Friend of mine, Mr Ivan Chew a.k.a. the Rambling Librarian, is a real renaissance man. When he’s not at his day job convincing the world to read books, or painting, or blogging, he’s making music.
I was honoured enough when he asked me to review his collaborative effort – Librarian + Biologist = SeaStars 2007
In their own words:
SeaStars 2007 is what you get when a Biologist/ Teacher gets together with a Librarian to create music inspired by “dreamy thoughts of seashores and stars” while mucking around with their Macs.
Some 32 minutes later, here are my plebian thoughts of the 9 tracks:
1. SeashoreDays: Audio quality sounds a little muffled, even dirty despite being encoded at 192kbps, so suspect the source might be a bit dodgy. Either that or my earwax has built to colossal proportions. As the first track, it never really gets up to speed and thus doesn’t get me excited about the rest of the album. .
2. SeaAnemone: A drum machine intro… which i really don’t have a liking for. The drums just sound too clear when blended with the rather echoey, dreamy sounding guitars. Maybe you guys should get a real drummer? 🙂 i seemed to like the song more when about 2:00 in, the drums got canned. but then again, at 2:20 they started it up again. 😦 Like good kueh lapis, this song is nicely-layered. Might have gone on for 1 minute too long though.
3. Starfish: moves faster, melody follows more naturally, and doesn’t sound over-produced. It’s certainly more ‘ear-friendly’ than seashore days. There’s still something about drum machines that just doesn’t segue with the rest of the instruments.
4. IntoTheDeep: This starts off sounding like some underwater sci-fi flick, or the soundtrack to an RPG (role-playing game) that requires the hero to venture into a deep abyss to fight some badass octopuss or something. Interesting treatment, but maybe a tad indulgent.
5. FlowingWithTheWaves: is probably my favourite track. The strumming comes across with nice clarity. The electric guitar comes in later, threatening to overpower the track, but fortunately it never does overstep the line. Ever present ‘sea sound fx’ are present as well, melding with the rest of the instruments in a way that none of the other tracks seem to have achieved.
6. Stargazer: is the cleanest track, with just 3 guitars (i think). No percussion, no sound effects! Electric guitar makes a cameo, which i think could have been left out. i like!
7. OnceUponAstar: Carrying on with the whole star ‘thang’, once upon a star is also devoid of sound fx. maybe because stars don’t make sounds? duh. no guitars on this one, just the keyboards, plus synthetic percussion makes a comeback. The song kinda gets lost after the 2 minute mark, where the various instruments seem to go off on mini-tangents of their own.
8. DolphinsGalaxia: Starts off nicely and some nice, dolphin-ish effects are sprinkled in to good effect. Tell me if i’m wrong, but after the first minute, i seem to hear strains of ‘silent night’ – and it’s not because it’s the christmas season! Some very nice harmonies in this track, but once again, it almost threatens to outstay its welcome as the song kinda wanders off and doesn’t know how to end.
9. Seabreeze: is the last of the 9 songs on the album. For some reason, it feels very ‘beyond’. No, not as in ‘out there’, but remember that Chinese rock group from the 80s? Then just as i entertained that though, the er-hu starts wailing, and then the Chinese cymbals (is that what they’re called?) too. A hint of what’s the come in the next album? Well, well… you guys have certainly got me curious for more!
Final word: An intriguing blend of sea sounds and strings. Not so hot for me – the electronic percussion and lack of compelling song endings. Still, an applaudable amateur effort that shows promise!