comforting sounds

This is one of the rare occasions in which I feel the cover goes beyond the original song, giving it a whole new dimension and interpretation.

The harmonisation of piano keys and various strings, together with Birdy’s vocals at her best and most haunting, results in what I consider to be her best, although not most well-known cover performance. I’m not the biggest fan of Birdy, although I think she has a pretty decent and impressive voice. But this choice of song completely takes her vocals to a new level.

And that’s really saying a lot, considering how this original song by Danish band Mew is a composition I really revere and enjoy.

This particular song called Comforting Sounds, while not entirely accurate to simply label as my favourite song of all time, holds a very special meaning in my heart. It has been with me through a lot of key moments in my life. I believe we all have that one song in our lives.

Which is why this OOH campaign by Spotify (“Thanks 2016, it’s been weird.”) is one of my favourite examples of advertising. It is also a exemplary case of how useful insights can be extracted from numbers and data to create meaningful messages to connect with people:

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See the rest of the brilliant campaign here

The song Comforting Sounds begins with the lyrics “I don’t feel alright…despite all the comforting sounds that you make.” 

That’s the opening line that gives the title its name, but truth is, the entire track is an amazing hypnotic mixture of comforting sounds – both the original version and Birdy’s strings rendition.

This is my go-to therapy song whenever I need to feel that it’s ok not to be okay, just like last night when I was sitting at the bay of the Singapore River, staring at the golden glitter of light reflections in the rippling waters, until my vision became a blur of starlight.

Often it’s the moments we share with a song that gives it meaning, as though it were a person by our side, from which we gain solace and calm amidst anxiety, sorrow, and many other emotions language cannot find names for.

The most amazing thing about this song is how it’s a full nine-minute track, of which the later two-thirds have no vocals, only pure instrumental beauty. Yet it doesn’t feel that long, in fact, not long enough maybe, for I always get this feeling of lingering yearning at the end, as the cymbals come to a crash. It’s a feeling of knowing something inevitably has to end, and accepting and anticipating it, yet not without a wishful thinking for the moment to go on forever.

It’s also the song that first got me to encounter and fall in love with the genre of post-rock, because of the layers upon layers of instruments and sounds that build up gradually in a canon, as though painting on a canvas. Listening to songs like these feels like walking through a journey.

Leaving this post with a beautifully shot black and white film of their live performance in Beijing 2015, as I look forward to their concert in Singapore on Sunday. Thank you for coming to Singapore it is really an unexpected and joyful surprise :,)

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Don’t forget all this.

I’ve got a long day ahead with a mountain of work, so here I am, drinking Kopi-C Gao (coffee with evaporated milk, thick) and treating myself to my favourite Singapore breakfast – kaya toast. Found a nice little coffee shop near my office. It’s something I will inevitably miss when I’m away from home.

It’s Friday today, my first TGIF on this job. Although it’s only been a week, the work has been quite demanding. And draining – or maybe I just need time to get used to it.

I’m a copywriter, using my love for words for commercial purposes. Not exactly something I’m passionate about, but it’s okay, I don’t hate it and it’s the best thing I am capable of doing – writing. Putting my words to good use. But is it really good? Words are powerful, but there are so many ways of using it.

Our clients want profit, and yesterday as I was working on social media posts, I couldn’t help but think again, sometimes the sincerity shown by corporations seem ironically, insincere. Sincerity becomes a means to an end – winning over customers. So is that really sincere in itself?

When you’re caught in the grind, there’s no time or space for these thoughts. Which is why, I figured, people are able to go on despite being exhausted or drained by the routine.

But today, on the bus ride to work, caught in the traffic, I kept my eyes open and noticed the little things. The way I used to. As I was listening to this track, I remember who I have always been. Something I do not want to lose.

I saw many things – the reservoir, the people jogging or going for a stroll. The whole stretch of beach along East Coast Park, running parallel to the expressway. And then, as we were stuck in traffic, I saw two motorcyclists actually talking to each other and having a conversation, side by side. A precious little moment in this busy city.

There is so much to see, so much to feel, and so much to say. Yet we’re all reduced, subdued versions of ourselves.

What are your hobbies? What movies do you like? What is your favourite kind of music?

All this small talk, I wish I could ask, do you want the long or short answer? In other words, are you asking because you really care, or simply out of politeness or a dislike for awkward silence?

I like traveling, because I find it a pity that we are born into our selves at a specific time and space. Traveling allows me to live more than one life, to experience life in more than one way. That’s why I do not go for things and places tourists like. I try to observe the locals and live like them, seeing all the imperfections of each place.

For the same reason, I like world cinema, because I believe we should step out of the media and world narrative dominated by America. Sitting in a dark cinema with a story from another person from another part of the world makes me feel like I am traveling too, and for those hundred minutes or so I experience life from another person’s or people’s perspective.

Books, I guess it’s the same. I like non fiction prose, relating to culture or social issues. I just read this, this and this and loved all of it. And this too, written by a journalist with that penchant for minimal sharp prose.

Music? I can’t paper bag them into genres. But here’s a track that sort of sums up what I love:

Don’t forget all of this.