Our top picks this week - featuring a special live performance of sludgy stoner rock from Marijannah, a perfect neo-soul and acid-jazz bop from Wednesday's Child, and hard rap from Deliciious and Han.
“Full Moon / Shapeless (Live)”
Live at The Projector
Just in time for Halloween, Singaporean stoner metal outfit Marijannah drops special live performance into our trick or treat baskets. Not being able to grace us with a banging Halloween show (like they did last year at the Music Parlour) with the current global pandemic still looming, the band has instead opted to release a recorded live take of Full Moon and Shapeless off of their excellent 2019 album Istanah, set in the empty theatre halls of The Projector. With an accompanying video directed by Ryan Chang and the live set’s audio recorded and engineered by the efforts of esteemed local producer Leonard Soosay and Martin Kong of Caracal fame, this live take of Full Moon/Shapeless is an almost impeccable Halloween treat for both the eyes and ears.
Given that vast chunks of their lyrical content are based off horror movies, there doesn’t seem to be a more perfect pairing for the occasion than Marijannah at The Projector. There’s an oddly hypnotic quality to seeing Marijannah play in front of an empty movie theatre – you can almost imagine the ghosts and ghouls watching from the wings and behind the dark, unoccupied fold-up seats of the front row. Everything that made these songs work so well on Istanah is strongly present in this performance, be it the mammoth sludge-fuzz riffing from both guitarists Rasyid Juraimi and Nicholas "Skinny" Ng, the crushing bass work from Muhammad Azri Azman, or the pounding drumming from drummer/vocalist Nick Wong.
Wong’s hard-hitting, almost mechanical rhythms, which he does while concurrently singing, makes him look like he’s been possessed by the spirit of Frankenstein’s monster. That, on top of the trance-like state of the rest of the band, helps the quartet plough through hammering riff work and thick wah-infused guitar solos, imbuing this performance with a true sense of Halloween spirit.
Unfortunately, Istanah’s main flaw also carries through - with the vocal performances by Wong and Juraimi being so averagely okay. Their singing is by no means bad, but it’s still the weakest link in an otherwise powerful and face-melting performance by Marijannah. This is also made worse by the vocals sitting at such an awkward frequency in the mix where it feels muffled and buried by the mix, unable to cut through the sludge. With all that said, given that it is stoner rock after all, the vocals aren’t really a deal breaker at all – unless you’re really looking to nitpick.
Marijannah’s performance of Full Moon/Shapeless is best experienced with the video accompanying it and you can watch it here:
This performance is also available on streaming platforms and you can listen to it on Spotify here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
Wednesday's Child feat. Marj
Wednesday’s Child is the solo project of young bassist/songwriter Elliot Tan – painting her canvas with a sparkling amalgamation of lush jazz voicings, impeccable bass grooves and Nujabes-esque beatwork, she first emerged with Siren Song, an entrancing single that recruited the smooth croons of Woes’ Raizel that demonstrated a distinct neo-soul sensibilities to full effect (think the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote). On her latest release, Pedestrian Life, her arsenal is once again on full display – albeit in a brighter effort, teaming up with singer Marj to deliver a perfectly soulful and groovy ode to holding on and unwanted goodbyes.
Her sensibilities form the bedrock for an impassioned vocal performance by Marj - “don’t wanna go back to my Pedestrian Life,” she laments as she recounts minute, intimate moments. Coloured with tasteful drum chops, pleasantly poppy keys and a tastefully stanky synth solo in the middle, they form a charismatic alchemy that pulls listeners into her world.
Pedestrian Life is a strong document of youth, longing, and fleeting adventure, all tightly and earnestly put together. It’s music that truly makes you feel, and music that feels like a glimpse into something about Elliot, Marj, and perhaps even yourself every time you listen to it. Another quality offering from one of the most promising acts to emerge from Singapore this year.
Listen to “Pedestrian Life” here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
Deliciious feat. Han
Whenever Deliciious (the alter ego of rapper Benetton Lim) releases something new, it’s always interesting to see what he’s about to try next. He might not be the best or most tasteful rapper in Singapore, but he definitely is one of the most earnest and hardest working ones. Hearing the passion he has for his craft, it makes every release of his engaging, as a constantly inspiring study on how much he is able to improve. On Taiji, Lim writes some of his best bars yet – flowing with personality on top of a flute-sampling trap beat, while pairing with a similarly young voice in upcoming spitter Han (AKA Tengyboy), credits to Zendyll Records.
The Soundcloud stylings are more than obvious – its combination of flute samples over overdriven 808s most notably bringing to mind a copy of Kanye West’s most recent single Nah Nah Nah. The track’s thumping 808s could’ve been a little louder and more pronounced, with its lackluster density failing to fill up the track. Yet despite its strongly derivative nature, Taiji’s beatwork isn’t overly obnoxious. It serves the song well – and for the lack of flavour in the beats, he makes up with delivery, which is what really makes the track. Most notably, he shines with his ad-libs, colored with local lingo sprinkled throughout the track (“Kua Simi?” “Simi Taiji?” “Oi! Oi!”). The result is an air of convincing authenticity that transcends the typical corniness accompanying much of his peers (looking at Shigga Shay).
With these ad-libs, his natural accent actually breaks through as one of his great strengths, complementing his flow as he delivers bar after bar – shining particularly on the Hokkien parts of his verse. It results in one of his best outings, with his strong delivery giving the track a High Brothers-esque quality (“Imma be killing my zone/ I’m just gonna be alone / Getting bully from unknown / Getting blown from cyclone/ Never getting on the throne / Never grabbing micro-phones”). Han absolutely kills it on his guest verse as well, and is arguably Taiji’s highlight, both lyrically and in his excellent delivery (“Now my names on the posters/ See this gun that im never gon holster/ Song too hard cant listen to boasters/ Drip too hard think i need a coaster/ Taking credit when I’m doing the most of”). It may not be anything to shout home about as a whole, but hearing how hard the track’s hook goes (translated to “All my guy friends give me so many problems”), you really can’t deny his intensity and conviction.
You can listen to “Taiji” here:
You can also check out our recent intimate interview with the mind behind Deliciious, Benetton Lim, here.
- - by Isaac Yackem