Hot tracks: Bevlyn Khoo, New Beat Fund, Czech Philharmonic and more

The title track of singer-songwriter Bevlyn Khoo's new EP Change The World is a paean to positivity and a call to action.
The title track of singer-songwriter Bevlyn Khoo's new EP Change The World is a paean to positivity and a call to action.PHOTO: AWESOME MEMORIES PHOTOGRAPHY

Asian Pop

CHANGE THE WORLD

Bevlyn Khoo

Amuse Rights Management

3/5

Local singer-songwriter Bevlyn Khoo's new EP comprises songs for television drama Jump Class, which aired recently on StarHub TV. Based on the comic of the same name by Johnny Lau of Mr Kiasu fame, the show is about a primary school pupil who discovers he can travel to a less stressful parallel universe.

In keeping with the show's youthful vibe, the songs here are mostly cheery and chirpy. Over a jaunty guitar and harmonica accompaniment on Haha Song, she sings charmingly: "Come along and sing along with me, don't let your thoughts run wild/All together now, hahahahahahahaha."

The title track is a paean to positivity and a call to action: "Change the world, change your space, step across that stubborn and invisible boundary."

Think of it as a pick-me-up anthem for Monday mornings.

Boon Chan


Classical

DVORAK COMPLETE SYMPHONIES & CONCERTOS

Czech Philharmonic

Jiri Belohlavek, Conductor

Decca 478 6757 (6 CDs)

5/5

 It was not until the late 1950s that it was known that the celebrated Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) had composed nine symphonies.

Early recordings of the "New World" Symphony were designated as Symphony No. 5 In E Minor, rather than No. 9 as it is known today. This box-set places the early symphonies in context with his famous later ones and the well-trodden concertos.

The first two symphonies, composed in 1865, are ambitious works playing well over 45 minutes, mostly influenced by Schumann. The Third Symphony (1873), the only one in three movements, looks towards Wagner's progressive style, and he began to develop his own distinctive voice in the fourth and fifth symphonies (1874 & 1875) with Czech nationalism as a driving force.

The last four symphonies are regularly performed in concert and stand the test of posterity. The Czech Philharmonic under Jiri Belohlavek invests an equal quantum of dedication to all nine of them. They possess the spirit of the music literally in their veins, playing with passion and authority that makes a chronologically guided listen to the cycle a pleasurable experience.

Five of the discs play for more than 80 minutes and the first three symphonies are coupled with the Cello Concerto (with Alisa Weilerstein), Violin Concerto (Frank Peter Zimmerman) and Piano Concerto (Garrick Ohlsson). These, too, are fine performances, which confirm Dvorak as one of the great symphonists of the 19th century

Chang Tou Liang


Obscure Classics

RESPIGHI/HINDEMITH/ SCHMITT

Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic

Sascha Goetzel, Conductor

Onyx Classics 4048

5/5 

 The Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1999, establishing itself to be Turkey's premier symphony orchestra. Last year, it was invited to perform at the BBC Proms (together with orchestras from Singapore, China, South Korea and Australia), in celebration of the globalisation of the Western orchestra.

Like the Singapore Symphony, it has positioned itself as a "West meets East" ensemble that specialises in repertoire which bridges the cross-cultural divide. This debut recording does just that, programmed with the theme of "Oriental femme fatales". None of the composers is a genuine ethno-musicologist, thus their music was largely based on their own exotic interpretations of Middle or Far Eastern culture and aesthetics.

Ottorino Respighi's four-movement Suite from his ballet Belkis, Queen Of Sheba is hewn from the same opulent canvas as his Roman Trilogy, with the addition of Arabian drums for that extra element of exoticism.

Paul Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphoses On Themes by Carl Maria von Weber works chinoiserie and fugal exuberance into its second movement, inspired by the Chinese princess Turandot.

Florent Schmitt's symphonic poem The Tragedy Of Salome is the longest work here, more French impressionism and Oscar Wilde than anything truly Palestinian.

The performances are exciting and vividly recorded in this audio spectacular, even if authenticism is in short supply.

Chang Tou Liang


Alternative

SPONGE FINGERZ

New Beat Fund

Red Bull Records

3/5

As far as musical style is concerned, Los Angeles band New Beat Fund are G-Punk - part ska, part rapcore, part hardcore and part punk. Their debut album Sponge Fingerz offers a collection of fun, light-hearted songs which indulge in youthful revelry - think partying, getting drunk and munching slices of pizza. They are catchy tunes with cool surf-rock riffs and basslines reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers at times.

The single Sunday Funday tells of how the protagonist finds himself "unexpectedly drunk on a Sunday, waking up sand in my hair; it's all I could want on a Sunday, hanging out by the water's edge, jam 'sesh' with my good friends".

Co-produced by Matt Wallace, who has worked with American rock band Faith No More and pop band Maroon 5, the album is unsurprisingly polished, in a pop way.

The music's carefree vibe mirrors the boisterous persona of the band - four sun-bleached boys in funky coloured outfits who are happy in their element.

Worth a listen.

Melissa Kok


Indie Rock

IN THE FUTURE LOVE WILL ALSO

LiesDeceit

Self-released

3/5

A few weeks ago, a 19-minute film directed by a Singaporean and an American made the news when it won two awards at the Brooklyn Film Festival.

This five-song EP is the soundtrack to that film, In The Future Love Will Also.

The tunes are the works of multitasking Singaporean director Alfie Lee, now a New York native who writes all the songs, sings and plays guitar in the indie rock quartet LiesDeceit.

While the film itself won Best Experimental award and an Audience award in the film festival's Experimental category, the music itself is a throwback to the heady days of the home-grown alternative music scene in the early 1990s.

That is no coincidence because Lee was an active participant of the scene then, not as a musician, but as a photographer who shot many of the bands from that era.

The opening track, Interstate, sounds like a tune straight from local indie godfathers The Oddfellows, down to the jangly guitars and lo-fi sensibilities. And no wonder - head Oddfellow Patrick Chng himself did the audio mastering for the recordings.

The lyrics - documenting an American road trip and referencing the interstate, Ihop stops and the open road - are far from Singaporean, though.

Elsewhere, on the heartbreaking In Stead Instead, Lee's fragile and yearning voice, as well as siren-like guitars and steady rhythm section bring to mind the best of British new wave legends The Buzzcocks.

On Wolves, he pours reverb on his vocals as he intones: "Lambs march out to the slaughter/What they angry for?/Who they crying for?"

Standing out from the rest of the tunes, which are two- to three-minute pop nuggets, Idina Talks is a droning five-minute account of a romance gone wrong.

A delectable trip back in time, the soundtrack is an enjoyable romp through the long-gone days of discovering locally made indie music through DIY demo cassettes.

Eddino Abdul Hadi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Hot tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe