Hot tracks

ASIAN POP

MADE

BigBang

YG Entertainment

4/5 stars

Made is popular South Korean boyband BigBang's long goodbye to their fans before they take a hiatus as rapper T.O.P enlists for a mandatory two-year military service.

The quintet have been releasing the album's 11 tracks over the past 11/2 years - it is as though they want fans to relish the farewell over an extended period.

Aptly, the lads sing of bittersweet parting in the melancholic Last Dance, one of the final three songs released earlier this month.

"Thought love is forever but it faded away/Now even my friends are leaving," croons leader G-Dragon in the opening, before powerhouse belters Daesung and Taeyang deliver the evocative chorus: "I will listen to this song with you and have one last dance/Remember this moment."

More than just a goodbye album, Made comprises an eclectic mix of songs. The breezy We Like 2 Party is perfect for a relaxing road trip with friends; emotional pop tune Loser is a cathartic listen, containing confessional lyrics showing that even superstars have insecurities; and pulsating anthem Bang Bang Bang, last year's best-selling single in South Korea, would fit nicely on a BigBang best-of party playlist alongside Fantastic Baby, the 2012 hit that made them famous around the world.

But if the band are to be remembered during their absence from the scene, it would probably be for the unforgettable Fantastic Baby, more than anything else on Made.

Gwendolyn Ng


LATIN JAZZ

BIENVENIDO TAPAJOS

Sebastiao Tapajos

Edel Germany GmbH

4/5 stars

The virtual bargain bin in iTunes can sometimes throw up an unexpected gem alongside the usual detritus of cheesy compilations and one-hit wonders. A recent scroll produced this toe-tapping find from Brazilian guitarist Sebastiao Tapajos. This small ensemble recording showcases the precision of the classically trained musician's finger-picking technique as well as the sunny warmth of his Latin rhythms.

The opening track Pedalando, powered by the snappy, urgent percussive beats of samba agogo bells before his complex melody line dances in, is a great sampler for what is to come. Between the fleetfingered carnivalesque tracks are more introspective tunes that show off his elegant, considered musicmaking.

He borrows Astor Piazzolla's flashy Libertango as an unexpected segue into the famed tango musician's more melancholic Adios Nonino, and One Note Samba is the introduction to Samba Potburri, which weaves bossa nova icon Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic pieces with Tapajos' own compositions. Samba Potburri is a jazz trainspotter's delight.

This is a small but beautifully executed cameo of Latin rhythms and melodies that is a delightful way to close the year.

Ong Sor Fern


CLASSICAL

NEW YEAR'S CONCERT 2016

Vienna Philharmonic/ Mariss Jansons

Sony Classical 88875174772

4.5/5 stars

Seventy-five years of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's New Year Concerts have yielded more than 319 works by the Strauss family and other composers of festive light music. More are added every year to this delectable smorgasbord of confections and lollipops.

This year's edition, conducted by Latvia-born Mariss Jansons, throws in eight more works previously not heard in the Golden Hall of Vienna's Musikverein. Heading this list is Robert Stolz's United Nations March, composed in 1962 and the most "modern" work performed in this series.

Also heard for the first time are Waldteufel's Espana (using the same tunes as Chabrier's Espana), Hellmesberger's Ball Scene, Ziehrer's Viennese Maidens, Eduard Strauss' Out Of Bounds and three Johann Strauss II rarities - all agreeable fare for the occasion.

Familiar favourites also return, such as Emperor Waltz, Treasure Waltz, Pleasure Train, Josef Strauss' Music Of The Spheres, and the sine qua non essentials - The Beautiful Blue Danube and Johann Strauss Sr's Radetzky March - with synchronised clapping from the audience. Like all things Viennese, old habits die hard and older pleasures ever more so.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe