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rock in the fine city
'80s-'90s singapore independent music archives
Monday, December 31, 2007
STARFISH & COFFEE- Ghost MCD
(Ex Nihilo/Knightsbridge Communication 1996)



Horror of horrors! True Singapore Ghost Stories, Damien Sin, Black Powers, and then Starfish n Coffee...aargh... what have you, many bad attempts at horror from a past decade of bad taste in Singapore. I guess the curiosity in all things dark and scary have always been an inherent interest in most human beings not exclusive to bored Singaporeans, and it was predictably realized in the heydays of the 90s when horror literature was churned in sheer bulk at its peak to feed hungry ghost readers who sometimes cannot discern a real spook. Maybe Singaporeans are just easily scared. I remember that almost every book fairs back then were haunted by scary looking eyes staring out from black volumes. But trust me the contents are anything but. Someone said that Asians are not creative. If it is Singapore horror I so very much concur. So far we're really kidding ourselves with these boom of lame works that adds to the mountain of mediocrity. I don't mind genuine spook, or even amateurish b-graders, they are funny, but contrived attempt to appear serious is cringeworthy especially with the aforementioned. And what if it's not even scary at all? It's a real nightmare for unsuspecting consumers. The foreign talents can do better by teaching us real horrifying lessons, something which I very much hate to say but have to admit anyway. Anyway, many opportunists did cash in on the boom and this CD was one of them.

This CD was conceived sometime in 1996 by Knightsbridge Communications to commemorate their horror story books titled “Souls- True Ghost Stories” (in the tradition of all the “true ghost stories” in Singapore and not much different). The band on this CD was known as Starfish n Coffee or Ghost, in whichever way you look at it, still a bunch of unknowns. I even thought the band was haphazardly put together for the “Souls” books from the mess I gathered of this CD. Now, this CD from the look of it is supposed to make you think you're in for some scary treat. Read on and you'll be scared and perplexed.

So what's wrong with this CD? First of all, the CD is listed with nine tracks. And I expect nine songs that will scar my soul. However, only the first two tracks, namely “Ghost” and “Bloody Valentine” are actual songs. The rest of the seven tracks are spoken words and conversations which lasts an average of one minute each; the story is about one guy trying to poison his girlfriend and she returned as a ghost... and I dont even laughed at this one, I grimaced. Is this supposed to appeal to morbid teenagers who cannot get enough of reading "Souls"? Mediacorps could even do better. Secondly, the meat of the CD: the music is halfway decent, not scary music as the cover and theme would have suggested, but just plain lame mushy cock rock ballads that you won't remember after playing. Seriously I will feel ashamed to play something like that because 1996 is not a year remembered for Steppenwolf. To its credit, Ah Boy from TNT was featured here on lead guitars. I seriously cannot find any better things to say about this CD and I don't even understand what is the whole point of this CD. What were they even thinking? Haha, this is as weird as playing the ET game on Atari or that LP with giraffe on the cover titled Taiwanese aboriginal disco (and yes the vinyl actually existed!). Scary eh? Whoever would have bought this CD is an idiot and yes the joke is on me.

This CD is an anomaly of Singapore music and the review is made for historical archiving and to serve as a warning for potential idiots. I can see the detractors of local music sharpening their knives.


--sojourner at 11:32 PM

FORCE VOMIT- The Furniture Goes Up CD
(Leaf Records 1998)



Happy new year to you and welcome to the fourth year into Rock In The Fine City! Wow, time has indeed passed so quickly before I was even certain I am older and my pastimes are more limited. On new year's day today I could have been at the beaches but here I am rather slouched on my cursed chair of idle and listening to some really fine music that made me think of the beaches. The surfing sound of Force Vomit, might I say the ONLY surviving band in Singapore nowadays with such tunes that smell of sea brine. Those irresistibly wicked twang thangs are long overdue sounds that should be heard on the beautiful island of Singapore. That reverb-drenched magical sound of surf resonates most naturally here because sea waves, coconuts and tropical tans are our birthrights, although we do not really have a bastion of real surf riders here. However, we used to have bands in Singapore swimming in the muddy waters of psychedelia folk and freakbeating to surfs and releasing vinyls that became serious collectors' items. But the growing resign to mundane chords of conventional rock music erased the trippy fun and made up the standard riffs of many a standard alternative rockers in Singapore. Until a disgustingly named ripsnorting entity of a legend by the name of Force Vomit put the fun back into the Singapore rock sound and became a force to be reckoned with vomit, not in a disgusting way.

Force Vomit was formed in late 1993 and this motley crue of treble spankers had released a couple of critically acclaimed albums and demos. Here I am reviewing their groundbreaking debut album “The Furniture Goes Up” released in 1998, featuring the classic lineup of Dino (guitars, vocals), Alvin (bass, vocals) and Neng (drums, vocals). Having already garnered fame (and notoriety) with their classic anthem “Spacemen Over Malaysia”, this CD was met with some of the wildest responses from both sides of the Causeway, and the band could equally revel and suffer the consequences for sounding so far ahead from the norm because speaking on behalf of the Singapore side of the Causeway we had some really narrowminded fools and wise guys with mind of an endless ocean. Nevertheless they surfed right above the radar with their brand of asian surf-punk that defies the gentle ripples of The Ventures or even The Pixies for that matter. They had much more quirks in their formulas to conjure up a really wicked concoction of abrasive punk rock and asian surf sensibility. Not to forget their intelligent social commentaries which packs a hidden punch/agenda.

The whole CD almost crackles and pops vinyl nostalgia, so damned cool and retro with astonishingly catchy melody that lies so abundantly easy on the ears, played to rich reverbed guitars on spring reverberation units, fat basslines, a cynical vocals and freak surfs drums. “Riot For Madame Chia” sets in with modal tonalities like a drug-induced dream out of Dick Dale. Many tracks here are pure surf bliss of The Ventures and The Chanteys order like “Surf Ratz”, “Hey Turbo” (with psych Malay-folk ethnic sound), “Tadika Cupid”. Many of their rocking moments are also set in appetizing punk numbers like “The Return of Mona Koh”, “L.O.V.I.N.G.”, “Welcome To Panic Stations”, “Mona Koh” firmly entrenched in the Ska, surf punk aspects of The Dead Kennedys and the more abrasive wildness of The Pixies. “Revolution NTPS” is a more eclectic mixture with a boogie set to the melodies of Seals & Crofts' “Summer Breeze”, heavy metal ala Iron Maiden and a very caustic The Pixies. “Spacemen Over Malaysia” is of course the greatest highlight in this CD with its ultra-cool asian surf melody that makes for a great crowd pleaser sing-along and its subtle social commentaries, but it is not listed in the album, only to be found hidden behind the last listed track “Mr Trampoline Man”.

Seriously I hardly have any time in the world. Those precious idle moments are divided between visiting the beaches and writing review on Rock In The Fine City. Or I could also go down to Sungei Road for some useful trinkets. But at this point I felt rather satisfied, because I've been sitting on writing a Force Vomit review since the start of Rock In The Fine City and procrastinated for four donkey years. Boo, shame on me for the last four years because Force Vomit is one of the greatest band from Singapore. Ok, I seriously mean it this time.


--sojourner at 10:18 PM

album reviews

Anesthesia- Anesthesia CD Astreal- Ouijablush CD AWOL- Midnight In June CD Band of Slaves- 45 MCD Bird Brains- Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich CD The Black Sun- The Black Sun CD The Boredphucks- Revolution 69 MCD The Boredphucks- Banned In Da Singapura CD Chris Ho- Nite Songs In Day-Glo CD Concave Scream- Concave Scream CD Concave Scream- Erratic CD Concave Scream- Three CD Daze- Sexy Little Boy MCD Do Not Ask- Just Play It! CD Edgar's Fault- Edgar's Fault CD Fection Dasche- Eternal Transgression CD Flying Pills- Flying Pills CD Force Vomit- The Furniture Goes Up CD Global Chaos- The Art of Listening CD Humpback Oak- Pain-stained Morning CD Humpback Oak- Ghostfather CD Humpback Oak- SideASideB CD Humpback Oak- Oaksongs Boxset Impiety- Asateerul Awaleen CD Kelvin Tan- The Bluest Silence CD Lilac Saints- Awake CD The Lizard's Convention- Here's a Funny Fish, Hurrah! CD The Mother- A Dark Trip On The Ill Tip CD Mutation- Void of Disharmony EP Neural Vibe- Mantra CD The Oddfellows- Teenage Head CD The Oddfellows- Carnival CD The Ordinary People- It's A Weird Existence CD The Padres- BigO Singles Club #1 MCD The Padres- What's Your Story MCD The Pagans- Stereokineticspiraldreams CD Radio Active- Eyes In The Attic CD Starfish n Coffee- Ghost MCD Stompin' Ground- Measured By The Richter Scale CD Stoned Revivals- Golden Lovesongs From The Evil Island of The Handsome Tropical Cannibals CD Sugarflies- And That's Why CD Watchmen- Democracy CD Watchmen- Love MCD Zircon Gov.Pawn Starz- Follywood CD Zircon Lounge- Regal Vigor LP Various Artists- +65 Indie Underground 3 CDs Set Various Artists- Left of The Dial CD Various Artists- The Substation 10 Years & Counting (Rock The Garden) CD Various Artists- 12 Storeys CD Various Artists- New School Rock MCD

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