till dusk

till-dusk-front

My favourite time of the day is dusk. It belongs entirely to me. It speaks of endings and new beginnings. It’s grey. It’s perfect. Here are a few songs compiled again by The Husband and I play this often on loop while I write. It’s the soundtrack to my thoughts on many occasions and I hope you’ll find it great for you too. A fellow writer actually played this on his road trip across the States and found it a great counterpoint to the monotonous drone of the engine.

Till Dusk

Tracklisting:
01. M83 – You, Appearing / Kim & Jessie
02. Primal Scream – Autobahn 66
03. Mute Math – Peculiar People
04. Caspian – Loft
05. Helios – Sons Of Light & Darkness

Individually, these bands are worth taking a listen to if you like music that works as a soundtrack to quiet thoughtful moments. The use of intruments are akin to voices, painting colours across your canvas of thoughts. M83 has already had some success with Saturdays = Youth while Primal Scream is just a classic in my growing up years. I cannot gush more about MuteMath and while some get distracted by the fact that these guys are Christian, give them a break, they are awesomely mathematical in measuring space, vocals and tight instrumentation. What is amazing is that they can perform the same tracks live with no discount. If in doubt, try to lay your hands on their live performance of Stall Out. It’s heartrending.

Those who love post-rock but want something quieter really need to explore Caspian and Helios. They employ more digital sounds and effects, not losing the organic touch with piano moments.

I suck at giving album reviews so to avoid giving more inane comments, I’ll stop here.

These are just some of my favourite bands. They stuck with me through a tumultous 2008 and hopefully, will soundtrack your 2009.

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the winter’s tale – a review

O call back yesterday, bid time return

Sitting in the darkness lit by candles, I was immediately awed by the atmosphere The Bridge Project managed to create in that little concert hall. Performing unamplified, there were moments the words spoken were lost on me (even though I was sitting  a mere few rows from the stage) but it didn’t lessen the impact the actors had on my tender little heart. Yes, I teared twice during the play. I tried my best to hide it though seeing that no one else around me was weeping. And why should I weep? Granted, I can cry while watching National Geographic documentaries but there was something in Simon Russel Beale’s tragically jealous character who seeks repentance that touched me.

Honestly, I never did enjoy nor understand Shakespeare’s comedies and am more entertained by his tragic, wretched plays. This could be the reason why I was mildly distracted during the second half (which takes place in Bohemia) and instead, was entertained by Crazy Chick, who was busy trying to snap pictures of Ethan Hawke. ‘I wonder how long it’ll be before someone stops her?’ I mused in the darkness.

It took approximately half an hour before my neighbour leaned over me and whispered to her, ‘Excuse me, could you please stop doing that?’

I squirmed lower in my seat than I thought possible but once Crazy Chick apologized and peace returned, it was just in time for me to catch the final quiet act where Hermione (the statue) magically comes alive to speak with her family. And that’s when I teared the final time.

The backdrop was amazing. Simplistic, effective and surprisingly modern, I wanted to take them home with me to decorate my future house. I appreciated the way the changing of scenes on stage was worked into the play itself and the use of lights on the whole production. Blurring the lines of the stage and audience was also appropriately effective and a nice enough surprise throughout the play.

‘Which was your favourite part?’ Spike asked me.

I have to say it was that singular moment of intimate friendship (which was misconstrued as adultery) between Hermione and Polixenes. They lay on the pillows and their hands were intertwined, fingertips dancing to their own tune… there was just real chemistry between the characters then. It was almost voyeuristic, watching them share those few minutes as Leontes hovered in jealousy. Juxtaposed against the obvious kissing and necking between Perdita and Florizel, the latter just didn’t have the same connection.

So I walked away tonight feeling satisfied. No, I didn’t get a chance to read the play like I wanted to but darn it, they actors did a fine job bringing to life words that somehow, rang true with what I felt inside me.

Thank you guys for transporting me away from a busy life for three hours. I loved dwelling in the fantasy that you created.

where the wild things are & coraline

I am a HUGE fan of children’s books. So imagine my glee when I heard from the Husband that they are going to release Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Firstly, I love monsters. Secondly, I totally identify with Max, who gets sent to his room (he was being naughty) and in the confines of his ‘prison’, enters a whole different dimension of mythical creatures.

Another movie, this one slated for release in September, is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. He took more than ten years to write the story for his daughter and it’s about a girl who has to fight her way out a world parallel to her own. My personal copy is dog-eared and read so many times over.

My only worries are that the movies would destroy the imaginative world I created for myself when I read those books. Somehow, movies rarely compare well with our fantasies and so, I wait with crossed fingers and a little caution. I can’t help feeling all hop-skippity about the whole affair though.

WheeeeeeEEEeeee!

s-l-o-w

Music: Holding Out For a Hero by Frou Frou

Loading up pictures on WordPress has taught me a few things:

1. Open multiple tabs – they take your mind off the waiting.

2. Ask yourself, do you really need that picture uploaded in the post?

3. Multi-task: I write letters, finish documents, search for nice pictures, file my nails, take a toilet break…

Someone help me! Why does it take so long to upload a picture on WordPress?

Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need
I need a hero

– Bonnie Tyler

I hope I can get this sorted. It really does throw a kink in posting up more stuff.
Come save me from this interminable wait as I strike a dramatic pose of the damsel in distress.

the winter’s tale

thebridgeproject

Ah crap. Shit, shit shit…

I am less than 24 hours away from watching The Winter’s Tale staged by The Bridge Project and I have no idea what it’s all about.  I know Shakespeare wrote it. I know it’s one of his most problematic plays. I know there’s someone called Hermione in it. I know it’s a love story but (wail) I don’t anything else other than that! And the tix cost me $200 upwards! Yes, they are one of the better seats, courtesy of Crazy Chick, who called me up a month ago asking I wanted to watch it with her.

I thought I’d have enough time to read the play (I do love Shakespeare) but with the projects that I had to handle and a shift in my portfolio at work… I barely had enough time to breathe, let alone read. Okay. That’s a lie. I have been selective about my reading and most recently completed Chuck Klosterman’s A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas, which I loved. Also just started on a fabulous book by Elizabeth Kostova titled The Historian so… in my case, it could be more a matter of discipline.

I just can’t read Shakespeare while traveling on the train or while waiting for the bus… or in the toilet for that matter! He’s just not casual, if you know what I mean.

In a last minute frenzy, I did what all literature students do. I searched the net. Wikipedia helped a bit, as did SparkNotes. And I managed to flip through the commentaries in the version of The Winter’s Tale that I have. Still, I can’t help feeling lousy about the fact that I may be wasting good money because I can’t understand the play at the depth that I want to. sob.

Sorry Sam Mendes, Ethan Hawke and the rest of the cast. I’ll applaud loudly, I promise. I hope my guilt doesn’t ring too loudly in my cheers though.

sound fragment (china)

sound-fragment-front

I do not understand the Mandarin language. I therefore do not understand what Sound Fragment‘s lyrics are about. I depend heavily on the translation of their track titles, however, it could be precisely due to my lack of understanding that the music is so darn enjoyable. I don’t get distracted by the words and the vocals + music then take centrestage, which is deserving of the limelight. A lot of what you listen to is left up to your interpretation.

The Husband’s friend returned from his trip to China last year and managed to get this album there. None of us had heard of Sound Fragment till then, which is a pity. Because Sound Fragment is polished in their crafting of melody lines (I’m a sucker for good melodies and lyrics) and manages to fit into any mood I’m in. A little like why I liked Cocteau Twins so much in my growing years.

It’s the third release from the Chinese band and to put it simply, Ma Yulong (vocals + guitar) sounds a whole lot like Guy Garvey (Elbow) & Thom Yorke (Radiohead) combined. Their music is more similar to Elbow’s though. They were once described as the Chinese Radiohead and often times were compared to bands like Coldplay. Take a listen and form your own conclusions. I’m rooting for them to make it big in the English market because darn it, they deserve the recognition.

Stick Together

The Morning of a Foreign City

feeding a new home

Music: To Build You A Home by Cinematic Orchestra

Sitting in the luxury of not having to know what to do next, the Mother, The Husband & I began talking getting a new home.

‘Let’s get this straight… so all three of us have thought that it is perhaps, time to explore the idea of purchasing a new home?’ I asked them. They nodded.

‘Oh coolest!’I squealed.

‘But it’s the number one reason for stress, moving house, that is,’ The Mother said with her usual caution toward anything new. We talked about loans, financial health etc. I lost her somewhere at the term ‘house valuation’.

The Husband, who was by now, half asleep with his head on the dining table, mumbled his agreement. Mother was almost right though, moving house (funny how we call it moving house, we’re actually moving homes and changing houses) is the third common cause of stress, following death and divorce.

But we’ll conquer that mountain when we get there, which may be a year or two later. We like to take our time to do these things. I’d say that we’re at the Dreaming Stage of our new home, and like all dreams, we’ve decided (okay, I proposed enthusiastically, the rest just nodded) to compile a scrapbook of homes, interior designs etc. We’re going to feed the dream till it gets so big it overwhelms our senses. My opinion is that in doing so, when we finally see the right place months later, it’ll be easier to know it’s the right place. Besides, it’s fun to dream!

So here’s my dining room option #1. Get ready for more pictures of how different corners of our new home will look!

dreamdiningroom

There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home

Cause, I built a home
for you… for me

– Cinematic Orchestra

i.am.tired.

bowed

Music: Save A Prayer by Eve’s Plum

I cannot remember the last time I felt really energetic. I feel drained, a tad bit worn out and although there are moments when the excitement of a job runs through me like electricity, I am mostly weary.

Today was my day off from work but I found myself…

1. Having brunch with some lovely people where I overate. As usual.

2. Leaving them midway to head off to work to meet a friend and walk through her new role.

3. Confirming stage outfits.

4. Readjusting some appointments tomorrow to fit in a last minute meeting.

5. Answering work related text messages (darn you! mobile phones).

6. Returning to the friends & family in town for a little walk around.

7. Rushing home in time for another dinner appointment.

I must admit that a large majority of the appointments were self-inflicted. I rarely have opportunities to meet up with friends on a social basis and so, when I see a ‘free day’ in my calendar, I overestimate the number of hours in a day and try to squeeze them all in then.

Now if I am doing what I wanted to do, why do I feel so tired all the time? Is it all in the mind? I see wonderful women over-achievers, some of whom I call dear friends, and they seem happy. Their days are maxed out with meetings but they walk with such determination and I can almost see that darn spring in their step. Do they crawl in to bed at night with a sigh and groan when the alarm clock rings, like I do?

Urgh. Don’t say a prayer for me now. Save it till the morning after…

Footnote: Okay. The original rendition of Save a Prayer by Duran Duran is untouchable but Eve’s Plum managed to inject that girly element which right now… seems more apt, somehow. Could be for the simple fact that I am a girl. A very whiny girl.

spaced frequency

sunshinesilhouette

This one is good.

This one was compiled by The Husband, who currently has his own show on a soon-to-be-launched online radio.

This one had a whole lot of airplay in my iPod.

Listen while you’re traveling. Or sitting under the cliched umbrella-while-looking-out-at-sea. It’s laid-back happy stuff. I’m not too sure where’s the space-y element though. Hmm. Could be a name game sorta thing.

Spaced Frequency

01. Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen, We’re Floating In Space (Original Elvis Mix)
02. Custom Blue – One More Dub
03. US69 – 2069 A Spaced Oddity
04. David Axelrod – Big B Plus
05. James Vincent – Space Traveller
06. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
07. John Paul Young – Love Is In The Air
08. Dorothy Morrison – Rain
09. Joe Gibbs – Chapter Three
10. Goldfrapp – Pilots

Hope you liked it as much as I did.