Leslie Low... picture by Fadila.
to Time Of Rebirth, one gets the idea that The Observatory is
so-called because it offers us observations on life and relationships.
The album is an exploration into the nature of life and how it
is tied to or limited by time, set against an electro-acoustic
dreamscape of sounds.
is appropriate then, that the album opens with Hows Life.
Singer-songwriter Leslie Low expands and transforms this trite
casual greeting between acquaintances into a philosophical examination
of how the individual regards life: "Life is slow/Oh do
we know that its meant to be?" and "Do
we ever grow up?" Hows Life forces the listener
to take some time out to make a serious reflection on what life
really means and how he or she lives it.
next song, Killing Time, has a related message. Sung by Vivian
Wang in a coolly detached and understated elegiac tone, its
about how we use or abuse (that is, "kill") the time
given us. It laments: "Sad is the man with an empty life."
The transient nature of earthly life is also pondered upon in
Another Passerby. In this song, Low sings about people "coming
and going" through his life, passing him by. It also hints
at a failed relationship: "Heavy cloud hovers by/Its
been a year of giving and forgiving." As time, life and
people flow past him, he seems to remain stranded and declares,
rather matter-of-factly, without any trace of self-pity: "Of
all the things to do these days/I cannot find the meaning."
Leslie and Vivian.
The individuals search for transcendence or meaning in life
seems to be a major pre-occupation for Low. This is borne out
in Hearts And Souls, where he asks, "Can we ever know
the meaning of our hearts and our souls?" and also, "What
are we missing again?" On the title track, he also offers,
"When will we learn to admit defeat?/Time understands
when it wants to," probably as an acknowledgement of
the futility in trying to attain a perfect understanding of life
on our own finite terms.
complement the generally melancholic and introspective mood of
the lyrics, the musical accompaniment for the songs is an ambitious
blend of acoustic and electronic instruments that are mostly played
at a down-tempo pace, with fetching yet subdued jazzy melodies
- for example, the track Ask. In addition, the volume of performance
is also deliberately kept from hitting the upper range of the
decibel scale, thereby creating a mellow, dreamy quality that
permeates the entire album. On the whole, the bands attempt
to achieve a harmonious fusion between acoustic and electronic
sounds is largely viable. On Killing Time, intriguing electronically-generated
sound effects are subtly employed in the background to imbue the
song with an atmosphere of other-worldliness.
Of Rebirth is a timely way-station on the journey of life. It
is a much-needed transitory point in time and space to take stock
of ones past experiences and present circumstances before
embarking on a new leg of this pilgrimage whose final destination
is always hidden from us. And, given the current bleak condition
of the world, it could not have come at a better time.
The Observatory can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A MATTER OF STRATEGY
If The Observatory's Evan Tan is a familiar face, that's because
Tan was once upon a time a member of Opposition Party and
the Padres. Recently, on his own, he has performed in the
Strategies series of concerts.
CLICK HERE to find out
more about this series of electronic avant garde performances,
co-ordinated by George Chua. Review of Strategies v.01 by