和友情,都是從歌詞中學會的,幸好那年頭的歌詞非常正面,否則我會變成壞人,哈哈。

林:英文歌詞壞極有譜!我抄英文歌詞大的,讀書時,我最喜歡在書本上抄 Elton John、 Beatles的歌詞。

杜:我經常說那年代是好幸福的,錄 CD有最好的音響,錄音時大家都很認真,外國的 Melody和歌詞也寫得很好的,阿驄都是聽西方流行曲大的,所以他寫的詞比較「鬼鬼哋」。



記:為甚麼只由 1982年寫到 1986年,之後就停下來?

林:寫得太多了,寫夠了便要停,不是我自負,那時的 CD有十一首歌,我寫的那首一定是最力谷的,或許就是因為太 Top,覺得不好玩就停了。其實我也不是不寫,上年我和農夫也有一首《我是否你唯一的粉腸》,搞笑居多,但我唱得情深。


《幻影》、《無心睡眠》、《花店》……歌詞內容寫熱戀、失戀、暗戀,以上都是林敏驄比較喜歡的,說到極速起貨,一定要數一小時內 Pen down的《深愛着你》。

林: 創作時間短不代表不用心,有時 Mood到,不消一刻便可以寫好一首作品。《深愛着你》是自己喜歡又能在一小時內完成的作品,好作品是 Timeless的,之前為推出回顧大碟翻聽自己作品,依然覺得感動,所以替每首歌寫了自己的感想和後記。原以為這世代再沒人看文字了,但某次出席公開場 合,容祖兒和陳奕迅分別說我寫的東西很 Touching,這很鼓舞我,令我有想過出書的念頭,但我不知寫甚麼才好,不如寫你吧!杜麗莎,我好少讚人,你是 Born to be star!

杜: 嘩,別讚得這麼厲害,我只是喜歡唱歌吧,這熱情從來沒變,所以我教學生之餘也偷出時間錄音,今次推出的《 Hello》專輯,我花了兩年籌備,到美國 Los Angeles找著名音樂人 Michael Thompson製作唱片,當中最喜歡的一首歌是《 Think of you》。

記:在阿驄的 Show裏,你也會唱這首歌?

杜:不會了!阿聰才是主角嘛,我會唱《假如》!就算要 Cover別人的歌,也會唱梅姐的《夢伴》……今天今天星閃閃……《夢伴》真的很易上口。

林: 今次我開兩場演唱會,大家別太嚴肅,就抱一個聽好歌的心態去參加一個 Party吧,雖然我不會如上次和志偉合作《棟溝笑》般搞 Gag間場,但只要你經歷過八十年代,一聽到 Music intro,就肯定會有種魔力令你跟着唱,而且極有可能是由頭唱到尾。當然,少不了與老朋友一齊 Jam唱的環節, Kenny B、杜麗莎一定有份啦,太極樂隊肯出席,更令我重拾放低了十多年的結他,實不相瞞,其實我是個 Band仔,我們那個年代不流行 MMO,要唱歌,就要學真樂器。

杜:逼出來的,那時表演大多數用 Live band,你完全不懂樂器,根本沒法和樂隊溝通,這是個現實問題。


林: 這個嘛,我作為前輩,一定要給後輩機會,我邀請的都是有潛質的新人,我之前與女結他手 Takki、樂隊 Mr.合作過,他們彈結他一流,快歌方面會有 EO2,總之一句整個音樂會都是經過精心設計的,還有一個特別嘉賓,姓陳,又叫醫生( Eason!林敏驄在搞 Gag!),好端端一個演唱會又何須醫生呢?哈哈!



林: 這幾年,我覺得是活在樂壇最困惑的日子,科技進步了但樂壇竟然落後了,以前和阿 B去日本錄歌,用 15萬做一隻歌,現在那有老闆肯花 15萬給你? 15萬,做幾隻碟都有餘了,相隔不過十年,唉!十年前,我怎也想不到樂壇會有如此光景,那年頭大家都爭着做到最好,大家在良性競爭關係下成長,樂壇不難有 佳作,以前的唱片公司高層全是 Band仔出身,真心愛音樂,現在全都是生意人,任何 Show任何獎項都是談回來的,沒有人再 Care樂壇。

杜: 對呀!整個樂壇都是沒有生命的,導致如斯光景是多方面的,第一,歌手水準下跌,現在 Singer沒平台表演,以前我們在酒吧又唱,公園、沙灘都有 Show,現在連電視台都少了唱歌 Show;第二,正如阿驄所說,唱片公司高層一味向錢看,這是個惡性循環;第三,缺少機會!大家要給多點機會新人,其實他們都很努力,我很多學生也很努 力,有次有個學生跟我說:「老師,監製叫我唱得 Sexy點。」我心想,如何唱得 Sexy是要學的,這個樂壇越來越即食,有時見到學生我也痛心,現在做 Artist很苦,很多事情是站得出來就一定要懂,不然的話會被比下去。

林:所以我常說,寫歌作歌唱歌是要天份的,後天有用,不過要很很很很努力才可以補救, C朗用不用學踢波呢?不用啦!



訪問前,刻意重聽林敏驄的作品,感覺正如訪問中他提及到的一句:「好的 作品是 Timeless的!」我更想說的是──好歌有好報,福報在《好歌•好友》演唱會,新舊歌手朋友齊齊支持林敏驄,這算是阿聰的好報吧。誰知我這樣說,他卻 無奈搖頭道:「才不是啦!我近日頸骨痛,去看醫生,連他也打趣說,可能我之前整蠱得人太多,所以現在有報應,我看這是天收我吧!哈哈,當還債吧!反正我成 日得罪人。」這種林敏聰式自嘲,令在場工作人員笑了,或許孤高得帶點悽酸才當得上填詞人,否則那裏來多愁善感,傷春悲秋?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

复苏 【the revival】

many have wondered - why did 2v1g "disappear" from the radar after only one successful debut album?

there were many false starts to the long-awaited 2nd album. the whole project is marred by a series of unfortunate incidences and totally uncontrollable circumstances.

in all likelihood, the production will resume this month.

we are too embarrassed to make any more promises, so let's just wait for the real thing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

love's tapestry

many of my friends think the album's title of "songs for heartbreak" is too bleak and connotes the negative aspects of love, which we agree, so we are toying with a couple of alternative titles such as "a gift of love", "love's tapestry" or even more poetic ones.

for now, we are happy with "love's tapestry", unless we think of something better at a later time.

roger wang will be flying down next week for our first rehearsal in our new studio, the tutti studio, located at the almost-dead but gloriously quiet nzx business area in kelana jaya.

i have absolutely no expectations because i have not seen or heard roger's pairing with gina but my gut feel tells me that it is gonna be great. it has been more than a year since 2v1g production and i am itching for all the excitement that's to come in the next few months.

also, i am curious about the sound quality and acoustics standards of the tutti studio, except to say that it has to be much better than our previous studio in shamelin cheras, which we recorded 2v1g.

i have revealed in this blog some of the songs we chose for our repertoire and we would practise on that but we are not sure if they would suit roger & gina. we tried to choose more modern love songs from the 90s or the last 5 years to suit the younger music lovers but we could hardly find any memorable love songs from that era!

marketing wise, we would package the cd as a romantic gift for valentine's so packaging would cost more than the normal cd....

it is gonna be fun!

Friday, September 11, 2009

100 best album covers

i am taking this sabbatical in sydney to catch up on my reading.

my music buddy is a walking encyclopedia of pop music, with literally thousands of CDs, LPs, books and videos in his impressive collection, over the past 30 years. practically anything i could think of, he has it. i said i wanted to listen to fleetwood mac's "rumor" and he dug out a video of the legendary group talking about the making of the ground-breaking album. i said i wanted to listen to kraftwerk's "autobahn", he immediately switched it on for me. i am indeed in for a musical nirvana! i still have tones of music videos to watch for my remaining holidays in sydney.

over the past 3 days, i have read multiple books/magazines on the same subject title "best 100 album cover designs", including the most authoritative one from UK's Q magazine. the covers shown here are the ones that appear in almost every book i read. i am a great fan of album cover art. to me, album cover is an integral part of the music. i could almost buy an album just for the album cover! well, this applies only to english albums and not chinese album, sorry :-(

my most-loved and most-respected designers are people like peter saville (who was the designer for the indie label factory records, housing legendary acts such as joy division, new order and happy mondays). his designs were always minimalist, clean and classy. fans of joy division, pet shop boys, pulp and new order would know what i mean. peter saville is already in the hall of fame for album cover art.

you would be suprised how much thoughts are put into an album cover, from the images, to font types and the overall messages that the designer wants to convey. i am not sure if modern day artistes care at all about album cover art. but looking at today's album covers, i am sad to say that the attention given to album cover art is so much less now. in fact, with the digital age, album cover art would even be less insignificant.

well, who make the worst album covers? - chinese pop albums! :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the best cd store in the world?

i must tell you this. just when i thought cd chain stores are closing by the dozens worldwide, i came across this amazing treasure trove called jb hifi in australia.

mind you, "jb"is not "johor bahru", of course! jb hifi is simply the most amazing all-in-one home entertainment store i have ever visited!

the range of cd in store is amazingly complete and detailed; it shows that their buyers are superbly knowledgeable! in fact, the slogan in jb hifi is "whatever you want, we will find it for you - provided it is there". and i tell you, i can find anything i have ever wanted in jb hifi!

for a lot of the albums on the racks, you can find different pressings. what does this tell you? it tells you that jb hifi knows the mindset of the hardcore music collectors like me (who like to collect multiple pressings) ! where else do you find cd store like this?

the guys behind jb hifi are definitely a bunch of geniuses. the way they build the brand name and do their marketing is simply smart. every corner you go, you see yellow-colored (yellow seems to be their corporate color) stickers proclaiming "i am cheap!", really stealing the customers' attention instantly. cheap, they really are. in fact, i was told by my music buddy that jb hifi indeed sells the cheapest cds in australia; no one comes close.

but the most respectable thing to me is - behind all this "cheap" and "loud" image is the completeness and extensiveness of their cd collection! these guys are serious music lovers!

there is also a LP section stocking the latest and classic pop/rock titles. sorry, no audiophile titles are in sight.

i am told that jb hifi is actually a public listed company hence the vast monetary resources they have. i also suspect their cd department is not making as much money as their other home entertainment departments. but my music buddy tells me that their cd department attracts the right buyers, mainly the young music lovers who have disposable income.

if you ever come to sydney australia, make sure you visit johor bahru hifi! ;-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

roger wang is the producer!

i have appointed my trusted guitarist roger wang as the chief producer for "songs for heartbreak" album!

roger has worked with gina for her debut album "finally" so the understanding and chemistry is there.

we have finalized a list of 12 songs as the prelim repertoire. by the end of this month, roger would fly down to kl and jam with gina to see which songs strike the best chord...

this is gonna be pop pop's first audiophile production so i am sweating with anticipation. the great thing is now i am at the helm, everything is now under my control. it is high time to actually "produce" an album, instead of just "talking" about it endlessly! everyone is tired of waiting, including myself.

we have tentatively set our launch date to be valentine's 2010.

rest assured, tons of updates are coming to this blog!

alternatively yours - an update

latest update:
i am auditioning one local indie singer...he is submitting his demo to me this week. he is very keen to work with me and thinks the concept is great and refreshing.

watch this space!

it was funny, i was asking my singer for "songs for heartbreak" whether she could cover this
and she said "she can't relate to this kind of indie alternative music". i told her the song is by leonard cohen and covered by tones of other singers, including the late jeff buckley in this definitive version.

suddenly, it dawn on me that i could do an audiophile album for alternative music, in a minimalist style like what jeff buckley done in "hallelujah"! wow! that would be terminally cool!

all at once, these songs came to mind:

1) radiohead "high and dry"
2) the verve "the drugs don't work"
3) new order "bizarre love triangle"
4) the cure "just like heaven" (katie melua did a jazzy version of it!)
5) jeff buckley "hallelujah"
6) coldplay "yellow"
7) damien rice "the blower's daugther"
8) jesus and mary chain "about you"
8) and many others of similar genre

and the greatest thing is - i have already a male singer in mind! this guy used to imitate robert smith (the lead singer of the cure) like no others and he is a great indie singer..... i am sure he would agree to do an album like this!

an alternative album recorded in an audiophile manner, this must be a breakthru!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

又是抄! [plagiarism again!]

my goodness, this is really blatant!
and it happens on tanya chua, someone i respect....