Singing about disharmony

Home-grown rock trio Lunarin, comprising (from far left) Linda Ong, Ho Kah Wye and Loo Eng Teck, have a fresh batch of songs to mirror socio-political events.
Home-grown rock trio Lunarin, comprising (from far left) Linda Ong, Ho Kah Wye and Loo Eng Teck, have a fresh batch of songs to mirror socio-political events. PHOTO: LUNARIN

Veteran musicians Lunarin and Vanessa Fernandez return with three-track EPs





3.5 Stars



Soulful Ghosts

Ownself Records

3.5 Stars

Breaking a six-year silence, home-grown rock trio Lunarin returns with a fresh new batch of songs to mirror socio-political events that have taken place in their absence.

The title of the three-track EP, Into The Ether, and the cosmic cover art might suggest science fiction and mythology, but make no mistake, the songs are rooted in real-world disharmony and discord.

Opening track Rage, a fierce diatribe against "imbeciles", an increasingly polarising world and the mind-numbing rat race, is a groovy metal banger.

Singer and bass player Linda Ong's low, ethereal voice lulls you into a false sense of security. By the time you realise the venom in her words (Desecrate these idols/Obliterate the silence/Feel my rage) , it is too late and you are already swept along by Ho Kah Wye's fat, down-tuned guitar riffs that slither around Loo Eng Teck's tight and driving beats.

Bruises tackles the unease surrounding celebrity deaths and suicides. "If we are made from stars, do star dust turn into ashes?" Ong questions amid shifting tempos and odd-time signatures while The Flood envelopes you in its eerie, icy embrace.

The veteran band, first formed in 1995 under the name Fuzzbox, might sound like hardened cynics. Yet, they are also donating proceeds from the EP's launch gig at the Esplanade Annexe Studio on Saturday to Home, a charity for migrant workers.

Like Lunarin, singer, songwriter and home-grown scene activist Vanessa Fernandez has been singing and making music since the 1990s.

Her new release is also a three-track EP, made with Australian guitarist/producer Nic Robertson under the moniker Soulful Ghosts.

Fernandez has always shown a flair for finding the right musical collaborators, whether it is with hip-hop outfit Urban Xchange back in the early 2000s or with electronic act Octover in recent years, and her latest electronic-tinged R&B project is no exception.

She exercises her full singing capabilities in Told You So, a stirring kiss-off to a former lover and the sensual I Want You, effortlessly switching from breathy crooning to high falsettos as Robertson's guitars and beats skitter and slide in the background.

Control swaggers with its deftly plucked guitars and tension-building choruses. "Too many people trying to tell me how to breathe/I can't be what I wanna," Fernandez laments in a voice so lush that you want to help her unleash her shackles.

And while the debut EP's short run time feels like a sneak preview, the luscious chemistry between her singing and the production is palpable and you cannot help but surrender to the duo's charm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Singing about disharmony'. Print Edition | Subscribe