Singapore Scene: New music from Alyph, Jasmine Sokko, Nathan Hartono

Rapper, singer and producer Alyph delves into intimate portraits of betrayal, hope and absolution in his EP, III/III.
Rapper, singer and producer Alyph delves into intimate portraits of betrayal, hope and absolution in his EP, III/III.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - There was a bumper crop of EP releases from home-grown music acts in the past month.

Rapper, singer and producer Alyph takes time out from producing hits for other artistes to put out a solo EP.

Label mates Nathan Hartono and Jasmine Sokko both have new EPs with songs inspired by life in a pandemic.

New name Carpet Golf, a band comprising members of various home-grown indie bands, make their debut with an EP dealing with toxic masculinity.

Check out the releases on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.

1. Hip-hop/R&B

III/III

Alyph

Rapper, singer and beat-maker Alyph delves into intimate portraits of betrayal, hope and absolution is his three-track EP, III/III.

The tunes tap sounds ranging from ethereal R&B to trap. "My motivation for making music is that it cannot sound like everything I'm hearing right now," he says.

Alyph, who first made his name as a member of hip-hop duo SleeQ, is also known for producing hits for acts in Singapore and Malaysia.

2. Electronic/Pop

θi = θr

Jasmine Sokko

Jasmine Sokko's EP is named after physics formula Snell's Law of Reflection and inspired by her life in the past year.

"Given the pandemic, I find myself having to spend so much time alone where I cannot help but confront certain feelings and find a new sense of self. A lot of the songs on this EP have to do with reflections," she says.

The six-song EP includes 25, co-written with fellow Singaporean singer-songwriter Gentle Bones, as well as Magnet, sung in English and Mandarin.

3. POP

Edge of Days

Nathan Hartono

The four songs in crooner Nathan Hartono's EP Edge Of Days is a self-described "random mix of sounds and feelings" born out of life in a pandemic.

"It was written over the course of the first half of this year, which was erratic to say the least. The rules to life kept changing," he says.

"And I was finding myself bouncing between days, stopping and starting, unable to get much of a foothold on anything, really, thus the 'edge of days'. Music kept me going, for that I am forever grateful. The bonus is that you get to hear the product of all that."

It includes dreamy ballad The Difference, produced by acclaimed Singaporean electronic music artiste Myrne, as well as Simple, a track about dealing with the impossible nature of love.

4. Jazz/R&B/Pop

Pearls

Aisyah Aziz

Singer Aisyah Aziz's Pearls is a covers album put out by audiophile label Groove Note Records. It includes her rendition of classic songs such as Chris Isaak's 1989 hit Wicked Game, Lou Reed's 1972 song Walk On The Wild Side and Prince's 1984 signature tune Purple Rain.

5. Emo/Power Pop

Not As Good A Fisherman As Brock Lesnar Is A Man

Carpet Golf

Carpet Golf is a new outfit made up of members from bands such as Subsonic Eye, The Neptune Waves and Charm.

Their debut EP's mouthful of a title, Not As Good A Fisherman As Brock Lesnar Is A Man, reflects the quartet's quirky outlook and the songs touch on topics such as toxic masculinity.

Album opener and early single, Brock Lesnar, is named after the American-Canadian wrestler.

6. Folk/Classical

UTOPIA Reimagined: The First Chapter

Joanna Dong

Jazz singer Joanna Dong's single kicks off a series in which home-grown artistes create compositions inspired by the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Utopia Symphony by Russian composer Vladimir Martynov.

The symphony was commissioned in 2003 by Singapore's then ambassador to Russia, Mr Michael Tay.

The song, Utopia Reimagined: The First Chapter, is co-written by Dong and composer Chok Kerong, and includes lines from the classic Tao Te Ching Taoist text.

The series is an initiative by the Foundation for The Arts and Social Enterprise, founded by Mr Tay, who also serves as its executive director.

7. Indie rock

Subsonic Eye

Dijangka/Matahari

The past month has been big for indie rock/noise pop quintet Subsonic Eye.

The band found a global audience when it filmed a set for KEXP (At Home), an online music series by Seattle radio station KEXP FM.

They also released two new singles, Dijangka (Expected) and Matahari (Sun), their first songs in Malay. The romantic lyrics are inspired by the relationship between songwriter and guitarist Daniel Castro Borces and singer and lyricist Nur Wahidah.

8. R&B

Afterglow

Keyana

Afterglow is an uplifting and ruminative track by 18-year-old singer-songwriter Keyana.

"In Afterglow, feeling lost becomes the main narrative of my current self, not knowing where to go, who I want to be, what I represent and the fear of losing myself in the process," she says.

"But as I speak to myself, a part of me reaches out and reminds me that the ideal woman has always been within me. It is through this conversation that I learn that as long as I embrace who I am and follow my heart in all that comes with this journey, I will become that ideal woman and experience my afterglow."

9. Hip-hop

KakakAdik

Qis Maraj and Mawar Berduri

KakakAdik, which is a mix of the words for elder sister and younger sibling, is a collaborative track between two generations of women rappers.

Mawar Berduri is a seasoned singer and rapper who first made her name in Singapore and Malaysia with hip-hop trio Ahli Fiqir in the early 2000s.

Qis Maraj is a newcomer whose recent single Fatalis topped the local music charts on Mediacorp's Malay radio station ria897.

10. Hip-hop

Passive Aggressive

Shigga Shay

Rapper Shigga Shay's single Passive Aggressive is a collaboration with Hugo Louder, a music series by fashion brand Hugo Boss.

He is the only Asian artiste featured in this year's edition, which also features acts such as Danish pop singer MØ.

With lyrics that touch on mental health, the rapper also worked on Passive Aggressive with Grammy-nominated Portuguese DJ and music producer Holly and Thai producer and musician ZOL.