talent. and appreciating it.

Last night was mid-week, the time of the week when I would usually join the rest of the society at large to welcome the impending weekend. Last Wednesday, I munched on black pepper cashew nuts that were however not as nice as I remembered them to be, while happily sipping on potent lychee martinis and recounting the week’s events to the poor listener on whom I’d unleashed verbal diarrhea on. Some other times, I might have chosen a different genre of happy hours by enjoying a fattening evening with pals over beers and deep-fried food while great music filled the air courtesy of the live band. Some days however, I might have decided on a quieter evening and either made a beeline for home to dine with the family, or seek out some relaxation in a yoga class.

I did none of the above. Instead, I met a friend for dinner at Kusabi at Marina Square, where I’d posted a review on the other blog, and then we’d adjourned to the Esplanade where the Mosaic Music Festival was on. My friend’s friend and his band were playing at the concourse and she had wanted to show her support, so we made our way there after dinner and caught the last 15 minutes of Randolf Arriola’s first set. I guessed towards the end, he might have done some of his interpretations of classics, as per what I was reading off the official Mosaic website, as I found various strands of tunes familiar, but just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what they were or where I might have heard them before. The microphone was a tad soft and from where I was seated to the side of the HTC Living Room, I wasn’t able to catch what he said. No matter, it was an enjoyable set, and after that we moved to the front of the stage as we waited for Tze n Looking Glass to start.

Tze n Looking Glass are a quartet of a pianist, a violinist, a saxophonist and… what do you call someone who plays the er-hu? In the short 45-minute space, they presented 4 pieces of original compositions (if I recall correctly) which I pretty much enjoyed. It was an interesting fusion of sounds from musical instruments belonging to different cultures and times, but I thought that the blend of the piano and er-hu were great. Didn’t really like when all 4 came into play because it seemed too cacophonous at some point and the saxophone seemed to overwhelm all other sounds. Tze is the pianist, who is also my friend’s friend, and apparently he is a self-taught pianist, who is also one talented and brilliant composer. When I heard that I was rather impressed because the piano is one of those instruments that I have always wanted to pick up but due to a myriad of circumstances and reasons including of course laziness and procrastination, to date I am still nowhere near being a beginner in piano lessons. I digress, but the last piece they played that was called Goddess of Rain had a very sad-sounding piano arrangement (according to me) that made me fall in love all over again with the piano. I love music, although I know not one instrument, and aside from having music in my life on a daily basis listening to (mostly pop) songs on my iPod, I can’t say I know music at all. I suppose I can profess a love based purely on appreciation, and the skills and talent that go behind creating these wonderful melodies that add a soundtrack to our lives.

shugo tokumaru

The last Mosaic concert I attended last night was a performance by Shugo Tokumaru and his band at the Recital Studio.

It was a pretty interesting concert, seeing as to the myriad of instruments on display that the 4-piece band was going to use for that 60 minutes. I know nothing about Shugo prior to hearing him and his band, but I was quite impressed by the use of all the different musical instruments to concoct a melody. The soft voice of the singer expounding the Japanese lyrics that I had almost zero comprehension of fitted perfectly into the sounds. However, not all the songs did it for me, because there were times I found the music too jarring, and it was a bit distracting to see each of the band members switching between different instruments in the duration of a song, like they were being very busy keeping up with the song’s beats.

That said, the softer pieces, with crisp bell chimes interwoven with the guitar strums of Shugo, were the point of enjoyment for me. I liked the encore pieces too, the first being (the only recognisable song to me) Radio Killed the Radio Star – Shugo’s voice was just so cute in this rendition. Then seeing all 4 members of his band striking at the drum set was also quite funny and enjoyable. Even though I think that most among the audience at the Recital studio are probably like me, and do not understand Japanese lyrics, music is something that transcends languages. As long as we enjoy the tune, and appreciate the band delivering the melody, I believe music can be shared by everyone.

pink martini

Pink Martini was in the line-up for this year’s Mosaic, and although I know next to nothing about them, I decided to attend their concert with my friend.

Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect because for starters I don’t even know where they hail from, who made up the band (i.e. how many people were there and so on), and what songs they had. Ok, I only know one song from them, which is “Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler” – if that is even the song title in the first place. I cannot remember where I first heard that song from but I really liked it for its catchy tune and the lyrics that seem to suggest that the person doesn’t give a damn what goes on. The chorus roughly translates as “I don’t want to work, I don’t want to lunch, I want to forget on my own, then I smoke.” Obviously I managed to pick up the lyrics only because back then I was still taking French as an extra-curricular activity, which sadly for the moment I have stopped.

Anyway, it was a sell-out concert at the Concert Hall of our very own Esplanade, which as I just checked, sits about 1,600. That’s quite a feat considering it is their maiden gig in Singapore, and everyone in the audience was just amazing. I recognised just that 1 song I knew of course, but the entire 90-minute performance fusing various musical genres like Latin, jazz, lounge and classical was absolutely great. I liked how China Forbes sounded, which sort of transports me to a time during the 40s or so where singing is very much about the fullness and distinct quality of the voice. She delivered a Malay rendition of their song “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love” that was made popular in Malaysia by Sean Ghazi, and also a Chinese song “等着你回来”, that had the crowd cheering and applauding. My favourite song of the night was “Dosvedanya Mio Bombino” though, maybe because it had a very West End/Broadway feel to it, something reminiscent of Les Miserables.

When the gig ended at slightly past 9pm, they received a standing ovation from the concert hall; I would have stood if I didn’t have my bag on me and I didn’t want it on the floor. Plus the fact that I was sitting in Circle 3 seemed to make standing a rather dangerous move. They performed 2 more songs in the encore which had a lot of people standing up to dance along to the music, and I was surprised that the audience was so spontaneous and lively!

Special mention has to be made of the entire band too, for they are all talented musicians who are suitably versatile. I see them moving around and playing different instruments during the 90-minute set, and that to me, is indeed what talent is about!

settling back into monotony

Still trying to psyche myself up for work…

I was never a skincare junkie except for perhaps when I had more than 50 pieces of face-masks purchased from various sources at a period in time (I think I still have about that number or slightly less now). I don’t mask as often these days because I am just lazy although I think I should keep up the regime especially since time is not forgiving on ageing skin particularly when I don’t take extremely good care of it and I am not blessed with good skin…

I bought some stuff from Jurlique whilst in Brisbane, but have only used the neck serum. I can’t really tell if it works although the I really like the herbal smell. Well, if you see me with less lines on my neck then perhaps it is working miracles, if not then oh well, we are yet again contributing to the bottom line of another cosmetic/skincare brand.

Seems like day breaks pretty early over there, because I remember seeing rays of sunlight as early as 5-ish in the mornings. So I woke just before 6am on Saturday morning to catch my flight back, and on the way to the airport, I was greeted by a sky with the loveliest shade of blue that was sort of concealed by the white fluffy clouds. I wonder if it is the locality of the cities, but we never seem to get this colour of sky here do we? Or there is just not a wide enough expanse of it to make me realise how beautiful our skies can be.

And yes, I finally caught Alice in Wonderland yesterday! Ok, I must admit that as usual, JD looks weird as an overly made-up Mad Hatter, and frankly I couldn’t catch all of the dialogue that went on among the characters. The movie was very Tim Burton-style, and I’m not sure if it correlates closely to the original story because, was there a white queen in the first place? Anyway, I rather enjoyed it for its quirkiness, and the contrast between the red and white queens and their respective palaces/castles. I like Tim Burton’s movies because they are always so whimsical with an underlying dark feel to it, and not totally fairytale-like.

The Sunday started out hot and sunny, and whilst enjoying my usual cuppa it started pouring buckets! Rain is never the same here as elsewhere, because even with the rain coming in sheets and torrents, it was still warm and humid thereafter, except where the powerful blasting airconditioning was working indoors. I think we need to find new places to chill and enjoy the scenery/peace/whatever, because town is becoming overcrowded and boring. Yet I crave the cool indoor comfort in our humidity.

Sushi Tei at Paragon offers quite a nice ambience away from the conveyor belts. We were seated in the deeper part of the restaurant that looks out to Orchard Road, although I couldn’t see the road from where I was, but I could see Ngee Ann City directly across. As the last sunlight disappeared and the cobalt twilight hues took over, the dimly-lit interior with a halo of light just over your table seem to give you that private space although tables with other patrons are side-by-side. Of course you could still hear other people talking because we are really not that far apart, but if you get the gist of what they were trying to do… Rainy weather is great for hotpot, although we probably ordered too much food for the 2 of us.

Ended the night with a concert that was part of the Mosaic Music Festival at the esplanade. Au Revoir Simone was cute and their songs were catchy and dreamy to me. It was a free-standing event that came with a complimentary drink, and what other drink would I choose other than the Heineken, the proud sponsors. I love the bottle that it came in, a lightweight steel/metal casing that is a refreshing change from the glass bottles we are used to having our beers in. The only drawback was that standing at a concert is really not quite for me now, because after 1.5hours on my feet, I felt the pressure in my knees and the soreness in my back. Hehe, that’s growing old for you.

I want to go shopping and I want to buy a new bag!

And why was the release date of Shutter Island postponed? Zzz.