Sandee Chan: Sparks fly in marriage of music and lyrics

Taiwanese singer-songwriter Sandee Chan.
Taiwanese singer-songwriter Sandee Chan.PHOTO: ROCK-RECORDS

Electronica has been Taiwanese singer-songwriter Sandee Chan's playing field for a while now.

A Low-Key Life (2013) wrestled with fidelity and the limits of love, while I Love You, John (2011) served up playful electro-pop in which music itself is a theme.

As one-half of the duo 19 on the eponymous album (2011), she turned George Chen's film scores and commercial work into accessible songs.

She continues to find ways to invigorate the genre. On this album, she works with 10 creatives for a colourful show of sparks.

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    Sandee Chan

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On The Afternoon, her laidback melody and hypnotic arrangement are paired with acclaimed film-maker Tsai Ming-liang's spare lyrics about death and commitment: "What would you do if one day/I should leave ahead of you/Will you cry and hope/We'll meet in the next life".

Elsewhere, she collaborates with authors, a poet, a scriptwriter, a designer, a film critic and a food writer. The music is varied, by turns poignant, tender and quietly urgent as befitting the words.

Graphic designer Aaron Nieh paints a dark picture on Shut Up: "I have eaten up the night, finished the cigarettes" and later on, "The stars don't shine, don't compel".

Meanwhile, food writer Craig Au Yeung is whimsical on Just An Egg: "Gently break me/Casually beat me/And then whisk me evenly with a burst of effort".

Frustratingly, the title song is not part of the 10-track album.

It was available only as a pre-order limited-edition single bundled with the record.

Track down the elegantly atmospheric number on platforms such as iTunes and Spotify and check out the music video with its fascinating DIY scrapbook aesthetic.

There is a case for not including the track.

First, it is a duet, which none of the other songs is.

Second, the album is a marriage of her music with others' lyrics, whereas Sorrow is the reverse, melding Yoga Lin's memorable melody with Chan's morose musings.

As it stands, the album is thematically a cohesive whole and rewards careful listening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'Sparks fly in marriage of music and lyrics'. Print Edition | Subscribe