have always been fascinated with music. Recently, I googled "music" and explored various knowledge sites. It seems that the word "music" came from the word "Muses" that means the daughters of Zues who are advocates of knowledge such as Literature, Geography, Mathematics and, of course, Music. Personally, my passion does include Music. Only yesterday I had a jamming session with a famous local composer, Ahmad Izham Omar. We played some Blues and Rock and Roll alongside the band members of D'Kechewas (Azhar, Iesta, Kamal and Eddy). Our favourite genres may differ but once the band members click together, they produce magic... music magic. As an extension to my love for music, yesterday (also), I bought a brand new electric guitar - an Ibanez SA Series - in dark sexy red. I call her Scarlet Ibanez. Scarlet will share jamming studio with my other acquisitions, Sabrina Gibson and Frieda Fender. These 3 females are the only females that my wife will not be jealous of :)
So, given this passion, I thought I might as well end 2014 with a blog post that is less technical, more cultured, no politics and explores the right side of the brain (mine) that sheldom gets attention. Hence, I would like to share with you my pick on the Top 10 Best Music Albums... the kind where you will like all the songs and not skip tracks. Of course these are biased towards my kind of genre, which is rock. The Top 10s, in no particular order, are:
1. ... and Justice for All - Metallica: Metallica has always been my favourite band. There is no wonder why I start the list with Metallica. To be honest, my favourite album from Metallica is Master of Puppets because of a few songs, namely, Master of Puppets, Orion and Welcome Home (Sanitarium). However, I do skip some songs when I play the album. ... and Justice for All on the other hand, gives me a fuller appreciation of an album. I can just let it play from track 1 till the end. I think this is because, by far, this album showcases the best of musical performance of all the individual musicians in the band. The infamous bass drum beats by Ulrich and the mind blowing chords arrangement by Hetfield just set the benchmark for Heavy Metal. This album was also the debut for their bassist, Newstead.
2. Appetite for Destruction - Guns n' Roses: I grew up in the late 80's and early 90's where Rock and Roll was still strong. At that time hip hop was creeping into the mainstream pop culture and rock was diminishing. The only surviving Rock and Roll bands at that time were Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Guns n' Roses. This album showcases magnificent Rock and Roll with Slash shocking the world with his awesome Blues scaled solos on the Gibson Les Paul and a music wizard touch for Rock and Roll by Izzy Stradlin, it just makes it a complete shout when Axl clads those songs with his lyrics.
3. Come Hell of High Water - Deep Purple: What can I say? All 80's and 90's rock bands must have had their references from their predecessors. Deep Purple goes deep into influencing many rockers. Not so much of Rock and Roll but what they represented was the epitome evolution into Heavy Metal. The mastermind, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, is a genius. While other guitarist were still exploring the usual Blues scaled Pentatonic on Minor to suit the Rock genre, he was already on an adventure to go beyond those scales and combining other patterns inclusive of arpeggios at a tremendous speed. I salute Blackmore. True enough, when I had my guitar lessons, Deep Purple's solos are some of the toughest to follow. This album is a live recording of a decent selection of their songs.
4. Celebration Day - Led Zeppelin: Enjoying Deep Purple was intense. It gets too technical. When you wanna get out of that zone and just wanna be relaxed, Led Zeppelin offers a soothing easy Blues Rock and Roll feel. It feels good when you can play along the guitar solos with Jimmy Page as his was the usual template. What makes them cool is the grove in each song. It is the kind of Rock that does not demand head banging but a hippie dance.. whatever that means. That is the sort of happiness that Robert Plant can offer to his listeners. Celebration Day is a live recording of a reunion concert of the band members (the dead drummer, Bonham, was replaced by his son). At an old age, they can still perform a mind blowing Rock and Roll saga.
5. The Pulse - Pink Floyd: At one point, I had enough of Heavy Metals and Rock and Rolls. I wanted an alternative source of music appreciation. At that time, alternative meant the Grunge bands like Nirvana. However, I chose to look back. When everyone was hypnotised by Rock and Roll, Pink Floyd was already branching into alternative realm just like how Salvador Dali went into surrealism when other painters were on their tracks for modernist expressionism. This is also a recording of a live concert that has songs from across all of their albums. Floyd's fresh outlook into music brings you to a fantasy journey. You need not move your body to appreciate it. Your mind does all the work. Truly magnificent. Kudos to their main movers Roger Walters and Dave Gilmore.
6. Rubber Soul - The Beatles: Having Izham Omar as my mentor in music cannot depart me away from his favourite band, the Beatles. Their genre may not be within my likings but the relevance of what they contributed to the mushrooming of rock bands across the globe is just phenomenon. Some appreciation are acquired taste. Some required a bit of convincing before you can say, "Ahhh,.. I get it!" So I decided to buy all the albums by the Beatles. My first impression was, wow, Pink Floyd was not the only experimental alternative band of their time, the Beatles was the epitome unprecedented trend changer. You cannot imagine how they can be ahead of their time. Given my taste in genre, I have decided to choose a darker, less fun fair type melodic numbers. Hence Rubber Soul.
7. Ten - Pearl Jam: In the late 90's, many alternative (Grunge) bands emerged. These are the usual 4-chords per song type music with distortions to hide technicalities and sometimes, the bloody guitarists went against the normal convention for guitar string tunning of E-A-D-G-B-E. In that ocean of alternative bands, Pearl Jam made their way up by combining both Grunge and Rock and Roll feel. This way, they captured both youth and matured audiences. It was quite delightful for me to have known about them as they provided a bridge between the old wave (Rock and Roll) and the new (Grunge). So far, Eddie Vedder is my favourite Rock vocalist because his voice offers the depth for songs that comes from a wide spectrum of genre.
8. Live in UK - Helloween: Exploring rock uncovers many sub-genres. You have Rock and Roll for a start. Then Heavy Metal, Black Metal, Grunge Alternative, and there was Speed Metal. Having the melody and the groves were not the only attributes that give you the adrenalin rush. Speed is the new substance for youngsters. Helloween is speed like no other. Their songs are so damn fast and with that crunchy "distortion"ed guitar riffs coupled with their shrieking-voiced vocalist, you are set to fuel your momentum especially when running a marathon. Live in UK is a live recording of a selection of songs from their albums. The reaction of the crowd in that concert, as apparent from the recording, is just overwhelming. People sang along to numbers such as Dr Stein and Future World.
9. Blood Sugar Sex Magic - Red Hot Chilli Peppers: In my quest to diversify my music appreciation (instead of remaining in the myopic world of Rock), Funk was a good chapter to push me to the boundaries but not too far. It was a rewarding journey. I used to practise my drumming to Red Hot Chilli Pepper's songs because their colourful Funk breaks the monotonous structure that Rock had traditionally embedded. Thanks to the drummer, Chad Smith, Red Hot Chilli Peppers managed to secure its position as the leading Funk band. Over its life this band produced many good albums but none ever surpassed the popularity of this album. Every song in this album tells a different musical story but yet all portraying that unique selling proposition of a new age Funk advocate.
10. Son gs of Innocence - U2: U2 is an Irish band that accumulated fan base big enough to challenge Madonna or even Michael Jackson in the 90's. The albums that made them famous were Joshua Tree and, subsequently, Achtung Baby. For me, notwithstanding that my favourite U2 songs are from these 2 albums, I still find myself skipping one or two songs when playing them. This year, 2014, they released their new album, Son gs of Innocence. The album showcases fresh new sounds but yet, unmistakenably U2 predominantly as a result of Bono's voice, that familiar drum beats by Muller and Adam's heartfelt bass lines. The Edge, the guitarist/keyboardist, on the other hand, has matured in song writing producing the most melodic albums I have ever heard. Kudos.
There you go! You may agree or not agree with my pick but hey, it's my post and this is who I am..... a rocker!! Have a pleasant year end holidays and see you in 2015!
PUNCAK AHRAM literally means the "Zenith of a Pyramid". There are no pyramids in this work. Rather, zenith here represents a subliminal state of mind that this piece represents. It is the peace of mind associated with enlightenment achieveable via methods such as Yoga and other forms of spiritual contemplations. To achieve that feel (of subliminal enlightenment), a departure from contemporary genre is warranted resulting in a Modernist Abstract Expressionism approach with a hint of Pop Art to contemporarise it back.
ASIMILASI is about assimilation of the diverse ethnic groups in Malaysia establishing a one nation identity, i.e. 1Malaysia. This process has been in progress since the 1800's when the colonial master, the British Empire, brought in Chinese for mining activities and Indians for agriculture. The assimilation has, to some extent, achieved harmonisation given that the different ethnic groups have co-existed for more than 2 centuries. Each element represents an ethnic group: Lantern for Chinese; Peacock for Indian; Keris (the Dagger) for Malay and the backdrop motives for the Indigeneous. One statement that is relevant for all of these ethnic groups to consider would be those Chinese characters on the lantern that say, "Loyalty to the Nation."
The image on the left is a study piece for the real work above. The study piece consists of pencil and marker sketches done way back in 1992 for my school magazine, Perintis. Then I added a digital montage work of images from the internet, namely the peacock and the lantern. As you may notice, the real work does not follow the study exactly. I have decided to enlarge the peacock, enhance the lanterns with golden icons (Peacock, Dragon, Ocean and Plants), chose a totally different Keris head with self created design elaboration; and, changed from a typical Malay motive design to that of Borneo.
I am an islander,.. well, the island of Penang! Now living in Shah Alam with my beautiful family after having to travel the world for ages: Ipoh for secondary; Melbourne for tertiary; Perth, Guam-USA, Marianna Islands, Marshall Islands, Kerteh!, London, Miami, Cairo and KL for work. Chartered Accountant by training (Media Prima, PwC, Deloitte and Petronas) and now entrusted to manage MyCreative Ventures, a government investment arm for Malaysian creative industry. My passion has always been "creativity" in whatever form - hence this blog came to life.