Monday, November 30, 2009

飛機又降落 [another plane has landed]


my ex-gf shook her head when she first discovered that i have almost all the albums of my llittle airport, this quirky little indie act from hong kong. she said, "i couldn't believe that someone who listens to cheer chen, radiohead, coldplay and produced 2v1g would take a liking on my little airport!~"

well, nobody takes my little airport seriously and that's exactly why they are special. because of this freedom, couldn't-care-less and devil-may-care attitude, they always manage to churn out stuff that keep surprising me. my little airport epitomizes the thinking of smart, highly- educated young adults of hong kong. they are full of attitude and they are sharp and observant with what's going on in the society.

their shoegazing indie pop, or what some call cutie pop, is really not worthy of awards but they are fun to listen to when you want some stress-free happy music to fill your dull afternoons. their lyrics are gem: imaginative, daring, funny, humorous, quirky, suggestive or even bordering on vulgarity, my little airport takes the indie spirits to full blossom.

this is their latest offering (love the cover!) and i would definitely buy it from yesasia.

if you have the slightest interest on them, you can check their youtube videos but be forewarned, don't take them seriously ;-)



this one is about the anxiety of making out in a love hotel, hilarious!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

爵士,絕世 [jazz the two of us]

standing left to right: chow, me, cher siang, lydia, vong, joe, charles

recording for jz8 continues with the trio and the chemistry of tay cher siang, charles (drummer) and joe (double bassist) is something to be heard to believe. i watched in amazement as cher siang directed the two stellar sessionists. before you know it, they were already playihg like they have been playing for years together.

it was a casual and fun atmosphere as everyone was feeling relaxed about the recording, despite starting one and half an hour late. cher siang and lydia especially were cracking jokes and making funny conversation, not even a little pressured by the enormity and the burden of expectations on them. i call this professionism.

we recorded 5 songs just within the span of 2 hours and cher siang took the cake for coming out with the superb arrangement for 幸福摩天輪 (ferry wheel), an eason chan cover, and one of the two cantonese songs we include in the album. the way he played the intro creates a picturesque scene of a little kid entering an amusement park, bedazzled by the lights and crowd that's surrounding him. it is worth buying the entire album for this song alone! in all likelihood, we will make this song the first song in the album cos once you listen to it, you will have to buy it!

my diva and me

i have been joking with members of 2v1g, telling them that they have to work extra hard to emulate the level that jz8 has achieved. call it friendly sibling rivalry but it is all done for the good of music.

those who are lucky to get a chance to listen to jz8 have all unreservedly given their thumbs-up. some even said lydia chew is better than cai qin (bet our diva doesn't like to be compared) and some said tay cher siang's piano is mesmerizing.

the recording is now 70% completed, we want to shoot for pre-CNY launch. it will be the 重頭戲 (main feature) of musictoxin and pop pop music in 2010!

Friday, November 27, 2009

前衛的美 [the beauty of being avantgarde]


i am not sure if music lovers know this trivia: when karen mok wanted to join rock records years ago, she submitted a demo of a cover version of emil chau (wakin) and immediately got the job, do you now what song it is?

it is 【濃情化不開】。this song is kept in one of the rock records' compilations. i regret so much that i didn't keep that cd.

eventho' karen doesn't get much recognition compared to many big shots, she remains an artiste true to the music. she attempted many things in the past which defy the chinese pop music tradition. my fave album of her remains her cantonese album "bared naked" [全身] with her lying, literally, bared naked on the cover front.

this time, she has decided to release an album totally on digital format, bypassing CDs. working together with her is one-time faye wong's producer zhang ya dong. zhang is famous for his fusion of electronica and indie chinese influences, and in this incredible album, he shows it to the maximum effect.

what is a good cover version? it is one that gives new lease of life to the old song and makes the listeners forget about the original. karen mok is a smart singer whot knows how to utilize her vocal skills to suit the different songs and moods of these predominantly folk covers.

for ordinary music lovers whose diet is the top 40 chinese pop, please approach this with caution, as it is way too avantgarde for normal consumption and radio air play!

many of the songs here are excitingly done. my personal choice would be zhou xuan [月圓花好][ (full moon) which lily chen also covered in her latest album with chris babida. the guy who arranges this song is a genius. he manages to maintain the classical structure of the song yet at the same time revamps it with better harmony, and karen's delivery is oh-so-wonderful. she teases and flirts with her vocals to great impact. that's the hallmark of an accomplished singer!




another great cover is qi qin 齊秦[外面的世界]. many singers don't dare to challenge qi qin because he is definitive in his music. but karen does something quietly beautiful here. she maintains the pathos and sadness of the song but sings it in her own inimitable way. just check out the video here!

teresa teng's [風從哪里來] (where the wind comes from) is fabulously done as well. this is ingenious arrangement that deserves clapping. this driving rhythmic bass line is so gorgeous and again karen adjusts her vocals to suit this classic oldie. really really fabulous work!

there are so many brilliant moments to savor. many overseas reviewers i respect also gave this a thumbs-up.

the chinese music scene is so tiring and dreary, it is great to have this sort of creative work to rejuvenate the jaded soul!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

沒有靈魂的翻唱 [boring moments]


this must rank as the greatest disappointment of the century.

so much hype, so much anticipation but what's offered is a soul-less, me-too covers presentation that leave me cold, damn cold.

no review is necessary.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

大師的肯定 [greatest endorsement]


Leslie.

The sonic quality of the 192/24 files was excellent. I have done my best to preserve that quality while transferring to the real world format of the compact disc.

The one track that seemed to have less air I think your artist and engineer will be surprized how well now it fits in.

Thank you for you trust and patronage.

Doug Sax

——————————————————————————————————————

dear doug,

wow! you actually wrote to me!!!! DOUG SAX WROTE TO ME! i can't believe it!

yes, we are a bunch of nutty audiophiles that have been in the hobby for over 20 years and we strongly believe in cables!

your reputation and contribution to the industry have been well documented and we are proud that we could afford doug sax to master our cd for us :-)

you may be proud to know that for our studio, we use exclusively stage III concepts cables, which is a cottage cable manufacturer from USA. we love their cables so very much and that explains the incredible sound you are hearing.

rest assured, i will continue engage your services for all our future albums. in fact, we will raise the bar in recording in all our future albums as we get more experienced with recording and mixing, coupled with the fact that better hardware and more stage III cables will be added in the near future.

thanks, doug, once again!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

回蔚無窮 [incredible mok]



i just managed to get a copy of this extremely hard-to-get album!

karen mok, the ever daring songstress, chose to cover some mainland traditional folk songs and the album is available only in mp3 (downloadable format) in china.

incredible is the word! love them all! it is really daring but still musical, avantgarde but still accessible... i am actually quite shocked that karen could turn the table on these covers....now, this is what i would call "ground-breaking".

if you trust me and if the reviewers are right, this is the best cover album in the market this year.

review to come shortly!

p/s jam hsiao's 【蕭敬騰】 cover album is coming out today in record shops too! we will do a comparison.

要做一张翻唱作品的专辑其实并不容易,要做一张将经典歌曲重新改造的翻唱专辑更不容易;其实在《拉活》专辑中她已经大胆创新,尝试将一些中外古今经典乐曲及她自己的创作糅合一起,《回蔚》将这个精神推往另外一个更高的层次。专辑中不但有中国音乐的精髓民族经典,还有欧洲古典歌剧跟中国民歌中西合璧的结合,当然不乏七、八十年代的经典华语流行歌曲,总括来说这是一张打破国界,收录最让人惊喜作品的专辑。而这一次选定翻唱的歌曲更是让人有惊喜的感觉,首波主打歌《打起手鼓唱起歌》就是一个最佳的例子,可能大部分的乐迷都想象不到Karen会跟这首民族经典有任何关联,其实 Karen早在2002年在南宁音乐节中曾经演唱过,当时反应极之良好,所以她这一次便决定重新演绎,务求让大家以一个不一样的角度聆听这首作品!

  《回蔚》的音乐制作班底更是史上最强的“铁三角”阵容;继上一次《密流》单曲跟张亚东合作过,二人在音乐上的理念十分相近,所以便立刻有感需要来一次完整的专辑合作!这一次他们更一起埋首为几首旧歌中加上全新创作的旋律,作品推出的时候将必引起触目。另外当然少不了和Karen合作无间的填词人李焯雄,为了要在旧歌的歌词中加上新词,想出关联并延伸其意思实在是很困难,不过功力深厚的李焯雄却从未让Karen失望过,大家请拭目以待!

  新元素和经典碰头,将必为乐迷带来视觉和听觉不一样的新冲击!希望大家都会在“回蔚”中找到属于您们感动! 

专辑取名《回蔚》,是希望借此让大家“回味”美好的往昔。这张专辑以翻唱老歌为主,除了《打起手鼓唱起歌》外,还重新演绎了“金嗓子”周璇的《月圆花好》,王洛宾的《在那遥远的地方》、《半个月亮爬上来》和邓丽君的《风从哪里来》等歌曲。

  《打起手鼓唱起歌》

  音乐节上首接触

  第一次唱民歌,莫文蔚说是在2002年,就是这首《打起手鼓唱起歌》。

  “本来我以前没听过这首歌的,是2002年参加南宁的音乐节,因为大家都要唱一些民歌,当时主办方就提议你可以唱这首歌啊,这首歌很好玩的啊,大家都爱这歌,结果我唱的时候自己很开心,大家跟着一起唱啊,叫啊什么的,因为大家都会唱。我听了以后觉得蛮有感觉的,结果我唱的时候自己很开心。我唱过这首就蛮有印象,所以这次想要弄个翻唱专辑,我第一首就要说我要唱这首歌,”莫文蔚手舞足蹈地说。

  《青山在》

  颁奖礼上的冲动

  唱过《打起手鼓唱起歌》后,莫文蔚对唱民歌来了兴趣,2006年金马奖颁奖典礼上,她又有了唱民歌的冲动。

  “那届金马奖我是表演嘉宾,我本来是准备跳扇子舞的,《扇子舞》是我之前跟伍佰合作专辑中的一首歌,比较电子舞曲。但我想加进一些台湾元素,结果我就想《高山青》、《阿里山的姑娘》可以糅进去喔,这样混搭的效果应该很好玩。结果出来的效果非常好,台湾的观众也觉得:哇,太有意思了!”莫文蔚兴奋地回忆。而这次专辑则收录了一首《青山在》。

  《半个月亮爬上来》

  唱歌剧,其实我是女高音

  嘿!混搭上瘾了啊!

  于是,莫文蔚又想对王洛宾的经典作品《半个月亮爬上来》“下手”了!

  “当我在设计如何演绎这首歌曲时,不知道怎么忽然想到了莫扎特的歌剧《唐璜》中的一段选曲,我其实没学过歌剧,只是以前在意大利留学,所以跟意大利有关的东西我都很感兴趣,就听过一些歌剧。当我想到《唐璜》时,就跟制作人张亚东建议,表演给他看,这样接这样,行不行,他就觉得‘哇,效果还蛮好的啊!’唱这首歌最大的作用就是,扭转了大家的观念,不知道为什么大家都认为我是唱中低音的,但都错了,其实我是女高音,不骗你,从小在学校合唱团的时候我一直是女高音,大家听听《半个月亮爬上来》中我的那段歌剧就知道了。”

专辑曲目:

01.打起手鼓唱起歌
02.青山在
03.在那遙遠的地方
04.外面的世界
05.月圓花好
06.風從那裡來
07.半個月亮爬上來
08.溜溜的情歌
09.茉莉花
10.紅
11.密流
12.密流(Remix)

Monday, November 23, 2009

馬來經典 [timeless]

if i get the solianos to nod their head in cutting an album for pop pop music , i would call the album "timeless" with the following songs for consideration, among others:






















this is only a partial list, any other suggestions by you? ;-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

杰出音樂家族 [discovery: the solianos]


check out the 2nd part where solianos sing "gadis idaman"

i was quite embarrassed of having discovered this amazing musical family so late, only two nights ago. if not for the heads-up by dali (malaysian finance blogger), i would have missed this great gig.

the solianos is the greatest musical family in malaysia. this prodigious family has been playing music for generations, here's an excerpt i took from google:

Arguably, the solianos is one of the most talented musical families in Malaysia, this will be the first time they have played together on stage for some years.


Alfonso Soliano is the man behind bringing this family into the limelight. Responsible for setting up what is today's Orkes RTM (Radio Television Malaysia), he was the official leader and conductor of the Radio Orchestra from March 1961 until 1966 when he left for Bangkok. In the same year he was awarded the Ahli Manku Negara by the Yang Di pertuan Agung for his musical contribution to the nation. During his Bangkok stint he was invited to participate at a jazz festival In Hamburg ,Germany. In 1973 he was awarded the Golden Record Award for his musical arrangements by the King of Thailand.


That same year returned to Malaysia and joined RTM as Arranger/Pianist and Deputy Director of Music.


The Soliano family band consisting of Isabella, Tristano, Rizal, Valentino. Coni and Irene led by Salvador Guerzo performed as a band from 1979 – 1990 at fine establishments such as the Regent hotel, Shangri-La hotel and The Royal Selangor Club, to name a few.


Their repertoire includes jazz numbers, popular tunes and standard music with vocal harmony being their forte. Although disbanded the band still performed together for private functions, Jazz Festivals and gigs. Currently Isabella, Coni and Don Alfonso Guerzo perform as a Jazz Trio and are the resident band at the Datai resort. They recently performed for the Yang di-Pertuan Agung and Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of Sweden during their visit to Malaysia.


the present solianos comprises of irene and tricia d'cruz on vocals, tristano on piano, valentino on bass, and rizal on drums. what amazes me is the musicality and individual talents of this tightly-knit family band. from irene soliano, the charismatic elder sister, to rizal soliano, the amazing drummer, to tricia soliano, the youngest and the one with the incredible voice, the soliano plays like a happy family with great 3-part harmony. the way they play, you know they have been at it for years and years and really enjoy the stage.


you know me, i am not impressed with all those western jazz standards which are done to death by million of singers, especially audiophile female singers. what excites me is the way the solianos inject new life into malay classics like "tudung periuk" and "tanah pusaka"with a decidedly jazz slant. my goodness, it was so glorious to hear those sweet harmonies coming from irene and tricia! i was mesmerized whenever they sing a malay song with this kind of jazz treatment.


so, what's the point of this post about solianos? you would have guessed it.... i really want to produce an album for/with them. their music fits into pop pop music's musical direction and image. this one will be a ground-breaking one: an audiophile album with malay classics of the 60s/70s/80s played in jazz! i really think audiophile and music lovers would love what the solianos can do to these golden malay classics. right off my mind, i want to cover "tudung periuk", "hujan di tengah hari", "widuri", "tanah pusaka", "rindu bayangan", or even modern malay ballads like "belaian jiwa"....


with so many projects lined up for next year, i am afraid i may be spreading myself too thin, financially and physically, but i will start talking to the solianos, via evelyn hii, no black tie's boss. it is a pity that musicians of this stature don't have many albums to their credit.


i hope this one will come true cos it is really an incredible project!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

人家說 [what others said about love's tapestry]


a short listening impression from dali, from the malaysian finance blog fame.

dali is a great music lover who regularly writes about the music he loves in his hugely popular blog about asian business, governance and stock market. dali is (in)famous for inserting gorgeous (and mostly seductive) pictures of asian beauties when he blogs about serious issue on malaysian finance....

I must say that I am honoured to be among the first few to get a sampling of Love's Tapestry. The songs were ballads from the 70s and 80s mainly, but taken down to a tender level, interspaced with the delicate guitar playing of Roger, coupled with the mature vocals of Gina, giving each song a fresh take. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you will love this album. Songs that you listened to when you slow danced, when you fell in love or were infatuated with someone, songs you listened to when you made the best friends ever, at a time where nobody wanted to rip you off, take advantage of you, a time when you made real friends ... The first song was the enchanting Fallen, given a samba feeling, and as Leslie said, the album starts off with falling in love and works itself into a loving relationship and the end comes heartbreak. My favourites include Just Tell Me You Love Me, a sublime and tender take on the England Dan & JF Coley classic - its more nuanced, slower and delicate than the original. The other has to be Still, originally by the Commodores, which I thought was too sparse as it left a lot of dead sound in the original - Gina's heartbreaking rendition added layers to the song coupled with Roger's sublime guitar play. The other worthy of mentioning was Roger's only instrumental piece, the Beatles' Here, There & Everywhere, the guitar phrasing and mood plucking was absorbing to say the least. Can't wait for the real thing ....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

封面曝光啦! [love's tapestry's cover unveiled!]


exposed! this is the cover of the limited edition (first press of 999 copies, all imported from hong kong) of love's tapestry!

retailing at RM62.90-RM65.90 (the final price will be determined by the quality of paper we choose), this limited edition is a hardcover booklet that comes with some glam shots of roger wang and gina panizales. it is also serialized with a unique number. to make it exciting fo you, if you order online, you can pick your lucky number from 2 to 999. just shoot an email to poppopmusic@yahoo.com to make your reservation. sorry, i have reserved number 1 for someone special!

besides, this is the virgin pressing, meaning it is the best sounding lot as subsequent batches would not not sound as good. audiophiles know this too well.

for those who can't afford to fork out this money, normal edition at RM42.90 would be released 3 weeks later. the normal edition is the 2nd batch and would not sound as great as the first batch and the packaging is "plain vanilla" ... this is for the non-audiophiles among you.

take your pick!

also, if we are lucky, we will have a detailed blow-by-blow technical analysis (including soundstaging and imaging analysis) of each track by audiophile guru joseph ki inside the cd inlay!

just how could you resist this?

note: we will put up a playlist for you to sample the songs end of this month.

翻唱天堂 [covers aplenty]



no prize for guessing what is the original song of this cover :-(

even mark lui (雷頌德)is joining the bandvagon of cover versions?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

哭了[emotional]


i remember vividly, 2 years ago, when i received the final mix for 2v1g from my engineer, vong, i wept in my car while i listened to some of the songs. it wasn't particularly a weakness in me but rather the culmination of mixed feelings of having something so precious realized. 2v1g was the beginning of a dream.

i have the same emotional roller-coaster when i listened to the final mix of love's tapestry just now. this time even more intense as this is my dedication to HER. there is not a single day gone by where i don't think of her. it is a love not to be forgotten, not in another lifetime.

love's tapestry also marks the maiden effort of pop pop music in venturing into the international audiophile music arena. not many people understand my philosophy in music making. but never mind, as long as you are touched by the music, i have successfully achieved my objectives.

love's tapestry has a lot of significance, simply because it heralds a new dawn for being the best recording ever made by a malaysian production (yes, we are very sure). from here onwards, we have to up the ante in every album we make in the future. every step forward must be better than the previous step. love's tapestry is already a huge jump from 2v1g, in terms of recording quality.

i put a lot of thoughts into the sequencing of the songs. it is almost like story telling that starts off sweetly, tapering off in the middle, and ends with the tragic "still" but hopeful resurrection of "bright eyes".

if you couldn't feel gina's helplessness, lost and intensity in "still" and "just once" then most likely you haven't loved before.

to those who have gone thru the trials and tributions of love and have come full circle in love and relationships, this album is dedicated to you too.

if you don't understand a thing above what gina is singing, never mind, just enjoy the music ;-)

love's tapestry is off to USA tomorrow for doug sax mastering.

we are on schedule.

熟男殺手 [middle-aged man killer]


jz8 officially starts its recording today and what a wait it has been!

i conceived jz8 on 8.8.2008 (that's how the "8" came about), the same day china olympics started, and the same day tay cher siang came to my house to discuss about the project.

it certainly has been a long wait but let me assure you, it is all worthwhile.

after months of practicing, our little diva, lydia chew, has found her preferred voice and tone. you know, being the country's number one backup vocalist, she has an arsenal of vocal skills and she has to choose one which fits the jz8 concept and direction.



lydia has a gorgeous and bassy tone that can make grown men cry. half way during the recording, impressed with her tonal delivery, i blurted out "翠玲簡直是個熟男殺手!" (translation: lydia is a true middle-aged man killer!) i meant to say with her good looks coupled with a killer voice, any mature man would sure surrender sweetly!

well, let's not minch my words, in my years of listening to chinese pop, i have never heard anything that sound like jz8. it is an exciting fusion of western jazz elements with modern chinese pop delivery. it is not avantgarde, nor it is conservative. if 2v1g is for the younger modern urban listeners, then jz8 is for the more mature (over 30) urban and yuppy listeners. but lydia was quick to remind me that in the 70s, richard yun (李察云), now in his 60s, also played like jz8 tay cher siang, so he is way ahead of his time.

jz8 is experimental, bold, unconventional, creative, slow, sparse, moody, funky, swingy and above all, jz8 makes great music.

Monday, November 16, 2009

新島 bossa 天后踢館 [olivia kicking butts]

audiophile singer cum bossa queen from singapore, olivia ong, has been kicking some butts in taiwan's major singing competition 星光大道!

the pretty and classy olivia has been beating her competitors one by one and all the judges were mighty impressed with her voice and poised performance.





the last i heard about olivia is that she has left s2s (the japanese label that is headquartered in singapore) and joined a china audiophile label.

what a pretty lass!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

頭痛! [headache!]


the dreadful thing about being a one-man band is you have to do the nitty gritty office work all by yourself. how i wish i could afford a young and nubile PA at my disposal.

i am now facing the biggest headache - to find the publisher information (original publisher (OP) and sub publisher (SP)) for all these songs we cover. this is an important piece of information we need to publish in the inlay of the cd. so far, the record labels we approached haven't been that helpful. our distributor interglobal is not getting much progress either.

so i have to do it on my own, something which i hate. i am never an office person doing this kind of work that requires patience and meticulousness.

so i resort to google. i found ASCAP website, which is supposedly the american society of composers, authors and publishers. it has a searchable database which one can search by song title, composers or performers....

needless to day, i don't have much luck!

readers who are in the music industry, can you point me to the right source?

老了 [of chinese pop concerts and ageing]


these days, hardly any chinese (be in canto or mandarin) concerts can excite me, let alone make me buy the tickets. i have been to all, you name it. most of the times, i get free complimentary tickets and the reason i go is not always for the music. well, if it is held in genting, at least i could find a reason to savour the frog leg porridge in gotong jaya and enjoy the fresh air ... you know what i mean?

last night i was at genting again for the william so and andy hui double bill concert. i made the decision to attend after much deliberation. it took me more than a week to decide. i am not really a fan of either, eventho' i do like william so for some of the older canto hits. andy hui is not really my cup of tea. so i wasn't sure whether it will be a waste of my time. it does not help by the fact that i really hate arena of stars, which i think is a poorly-maintained, low-class venue.

yes, the canto hits came abashedly but i was hardly moved. i guess my aural senses have been numbed by so much thrash coming out from the chinese music scene for the past 2-3 years. i yearn for something simpler, more intimate, more basic, more down-to-earth, more acoustic, more sincere, less noise, more fidelity, more heart, more soul, more music....

it does not help by the suck-ass sound system. the bass was pounding at more than 100db; it was really assaulting my precious pairs of ears.

to be fair, the concert had its moments, especially when william so sang some of his old favourites but i was thinking to myself, wouldn't it be great if i were to re-arrange these songs into acoustic, stripped-down format? haha. that's really occupational hazard in me. the pop pop music occupational hazard!

i guess that's the last of the chinese pop concert i would go.

the only dream concert i want to attend is eason chan unplugged, in an intimate acoustic setting, played in a small venue with superb acoustics, if ever he wishes to do a concert like this.

but hey, haven't i already bought the ticket for sandy lam concert on 28th november?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

創世紀 [history in the making]


we just evaluated the mixing for the last session, what can we say, holy moly, it is an incredible recording!

with this quality of recording, pop pop music is confident of shouting to the world that "malaysia definitely boleh", corny as it may sound.

apart from the exquisite tonality, it has world-class, pinpoint imaging, image specificity, good separation and layering, and the musicianship of the trio (roger wang, peter lau and wan) is simply great.

it is hard to remain sober and calm when something this good is produced but i would remain sober and calm, since this is a virtue i wish to cultivate in me. so i won't show too much elation here except to urge you to get a copy, or maybe more copies (as the first batch is limited edition), when it is out on 18th december! just for your info, we have received pre-orders totalling 50 copies as i write.

whether you like gina panizales' voice is truly a matter of personal preference but it is not likely that you won't like this recording, that much we can assure you.

history is in the making and we are part of it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

超浪漫[so romantic]



this is the quality of photography from our exclusively appointed photographer, horng yih!

so, can you expect anything less from our packaging this time? ;-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

殺青! [it's a wrap!]



we wrapped up the recording of love's tapestry with a stunning performance from everyone - "i will never love this way again" (a dionne warwick classic)! gina's rendition is so moving that i could see her almost on the brink of weeping. even the visiting friends just now were impressed with this song.... thumbs-up to everyone in the team!

so post production work begins immediately. we are working on an extremely tight schedule with just slightly over a month to go with several key factors involved : mastering in USA and duplication in HK... anyway, we have good vibes that there won't be delay.

watch out too for a touching guitar solo from roger wang a la larry carlton in his classic album "alone, but never alone".

you are going to listen to an incredible album come 18th dec 2009~!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

愛,延續 [love goes on]


this is the first time i recorded a trio. i think from now on, i would insist on a mixture of instruments, eventho' the structure remains minimalist and sparse. i think this realization came after i witnessed the participation of cellist jonathan in "still" and "bright eyes". his cello sound is simply amazing. also, now that our engineer is getting experienced with audiophile requirements, i am more confident with multiple instruments in trio or quartet setting.

session two and the last session enlisted the helped of double bassist, van, from the RTM orchestra and peter lau from labuan, a great drummer and a buddy of roger wang. the setting of the trio allows us to play more rhythmic songs like "fallen" and "i won't last a day without you", both were great bossa tunes that provide a contrast and mode change for the rest of the slow songs.



the fist day was spent on practising the 5 remaining songs. initially, we were worried that there may be too many slow songs but after this session, we are confident that it wont be the case, as almost every song is different hence the variety and change of tempo is there.

joseph ki was visibly pleased with the chemistry of the trio. he too, thinks that there is enough variety in the repertoire, in order for it not to sound monotonous and boring.

i must tell you how glad i was for having chosen "fallen" and "i won't last a day without you" because these are great great songs that haven't been covered by audiophile singers and they provide the perfect starters for a romantic story. in fact, i would sequence the songs in the album in the same way as telling a sad love story. you know what i mean, boy meets girl, boy falls in love... blah blah blah and the ultimate separation and longing... how sad :-(

the day ended with everyone being exhausted.

we wish to wrap up the last session with some fireworks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

第一次 [the first time i ever saw your face]

cd cover shooting at chef & brew

certain things are meant to be. i first saw you in 1999. i was so smitten. i wanted to get to know you so much but as fate had it, i had to wait 10 years before i finally got to know you as a friend.



it all happened on the fateful evening of christmas eve 2008 at chef & brew, epicure, damansara heights.

the three of you were wearing low-cut dress on that night. i was like going gaga. three gorgeous women in front of me, each with her own personality, uniqueness and beauty. i couldn't believe that finally we met face-to-face, talking, eating and breathing the same air.

your smiles were the biggest killer i had ever seen. bright, mega-wattage, captivating, sweet... it has the kind of child-woman seductiveness that is simply irresistible. every time you smile, the world lit up and i see heaven in in your eyes... i see the most beautiful angel descended on earth....




we talked music all night. it was how it all a started.



love's tapestry is inspired by you and dedicated to you. every song in this album has a story and every one of them is a gem. gina breathes new life into these timeless classics. some of the songs were just too heartbreaking and they ache me every time i listen to them. there are a couple of happy songs too and i am sure you will like them too.

i remember you thanked me for introducing all these 80s great love songs to you. i was so happy to hear those words from you.

time stood still when you sang for me with your guitar on the many nights we were together. those tunes would remain fresh in my mind for the rest of my life.

knowing the circumstances, our separation is inevitable. we will leave it to fate whether we can be friends again in years to come. another time, another day, another place.

eventho' we didn't end up together but you gave me the best part of my life that is worth cherishing forever.

his beautiful album is our story. roger and gina are merely the story tellers. i am proud we have something to remember our friendship by.

love's tapestry is a moment in time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

憶蓮盛放 [tribute to sandy lam]


it has been a glorious two months indulging in lots of music and concert dvds.

michael buble, coldplay, celion dion, bee gees, olivia newton john, david foster, quincy jones, sandy lam, tiger huang (xiao hu)... so many have touched my heart but there is only one who could raise my goosebumps and make me weep (silently).

and she is none other than sandy lam, my forever diva.

so it is only natural i do a tribute album (audiophile album some more!) to sandy lam.

it will be half cantonese and half mandarin. actually, i am closer to her cantonese songs but i know my singers prefer her mandarin stuff. never mind, we will strike a balance.

i will use this milestone project to test my inhouse arranger' skills, whether he is as good as mac chew, sandy's preferred arranger. bob, you are going to have a tough time living up to my expectations!

there will be at least two singers for this tribute album. i already have the person in mind.

since sandy lam will be coming down for a concert next month, i will try to get in touch with her agent (using my connections) and ask her for an endorsement! gee, maybe she will be so grateful that she would do a song for us! wishful thinking.

some of the canto songs i wish to cover are:

1) 早晨
2) 哭
3) 長街的一角
4) 細水長流 (cover)
5) 微涼
6) 因你瘋了 

if that doesn't excite you, i don't know what will ;-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

歌在呼吸 #5 [song we cherish #5]

一首令人感動得落淚的好歌; 滄海遺珠。

i don't even know who the original singer 蔡齡齡 is but sandy lam covered it superbly in her 2005 concert. sandy says it is one of her personal faves, she is especially touched by the lyrics...

it was so moving that even sandy cries halfway during the song... her rendition is way better than the original singer featured in this video.

you don't find lyricist like 林振強 anymore. so sensitive, so poetic.

this is the kind of song to celebrate true love.

我們的友情會細水長流嗎?



細水長流 --- 蔡齡齡


不管為何 沿途如何 它都長流
鐵和石也可割破 這是過山的河水
它奔馳流流流 不管嗟跎
為流入滔滔大海 方會安心而存在

不管為何 沿途如何 它都長流
我懷內那些愛 也像這一江河水
永為你也永向你一生奔流
現時 昨天 將來都也因你而存在

*若你雙眼是深海 你已經浸沒我
誰令我現能去愛 你有否知道麼
我感激我們遇見 在今生像河與海
你那臂彎融匯結合我 盛我在內

#若有天要被分開 我遠山也踏破
尋辦法又流向你 你會否等我麼
你可知每凝望你 便彷彿像河看海
你那暗湧如在叫喚我 喚我入內
(怎可不奔向你)

天空晴時 雷霆來時 它都長流
似懷著某種意志 這是過山的河水
它奔馳流流流 始終堅持
為流入滔滔大海 方會安心而存在
天空晴時 雷霆來時 它都長流
我懷內那些愛 也像這一江河水
永為你也永向你一生奔流
現時 昨天 將來都也因你而存在
Repeat *#
Repeat *##

試聽派對 [listening party]


every parent would have a full-moon party for their newborn.

the same case with this struggling producer.

i am talking about inviting you all to a listening party for my soon-to-be-released audiophile album, at our sponsor's place, CMY Naim Gallery on the 6th december 2009, first sunday in december, tentatively. in conjuntion with that, CMY will also be launching the new dynaudio speakers.

depending on the number of attendees, we may run multiple sessions.

i have made an announcement in several forums and blogs.

i will also be holding a listening party at my house, with my system but that is for the press and media and record shop retailers.

i am going to ask john yew, the boss, to sponsor some finger food, besides the prerequisite drinks, how about that?

i will be playing the master CD for love's tapestry, fresh from doug sax mastering. for those who don't know who doug sax is, time to do some homework ;-) for your info, the master cd is at least 20-30% better in sound quality than the commercial version that is available in the record shops.

i am trying to think of other surprises for you, to entice you to come.

yeah, mark your calendar, 6th december 2009. it is gonna be fun.

you may have to register with CMY but that will happen when the date gets nearer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

師父教落 [master class]



we scrutinized the mixing together for the first time using my system last night.

my engineer vong and joseph ki were all present. fortunately my system was sounding good as well, thereby allowing the three of us to make critical assessment.

it was a master class tutorial for us, as jo ki explained to vong what he expects in a good mix. he wants the following, in no particular order:

1) homogeneity - meaning that all musicians+singer must exist in the same aura, breathing in the same space

2) organicity - particularly in vocals. the wholeness of the voice must be preserved with as little interference/adjustment as possible. in mixing, this is not easy, especially in one-take recording as a little bit of adjustment here and there, no matter small it is, would alter the whole sound spectrum.



3) soundstage panning & sculpting - this i have explained in previous post. in fact, in this area, jo is a champ, so much more critical than i am. he wants front-to-back layering, separation and 3-dimensional space. soundstage must exist totally free and away from the speakers.

4) balancing - this is hard to explain. basically it means that every musician+ singer must have his/her cloud of air in equal proportion. because of mixing techniques, some engineer can make the left side of a musician/singer having more air than the right side, thus creating uneven balance of air.

suffice to say, vong did a splendid job that meets most of jo's expectations. this chap improves very fast under the master!

we actually concluded that with such high quality of mix, doug sax's job would be so easy. in fact, we expect doug sax to be surprised with such high quality work from unknown country (to a guru like him) like malaysia!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

加了糖的周璇 [saccharine zhou xuan]


anyone here heard of zhou xuan? she was the first chinese pop diva in the 1950s, if ever there was someone more deserving of the word "diva". zhou xuan sings like a chirpy nightingale with a melodious voice, albeit rather high-pitched. many singers in later generations have covered her songs but very few come close in emulating her style and musicality.

i am not quite a fan of either chris babida nor lily chen. lily, in particular, strikes me as a singer with a sweet voice and not much else. she did have her moments with some of her covers of teresa teng, especially the album "yat sui kak tin ngai" (cantonese title). but i know many of my friends like her a lot.

i recently watched her maiden concert in hk in dvd. it was a terribly boring one. true, the voice is so sweet but she lacks emotional depth, musicality and stage persona. song after song, she sings with the same technique and almost the same tempo. chris is a veteran musician who gained prominence in the audiophile community after his famous collaboration with cai qin and his greatest ballad "xin bu liao qing" (endless love), which can be considered as one of the best modern chinese ballads of all times.

how should i view this album? well, in all fairness, chris babida did try to change the arrangement to create a fresh interpretations of these famous shi dai qu (oldies) but it does not go down well with me. in fact, most of the times, he went overboard and messed up the songs.

listen to tracks like "when will you come back to me?", "singing girl" and even my favorite "forever smile" (which jz8 is covering). chris's arrangement is way too bold (and even alternative) that it robs the song of its melody. instead, listeners are drawn to his avantgarde arrangement style and stop listening to lily!

good moments can be found in songs where chris goes traditional and conservative in his arrangement. piano-based tracks like "four seasons", "full moon & flowers" and "fisherman's daughter" and his own norah jones-inspired composition "sentiment" are good and this is the kind of arrangement that will let lily chen settle in and sing comfortably.

as for lily's singing, what can i say, except that she doesn't draw me into the music. i keep searching for that magic moment but sorry la, i couldn't find any. her biggest problem is that she lacks musicality and soul. to be harsh about it, she does not have enough chemistry with chris babida. this cd has been left on my desk for more than a week and yet i don't have the urge to spin it.

it is always challenging to do zhou xuan because she is so definitive and untouchable. i fully understand chris babida's intention to revamp these oldies but personally i would prefer a less adventurous but still creative approach.

as for recording, it is just so-so, a bit veiled with not enough transparency and details. chris babida is reluctant to reveal the recording equipment he uses in his new studio as he believes that one shouldn't be affected by the hardware and should instead listen to the music.

still, this album will sell on its own because it is a lily chen album.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

關于瑞鳴 [about rhymoi, a chinese audiophile label ]



2 months ago, i wanted to go into audiophile cd distribution and i started doing some research on china audiophile music labels. never a fan of those pedestrian chinese female vocals from mainland china, little did i know there was this label called "rhymoi music" that has been turning heads, attracting even media attention from the west.

so i contacted the boss, mr. ye. from correspondence mr. ye is one sincere and passionate music lover. he said the audiophile music label is never an easy business to manage. i told him my intention to carry "the best audiophile label from china" and showed him my background, he gladly agreed to let pop pop music be the national distributor of rhymoi products in malaysia.

further research into the malaysian market for china cd shows that this market is already saturated with gray imports, parallel imports and pirated cds. for the sake of business confidentially, i won't mention here who are the "bad seeds" in this china-made audiophile cd distribution business in malaysia. suffice to say that this business has reached a dead-end with even retail shops (like speedy, victoria and cd rama) rejecting china products.

so i reluctantly rejected mr ye's offer to carry his products in malaysia.

anyway, back to music. the first time i heard rhymoi cd was in jo ki's house when he played "the three kingdom" 【三國】. i was very impressed with the atmospheric ambience, vividness of the instruments and the transparency of the whole recording. but i am never a fan of chinese classical music so i didn't buy the cd.

later when "dream of an opera" 【粉墨是夢】 came into the market, that was when the whole world woke up to the might of rhymoi. this recording is remarkable in capturing the "live" and "life" of the recording. the dynamic headroom, intensity and transparency in this cd is truly amazing, surpassing even the best from previous champion labels like hugo. needless to say, this cd sells by the truckloads.

rhymoi actually fuses the chinese instruments with a bit of the western influences, there lies the attraction of its music. this kind of music really appeals to the mainstream audiophiles, especially chinese-educated ones. the production is always big-scale, with ensemble numbering 10-20 musicians... maybe that's why mr. ye said production costs for his albums are high.

china is a land of amazing talents. a humble label like ryhmoi has shown the world how to do audiophile recordings the right way. if rhymoi has the right marketing then it would rule the world easily.

i hope to pay them a visit soon!

[survey - feedback are welcome!]

do you want pop pop music to carry rhymoi products online?