Tuesday, June 28, 2011

温柔的周华健 [wakin's tender moments]

every singer must attempt at least a cover version album once in their lifetime. it is by singing other people's songs, you would then discover how well you interpret them in your own ways, and how difficult it is for you to emulate the original singers.

on that account, wakin (emil chow) did quite wonderfully, in his latest cover album, entitled "diva" (hua tan).

let's not discuss whether it is an audiophile album or whether the recording is great, because the line is blurred now. many cover albums are audiophile albums, many audiophile albums are cover albums. the most important thing is whether the music is good.

firstly, we think the choice of songs are great, especially the first half. wakin scores with his gentle vocals in zhou xuan's "tian ya ge nu" (vagabond songstress), teresa teng's "tian mi mi" (sweet nothings) and tracy huang's "ku sha" (crying sands). he doesn't purposely soften his voice to suit these songs but rather he puts in his own delicate emotions and his thoughts. we greatly love the arrangement of "tian mi mi" and the way wakin sings it; he totally reinvents and breathes new life into this over-sung classic. "tian mi mi" is easily the best track in the album. winnie ho, please listen to how wakin sings this song, so that you would do something better in your august concert of teresa teng, can you?   
"nu ren hua" (women are like flowers), originally sung by anita mui, is also delivered with ample tenderness and sensitivity. the opera singing offers a great twist to this classic ballad.

many think wakin can't emulate winnie sin and jonathan lee in "ling wu" (realization), which is true, for winnie and jonathan's rendition are already definitive and jonathan being the composer, he surely knows how to sing it his way. but wakin's live version is not bad, although you can't quite feel how heart-wrenching he is when he sings this heart-breaking song. 

wakin puts in a lot of efforts in this album. compared to our favourite cover album in recent years, karen mok's "reminisce" (hui wei), wakin's album is safer and less grond-breaking but nonetheless highly satisfying. at the same time, we would like to congratulate karen mok for winning this year's best female singer in golden melody award in taiwan last week. when we tell you she is good, you better believe it ;-)

so "diva" is gentle, tender and full of sensitivity. it is something you can share it with your girlfriend.  


Monday, June 27, 2011

酒廊音乐 [everything goes loungy]

read the reviews below and draw your own conclusion ;-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

与 solianos 共度一晚 [an evening with the solianos]

there seems to be no activities after the solianos pusaka launch. not so, we are taking our own sweet time, sinking  in our inner thoughts to plan carefully for the future.

besides, with a classic album like pusaka, there is no hurry to host gigs or concerts. the music is perennial and long-lasting. it won't fade away.
but we are now ready to host a musical showcase!

let's call it "an evening with the solianos", we want it to be intimate and fun, and not grand or distant so we avoid using the term "concert", also because we are going to celebrate an early christmas with you.

so, mark down this date: 17th december 2011. venue is bentley music auditorium.

we have 6 months ahead so there is no excuse for not having an excellent show!

more updates along the way, people!

隽永的周博华 [timeless paul wah]

we recommended paul wah's "timeless" album highly recently in this space. immediately after the launch of the album, she followed up with a solo concert in klpac last night.

it is her 20th year in showbiz and this is only her first concert so it is a precious opportunity for her to gather her fans and music lovers to share some intimate moments with her.

again, tay cher siang is enlisted to be the musical director, only this time he added a string quartet to the ensemble. mr. tay is everywhere nowadays, a clear indication that he has reached wide acceptance as an accomplished musical director, arranger and consummate pianist.

paul wah's presentation is very direct and intimate, absolutely no frills. she narrated as she sang along, a mixture of old and new songs, some her compositions in her early days and some cover versions.

she has a good voice that lends a natural clarity to songs like those hits from qi yu  【齐豫】in the early 80s.

but the less-than-ideal sound system does rob a bit of involvement from us. the sound of most instruments sounded like they were hitting on rubber. the string quarter was particularly "wasted" having no clarity, sheen and absolutely no "woodiness". which was such a pity because paul wah really put her heart in rendering her music.

it is rare to see such musically sincere showcases nowadays. paul wah gets our utmost respect for being a singer who just wants to sing her songs and tells her stories.

Monday, June 20, 2011

亚庇我们爱你! [kk, we love you!]

shangri la tanjung aru beach resort: a million dollar view

was it a jazz fest or was it a getaway holiday? i think it is more of the latter cos we had a ball of a time in kota kinabalu!

frankly, we didn't have any expectations of how the jazz fest was gonna be and how kk will be treating us. both surprised us tremendously. the jazz fest was a blast and kk is such a wonderful place.

let's start with kk. it is a unique city unlike many cities in malaysia. it has its unique character and its own charm. in fact, kk is like one big resort city to us. the people are nice, the pace of life a bit sleepy and most of all, we could feel music everywhere we go.

kk has a lot of buildings and architecture which are quite unique, just like penang, ipoh, melaka do in their own ways. there are not many cars on the road and it is not densely populated like kl, pj. and what's more, it is close to the sea! it was when we visited the beach, we realized "jesselton" as mentioned in pete teo's song "jesselton tonight" is the old name for kk!

a few of us and the ladies are charmed by the cheap massage services offered in the vicinity of the hotel.  the ladies actually tried fish "spa" which was quite an experience, according to them.

The outside of RAM studio, Damai, KK

we took the opportunity to visit roger wang's studio, the RAM studio, having heard so much about it for so long. this is the studio where roger recorded the debut double take album with mia palencia. we plan to do our future recordings here too. RAM is very warm, cosy and rustic, just like the boss himself. we could understand roger's musical journey more just by browsing around the studio. this is the 11th year for RAM and roger has plan to spruce up some of the furnishings.

visit to roger wang's RAM studio

The framed cd is Jacky cheung's present  for roger: his canto jazz album "private corner" in which Jacky covers  roger's song " love scale". It sure means a lot to roger Wang!

there are many interesting memorabilia in the studio. it includes a framed-up CD, autographed by jacky cheung, given by the cantopop king himself to roger as a present for using roger's song "love scale" in his canto-jazz album "private corner". you can tell that roger is very proud of it. we could also see roger's photo with tommy emmanuelle, his mentor and idol. in fact, roger's endorsement of maton guitars is largely influenced by tommy, in case you don't know!

look at the young roger wang!

a moment in history all framed up: roger wang jamming with his idol tommy emmanuel

poster parade in roger's studio: guess which album of his sells the most?

kk jazz fest press conference at the theatre in sutera harbour
the kk jazz fest's press conference was attended by at least 8 members of the press. the newspapers in kk are all different from west malaysia. no the star, no NST, no malay mail but sabah times!
it was a very long press conference as every artiste/musician was asked to speak about what impression he/she wants to leave with the audience. zyan, speaking in english, was in her confident self. she said "being the first chinese bossa nova singer, i want people to appreciate bossa nova done in chinese". she is also the only chinese singer in the event!

sound check: the big guy in the middle is stephen lim, jacky cheung's ex-recording engineer

we didn't attend the sound check but kudos to stephen lim, the former recording engineer of jacky cheung, the sound was great for the two nights. it was well projected, not too noisy and just right in volume and clarity for the medium-size venue.

the covered tennis courts in sutera harbour is the great venue. roger wang couldn't have done a better job in the stage setting. roger was also smart to enact a centre platform/stage to shift the crowd's attention away from the main stage. it was a great success, especially for "smaller" act, like australian one-man band juzzie smith, which was easily the crowd's favourite.
another smart idea is to have partial fixed seating, partial movable seating  to allow plenty of walking room for those who don't want to sit. the atmosphere was carnival and party-like, truly great for an event like this.

organizers who aspire to do future jazz festivals should really learn from kk jazz fest in the way they set up the stage, the stalls and crowd control.

roger wang, you have done a wonderful job! 

local newspaper's coverage on kk jazz fest

bandwidth: the local independent musiczine

Can you guess the birthday girl and boy?
princess and wvc trio at the airport
The main stage

Me and princess waiting for the press conference to commence

photo courtesy of sham

photo courtesy of nasier lee

wvc trio+1 with julian chan on sax was absolutely convincing. cher siang and his trio were in their elements and were firing on all cylinders. wvc has firmly establshed itself as the most talented jazz outfit  in malaysia and their intensive touring has allowed them to mature as a group. cher siang's increasing sensitivity allows him to balance between artistry and commercial appeal, in order to make wvc trio appeal even to non-hardcore jazz fans. at times, wvc trio even borders on easy listening!  

finally, our bossa princess, zyan, who gave a very solid performance, winning applause from the crowd, song after song. the audience was obviously intrigued by how bossa nova can be sung in chinese. zyan's voice, altho' a bit nervous, has a great tone on the night and as usual, she looked good on stage. zyan's is one singer who has a great potential and we would groom her along with more exposures on big stage and big arena. we sold 20+ brasileiro CDs that night, not a bad figure for a chinese artiste!   

for a detailed write-up on the performances, we would refer you to joanna funk's sabah songs music blog.

joanna is a fiercely passionate independent music writer and she contributes tremendously to the development of sabah music scene. this blog has great photography too!

靡靡情怀开始了! [jazzy sound of teresa teng starts here!]

The Chinese in China once said: “We greatly respect two persons by the same surname: We listen to Deng Xiao Ping in the daytime but Teresa Teng at night time ”. This is a testament of how influential Teresa Teng was in her prime.  

We don’t think there is a more famous Chinese musical icon than Teresa Teng, and a more widely covered Chinese singer than Teresa Teng.

Fact is, most singers, past and present, try hard to imitate her, whether in vocals or gestures, with varying degree of success.

At pop pop music, we avoid all the competition and comparison by creating our own interpretation of Teresa Teng, a more westernized and modern Teresa Teng, if you will. Yet, we pay respect to her work and stay faithful to the sweet melodies.
Led by Pianist and musical director Tay Cher Siang, aided by famed Sabahan guitarist Roger Wang, with vocals from the petite-yet-impressive Winnie Ho from 2V1G and her friends, this musical showcase promises a familiar yet refreshing Teresa Teng, one that you seldom get to hear.

Tickets on sale starting today, 20th June 2011 (Monday)!

Ticketing Info:

Concert Date: 6th August 2011 (Saturday)

Venue: Bentley Music Auditorium, Mutiara Damansara

Price: RM105 & RM85 (See Seating Plan. Only RM105 (blue colored zone) has seating numbers. Seat allocation for RM85 (yellow colored zone) will be done at auditorium entrance based on arrival. )

Ticketing Outlets: CDRAMA (Popular Bookstore) Ikano Power Centre (03-77259180

CDRAMA, Sunway Pyramid (03-56377280/7286)

CDRAMA, Cheras Leisure Mall (03-91322435/437)

Loud+Clear, Solaris Dutamas (03-62111683)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

亚庇, 我们来了 [what to do in kk]

we will be flying to kk tomorrow night to participate in the annual kk jazz fest, and what's is topmost in our minds, besides enjoying the two-day show, is the food in kk!

roger wang has promised to return flavor as a host, since this is our first time visiting him in kk. he has been to kl countless times and we played good host by taking care of his food.

at the same time, we get to visit roger's studio, the RAM studio. it is where all the double take albums are recorded. we also plan to do our recording in RAM in the future.

any readers from kk here?  what are the good food in kk and what are the must-visit places in kk?

we expect a full-filled time!

愤怒鸟 [angry bird]

what to do when you are bored in between recordings.

look at the almost similar posture and movement. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

被误解的不爽 [hate to be misunderstood]

we do have some supporters who really understand what we do but we do have some who don't and they keep asking us "funny" questions...

here's two most commonly asked questions that constantly amuse and frustrate us at the same time....

1) why is that your cd needs louder volume to sound good and the CHINA-made cd  can sound loud even with little volume?

2) 2v1g-1 is the best recording of all your albums because it sounds the best in my system.

answer to question number 1 is simply: china made CD pushes up the gain in order to sound loud. this is called the "loudness war" that we have mentioned time and time again. in today's pop and rock recordings, engineers are forced to sacrifice dynamic to go for the "loudest" sound in order to fit iPods, iPhones and other mp3 players. this "loud" sound seemingly gives more sensation to the less discerning ears on these inferior-sounding devices.

the down side is of course, it is very flat sounding because the the loudest and the softest level (called dynamic contrast) is compressed. when played on a high-fidelity equipment, this kind of recording also sounds rough, edgy and noisy but only 0.00001% music lovers own high-fidelity sound systems so who bothers? the recording and mastering engineers have no choice but forced by their clients to cater to market's demands!      

china made audiophile CDs, especially, also trades on this "cheeky" behaviour as most audiophiles don't have good and balanced systems. excessively bright and hard high frequencies always sound good in cheaper equipment. first impression counts. this kind of sound always impresses the newbies and those who don't have good experience. it is easy to fool them.

doug sax's mastering, especially, is very rich and supple. it needs a louder volume/gain to fully come alive. this is the hallmark of great recording because it has plenty of dynamic headroom and you need loud gain to fully appreciate its glory. listen to jz8 and pusaka, which were both mastered by doug sax and compared to 2v1g-1, 2v1g-2 and brasileiro, which were mastered by keith yip. doug sax's mastering is fuller and richer, whereas keith's is more immediate and naturally "brighter". which also means, on lesser systems, keith yip's mastering would sound better as it would be "louder", "clearer" and more "immediate".     

the answer to question 2 is: 2v1g-1 album was recorded in a very modest studio with modest hardware, now already defunct. it is a great recording, no doubt, but  it has some characteristic of "hardness" and "brightness" that admittedly sounds great on systems lacking of these characteristics. the brightness of roger wang's guitar was very impressive on systems lacking of highs but once you play on a higher-calibre system, the hardness reveals itself as being very "digital" and "brittle". 

we have gone a long way from this kind of recording. there's no way we could even dream of going back to such basic and rough recording standards!

Friday, June 10, 2011

我们需要赞助商 [we need sponsors]

dear readers, 

whether you are an individual or a high-power senior manager, you have this passion in music. you understand that the journey of making good music is fraught with financial difficulties. 

we would like to seek sponsorship from you or your company to make our concert in august a reality.

even if you are not a decision maker, we hope that you could connect us with the decision maker in your company.   

we know this is hard and far-fetched but without trying, we would never know!

Dear Sir/Madam

Music is a universal language that breaks barriers and enriches the soul, especially in chaotic times like these.

Pop pop music is widely regarded as one of the most exciting and successful independent music labels in Malaysia, who, besides producing quality albums, also organizes its own series of thematic concerts and musical showcases.

We recognize the fact that being Malaysians, we have a rich tapestry of music that combines a diverse culture and an exciting mix of languages.

Our musical agenda is to revive evergreen and classic pop music  – be it Chinese, English or Malay - with modern flavors like Jazz and Bossa Nova, not only to give the mature listeners a refreshing interpretation but also to attract and influence young music lovers who want a modern flavor in these well-sung classics.

Our upcoming concert in August, aptly named “the Jazzy Sound of Teresa Teng” will be done with such intention. We have maestros Roger Wang on guitar (Famed Sabahan Finger-Style guitarist) and Tay Cher Siang (famed Jazz pianist and Musical Director) on Piano and a very talented vocalist in Winnie Ho (Astro Talent Quest 2000 champion).  This fantastic team of musicians is going to jazz up some of the most well-known Teresa Teng songs.

We are seeking corporate buyers like your organization to participate in our corporate buying program. Please see the attachment for more details on this exclusive program.

Your support in this program will go a long way in supporting local Malaysian talents and at the same time, providing your organization a creative way to reward your most valued clients.     

We are partnering with Bentley Music Sdn Bhd for all our concert programs. Their vision and support in our program will ensure that we will have a top-notch and classy venue that goes hand-in-hand with our label’s artistic image, premium branding and quality music.

Thank you for your support.

Leslie Loh

Leslie Loh
Pop pop music

Thursday, June 9, 2011

靡靡之音:曲目 [the repertoire]

                                                       jazzing up teresa teng

  1. 难忘的初恋情人 (nan wang de chu lian qing ren: unforgettable first love)
  2. 忘记他 (wang ji ta: forgetting him)
  3. 我怎能离开你 (wo zhen neng li kai ni: how can I leave you)
  4. 泪的小雨 (lei de xiao yu: raining tears)
  5. 月儿像柠檬 yue er xiang ning meng: the moon shines like lemon
  6. 千言万语 (qian yan wan yu: a thousand words))
  7. 月亮代表我的心 (yue liang dai piao wo de xin: the moon represents my heart
  8. 丝丝小雨 (shi shi xiao yu: rain)
  9.  奈何 (nai he: ambivalence)
  10. Goodbye my love   
  11. 在水一方 (zai sui yi fang)
  12. 甜蜜蜜 (tian mi mi: sweet honey)
  13. 云河 (yun he: river of clouds)
  14. 温情满人间 (wen qing man ren jian: this world is full of love)
  15. 风从哪里来 (feng cong nai li lai: where does the wind come from)
  16. 但愿人长久 (dan yuan ren chang jiu: let’s pray  for eternity)
  17. 君心我心 (jun xin wo xin: your heart, my heart)
  18. 一个小心愿 (yi ge xiao xin yuan: a little wish) 
  19. 我只在乎你wo zhi zai hu ni: I only care for you)
  20. 世界多美丽 (shi jie dou mei li: the world is beautiful)

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    就快售票咯! [jazzy sound opens for booking soon!]

    after some prompting by a friend, we have decided to drop the word "decadent" and replace it with "jazzy" so the full title of the concert now is "the jazzy sound of teresa teng".

    yes, a different teresa teng! the teresa teng perceived and conceived by pop pop music stellar's cast of musicians.

    winnie ho, tay cher siang and roger wang are going to titillate your aural senses with some familiar and yet refreshing tunes from teresa teng....

    date is 6th of august, bentley music auditorium as usual .

    we are open for booking next wednesday!

    好感动 [very touching]

    brilliant. brilliant. brilliant.

    is it because i am going thru some emotional roller coaster today, that i find emil chau wakin's latest album "diva" so touching and so different from run-of-the-mill, me-too cover version albums?

    this is not your ordinary cover album. it really touches my heart in all the right places.

    review to come shortly

    but let's cut to the chase: this is a stunning cover album. one of the best in recent years, even better than karen mok's avantgarde "hui wei".

    p/s head to amcorp's famous cd stall (2nd floor, outside popular bookstore) to get your copy hot from the oven from taiwan!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    双喜 [a good milestone]

    roger and princess gigging for the first time

    NST review: click to enlarge

    it was funny. we had a wedding gig with roger today in JB.

    the hotel we stayed at provides NST delivered to the door. i flipped a few pages and put it aside.

    it was a very sedate wedding reception. roger and zyan both performed well. we cracked many "cold" jokes to keep ourselves entertained, including teasing zyan about having her wedding reception in this old-fashioned, "china-pek" restaurant in JB. she retorted strongly with an affirmative "no way!".

    later tonight, after a horrendous 7-hour jam on the highway, we reached PJ at 11pm. exhausted and totally flat out.

    the first sms we got was from roger wang: "nice review of milestone in NST today".

    the 2nd sms we got was from a close friend: "i will sponsor your concert in august".

    double happiness. the 7-hour jam seems so little compared to the good news.

    recognition long overdue, mr. roger wang!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    本年度最佳专辑 [album of the year]

    “flown” 【飞了】 is the best song in the album 

    freya lin fan's album was released in taiwan last december but it only made it into malaysia in april so we would take 2011 as its year of entry.

    make no mistake, this is pop pop music's "album of the year".

    6 strong reasons for us to pick this as the no-contest winner... and 6 strong reasons for you to buy this album. come on, please don't download la, you people ;-)

    1) freya's voice: it is dynamic yet with plenty of subtleties; it is gentle yet it can scale; it has clarity without being analytical. she is one of the best female singers in the business today.

    2) quality of songs: top notch. all the songs are good with at least 4 of them being absolute gems. fresh, creative, non-formulaic, stylish, trendy, sexy, melodious and can withstand the test of time, without being out-of-fashion like most mandarin pop.

    to our shock, we recognize none of the composers or lyricists. this shows that rock records' production team is bold enough to experiment new comers and what rewarding results they get.

    fact is there are very few good "experienced" composers left now. experimenting with new blood is the only way to go if you want fresh music.

    3) great arrangement: for most parts, the arrangement is modern and trendy and not passe sounding. expectedly so, when jim lee (李振权, producer) is in-charge.

    4) best producer in the business: jim lee has produced wonderful albums for many superstars notably eason chan and wang lee hom. he blends chinese pop with some influences of the west, making it sound fresh and creative. jim lee's works are always immediately recognizable due to its non-conforming style and presentation. jim is also a very capable recording engineer!

    5) beautiful styling and image of freya: we think freya look great in this album. she is not the prettiest but she oozes sexuality and sophistication.

    6) it is recommended by pop pop music! so you can't go wrong!

    三年 [it's our 3rd anniversary!]

    想不到才相見 別離又在明天
    這一回你去了幾時來 難道又三年

    they say reminiscing is for old people (we are old people what) yet we can't help but notice that this june 18th, we are coming to our 3rd year in this business and 2v1g's debut album is celebrating its third anniversary.

    we have thought hard about the best way to commemorate this meaningful anniversary. actually we don't know whether we will still be around in 3 years' time la.

    finally, inspiration strikes and we have a solution: to do an anniversary album of some kind.

    our partner, musictoxin, has also agreed to do this anniversary album jointly.

    as to what format and what musical style this anniversary album will be, let's keep mum for the moment.

    let's just say that you will be pleasantly surprised.

    we are not sure how many 3-year have we got in this business, but we will aim 3-year ahead every year we move forward.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    久违了, 华健 [long in the waiting, wakin!]

    if even the once heavenly-king emil chou (wakin) is making an audiophile cover album, everyone else should be sitting up and pay attention!

    yes, we have heard good feedback on wakin's latest comeback album. we heard that the recording is superb and the music is good too.

    wakin covers songs by zhou xuan, teresa teng, tracy huang, sandy lam... all female divas' stuff.

    can you wait any longer?

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    一霎那的光辉不代表永恒 [3-minute fame]

    the edge: page 1

    the edge: page 2

    business weekly: page 1
    business weekly: page 2

    pop pop music is being featured simultaneously in the edge financial weekly and business weekly【资汇】 this week!

    to read, you can double-click on the JPEG image above and use the microscope function to enlarge or you can read the (really big!) scanned PDF documents here:

    the edge page 1
    the edge page 2
    business weekly page 1
    business weekly page 2

    a faded hk cantopop singer once said: a flicker of fame does not equate eternity :-)

    超酷 [cool as cool can get]

    is it a door chime?

    or an ultra-cool, wall-mount cd player?

    fresh from muji, the japanese IKEA, this gadget looks drop-dead gorgeous. designed in japan and made in china, it can give bose and bang & olufsen a run for their money.

    what's left is whether the sound matches the looks. judging from how tiny the surrounding speakers are, its loudness/volume must be limited.

    you can order it from books.com for around RM500.

    we are tempted. tempting heart.