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Selects' Series - The Observatory

Selects' Series - The Observatory

Back with another edition of Selects', this time round we are lucky to have the members of the Observatory pick out some LPs that they are currently digging (Some from our Online Catalog).

With their most recent release available now via Ujikaji Records featuring Haino Keiji - "Authority is Alive", we thought it will be a perfect time to catch up with them and trace their musical inspirations.

*More from Ujikaji Records here

This select's series in our opinion really highlights the dynamics of The Observatory as a whole - with all three members bringing different selections as individuals but somehow blended in a cohesive way. From the avant folk sounds from poet and artist Wendy Eisenberg to the recent release by Duma right up to the hair-standing induced sounds of Okkyung Lee's 2013 release Ghil - We are sure that you will find something lovely to discover on here just like we did. Have a read and let the journey begin.

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Cheryl Ong

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1. Anoushka Shankar ‎– Love Letters

Saw this on the featured list of Analog Vault’s website and I had to second this choice. Was listening to this when it was released a few months back and I recall putting in on repeat for days on end. There’s a certain vulnerability in the music when it is so striped down in its arrangement.. there are some parts where you can just hear her sitar cry. The careful blend of pop & Indian scales in the music combined with straightforward, gut-punching lyrics and vocals make for a heartbreakingly beautiful album. 

2. Duma – Duma

Super distorted electronic beats on speed with synth lines that sometimes almost feel like a misfit but somehow goes well together mixed with extremely aggressive vocals. This album is super intense and every time I listen to it, it feels like a mind workout, as if I’m dancing frenetically with flailing limbs in extreme heat. If my step counter could calculate this, it would be the equivalent of a 45 minute HIIT workout. However this sonic assault is much more enjoyable than a HIIT session, that’s for sure.

3. Ahwar – Nadah El Shazly

Nadah El Shazly writes beautifully haunting melodies and her voice and delivery adds on to the listening experience. The arrangements are just exquisite - there are sections of free-improvisation with some structural quality that weave in and out of each other, creating layers of listening. Kudos to Nadah and the musicians who played on this, as well as the different producers/ arrangers that pieced this together. A very well-produced album indeed!

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Dharma

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1. Scott Walker – The Childhood of a Leader OST

Was looking through the Analog Vault's list and noticed this. It’s a pity this movie didn’t get much acclaim, I thought it was really good. And the soundtrack, well you cant go wrong with Scott Walker, this was his last few works before passing on. There’s no vocals and the compositions (very chamber and orchestral) are good, really great sound too. Another one that I would love to listen to on vinyl.

2. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica

It took me more than 20 years from the time I first heard this album to finally appreciate it. It's simply brilliant, the compositions, recording, playing, lyrics, titles, cover etc - Fast and bulbous! I’m really looking forward to hearing it on vinyl and wearing the t-shirt too, pls help!      

3. Wendy Eisenberg - Auto

This releases in a couple of weeks, mid Oct. 2 songs are up for preview and does sound pretty promising, with one song addressing their (note: Eisenberg identifies as non-binary) experience of being assaulted. Wendy is mainly a guitar player and singer-songwriter, but also a very talented multi-instrumentalist.

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Yuen Chee Wai

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1. Okkyung Lee – Ghil | Ideologic Organ – SOMA012

Okkyung gave me this LP as a present a few years ago when we were in Tokyo. I had listened to it a number of times before, ever wondering how she managed to coax all those sounds out from her cello. I recently took it out to listen again after reading a short essay that she wrote in Spectres II (Resonances) where she described briefly how it was recorded with Lasse Marhaug. With this new information about how it was produced, it once again opened up my ears and gave a whole new listening experience. Such an amazing album.

2. Pan Sonic and Haino Keiji – In The Studio |  Blast First Petite ‎– PTYT 043

 Recorded in 2007, and released in 2010 on Blast First, this is definitely an album I will still continue listening to for many years to come. I constantly discover new things every time I listen to it. In this collaboration, we see Haino-san with a full array of instruments, all blending seamlessly with Mika and Ilpo’s sound, which I felt was also pushed to the maximum with this generous and dynamic assault of sounds thrown at them. The world lost a really talented and brilliant musician Mika Vainio too soon.  

3. Bill Orcutt – Odds Against Tomorrow |  Palilalia Records – PAL056

 

I have been listening to this on repeat the past two weeks. I really enjoy his duo with Chris Corsano as well, kind of like a natural extension from Harry Pussy. But this is something else. Introspective, almost like his 2017 solo electric guitar album, but more tender. The title track cuts deep, as well a lovely cover of Moon River. A Writhing Jar gives a sense of Steve Reich. Man Dies is also incredible. While it is seemingly stripped down straightforward guitar work, but lying behind this simplicity are so many details in the touch, the songwriting and the tone of the guitar with a perfectly dialed drive amplified through probably a Fender Twin Reverb.

- The End -