Thursday, September 28, 2006

Enigma 6: A Posteriori


For me the Soul of Enigma consists all of the following:

  1. Mysterious Sensual Ambience - I would say that this feature is still present in E6.

  2. Tribal (or Inspired) Dance Beats / Sounds of Aliens / Classical Music - Something old, something classical, something folk. This feature is important as it is part and parcel of what makes Enigma sound strange in a unique and exceptional way. There is not much of Tribal (or Tribal Inspired) Dance Beats in this album. The only song with such feature is "Dancing with Mephisto" and "Hello and Welcome". Give and take "Sounds of Aliens" is present in "Message from IO" and "Northern Lights".

  3. Operatic/Folk singing, Whispers - Somehow, they are present in "Dreaming of Andromeda" and "Dancing with Mephisto", "Eppur Si Muove"4) Pop ballads - "Sitting on the Moon"

So, if all the items above are somehow present, one wonders what is missing? Why does it not meet my requirements of what is considered an excellent album?__________________________________________________________________________________________

Perhaps we should look into the details of the mixing and arrangements of the album.

1) Flow arrangement of tracks: The flow from one track to another is not as clean. In fact previous albums and E5 has a better flow than E6. Most of the tracks in E6 sound as if they start and end on their own disregarding the nature of music in the next track.

2) Operatic/Folk singing do not cleanly "gel" and somehow their presence is limited in every song: They are not formed as important indispensable fabric/background to the songs as evident in past tracks "Gravity of Love", "Sadeness", "Beyond The Invisible" and "Return to Innocence". Forgetting the chants/operas/folk, at least the alien quivering sound in E5 is prevalent throughout most of the tracks such as "Incognito", "Page of Cups" etc.

3) It is hard to catch the conceptual connections between the male vocals in certain tracks with the female opera singer, the eastern folk singer in "Goodbye Milky Way", the Heavy Beats and the Space. Some of the tracks in LSD Remix Collection sounds more Spacey and Edgy than E6

4) Therefore, this leads to the consistency of the album. If you listen carefully most of the tracks will not have feature (2), (3) and (4) (of "Soul of Enigma") together in a single song, which is unlike all previous albums where most tracks will have at least two to three of the combinations. The only two tracks having the combined nature are "Dancing With Mephisto" and "Goodbye Milky Way".

5) The album concept is not rich enough. I would always have a preference of E5 over E6. At least E5 has more tribal inspired electronic beats, more tribal inspired backup vocals (listen to "Incognito"), eerie quivering alien sampled voices ("Page of Cups" and other tracks), Bollywood (The Indian Hollywood) music inspired tracks (Boum Boum), Chamber music-Electronica fusion in "From East to West", "In The Shadow, In The Light", "The Piano". Overall theme, it gives the feeling of Aliens visiting the ancient world before there was a civilisation. Forget about the real samplings of chants/operas, at least E5 has some techno-dance works, chillout tracks and more unique pop songs, which the latter two is clearly missing from E6.

Generally, this album is considerably OK. After all, disregarding the mentioned points, the beats and music is still enjoyable and good. It still does contain the elements of a successful Enigma album only to a much lesser extent. However, from a creative standpoint, I would have preferred an album with items above.

Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sarah Vaughan: The Essential

The CD contains some of her best works of which she employs her big vocal range (soprano to baritone), sweet, sassy voice and excellent signature vibrato (as evident on "Speak Low") on various styles of music. As a Great American Songbook interpreter, her technique is good and musicians treat her as a part of their own due to her creativity in music improvisation and utilisation of her voice as a musical instrument (scat-singing).

Typically most of her songs are of jazz. However, the other variants are:
  1. Doo-wop - All of Me
  2. Oldies - Broken-Hearted Melody
  3. Classical - My Man's Gone Now (Written by Gershwin)
  4. Bossa Nova - Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Latin version sung by Astrud Gilberto)
  5. Blues - No Count Blues
This CD is good, especially for starters. Sarah Vaughan is quite a diverse artiste. If you find any of the styles above is good, try getting her CDs, which is of the same genre that you like:
  1. Doo-wop - Count Basie & Sarah Vaughan (collaborative work)
  2. Oldies - *
  3. Classical - Sarah Sings Gershwin
  4. Bossa Nova - I Love Brazil , Copacabana
  5. Blues - *
  6. Swing - Sarah Swings Tivoli, Swingin' Easy
  7. Broadway - Sarah Sings Broadway
  8. Cool Jazz - Crazy and Mixed Up
It should be taken note that, in a quirk of nature, her voice "dropped" in her later years of her career. In the late 70s to 1990, her range increased "downwards" significantly (to the baritone level). At that point of time, her voice becomes less sweeter, but she sounds fuller. At this point of time, her voice has certain deep smoky quality. Her vocal technique is at her best and deserves recommendation, as evident in these albums:
  1. Crazy and Mixed Up - Cool jazz
  2. Send In The Clowns
  3. How Long Has This Been Going On? - The smokey voice is more evident here
The only album that I will not recommend is Sarah Swings The Beatles. The production of the songs will not appeal to listeners who like her singing. The mixing of the music is poor as well.
* Still searching for the appropriate album. Will update once I get it [Songs are present in this album but I have yet to know which album they belong to]

In overall this CD is Highly Recommended for New Listeners of Jazz. Serious Jazz Listeners can opt for more well-defined CDs that I have mentioned.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Impossible Absolute Democracy: Malaysian Racist and Extremist Eyes

Referring to a link from Malaysia Today:

Majority of Malaysians like to blame other races or religions for anything bad that happens to their own community without thinking and going into detail of the reasons of the happenings.
There are plenty of resources that can be read/discussed but not being approached, or rather being approached with a one-sided thinking.

A lot of Malaysians think themselves as Malaysians First. However, from a conclusive research made, it is very obvious that many still do not exactly think that way.

We are still deeply binded by the concept of race and religion (both are Self Interests) rather than National Interest as a whole in priority.

As Malaysians, generally, now, we still do not think of the other races/religious practitioners as our brothers. We think only of our own priority, we do not care which race will get left behind in our pursuit of development and riches. For some, we do not care which communities will get hit if hardcore laws were to be implemented.

In terms of criticism, many of us tend to slam the religions and races of others when we do not like what was being said instead of slamming on the person that we disagree with. Besides that, nasty names were called and abuses were hurled disregarding the results of the remarks made.
Imagine if those nasty remarks were to be made on national television. Pictures speak louder than words. Pictures combined with nasty words speak even louder. What would be the impact of it?

Will it further divide the races/religious practitioners? Will we cause civil war? Will this do any good to our Beloved Malaysia, our Motherland. Will this enable certain parties to "Divide and Conquer" us for their own benefit?

Does hurling profanities make people change their mind or make them reject us even further?

This is one of the reasons on why Absolute Democracy is not possible here. Sadly, Dr M is absolutely right in this context.

Perhaps, we should use a mirror, reflect upon ourselves whether we are in the same categories before we call other racists or religious extremists. More often than not, we are ...

I recall this from a lyrics of a song:
"I'm starting with the man in the mirror,
I'm asking him to change his ways,
And no message could have been any clearer,
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change"

Bless you Malaysia, Pluralism is your strength as well as your Deep Inherent Weakness when exploited.

"When you Look into the Mirror, the Eyes of Truth is Always Watching You".

God Bless our Malaysia, please do not kill Malaysia by ourselves. Think about it. Thanks and Regards...