Review for Sound Out Singapore

I got to know urmymuse from ccMixter. Invited him to listen to our 4th album.

He was kind enough to leave this comment!

Hi Starfish Stories … I have given your latest album “2010 Sound Out Singapore” a few spins now. The mix of subtle eastern atmospheres along with great themes/tunes and an intelligent rock base works really well. I-Ling’s lovely vocal on “Open the Door” kicks it off beautifully, but the other tracks stand out too. I think my favourite of the instrumental tracks is “Petals in a crystal stream”. Really great work, looking forward to the next one.

Thanks for the encouragement!

~ Ivan

What is “Deeper Than Purple”?

Rosli Mansor: Deeper Than PurpleMonths ago, I promised a young acquaintance that I’ll write a review of Rosli Mansor’s second album.

I had difficulty finding the right words though.

In desperation (to live up to my promise), I decided to just put down everything else about the album, other than the music.

Here’s what I can easily tell you:
This album is yet another top-notch production from Rosli Mansor and crew.

My musical reference for his music is that he sounds most like Carlos Santana. Added to that are strains of Satriani, with a touch of Vai as well. But on top of all that musical swirls, my untrained ears seem to detect fragments of contemporary Malay rock music in Rosli’s compositions.

His choice of musical gears gives his tracks a consistent and distinctive voice too.

Ah, his playing — as I mentioned in this review, every note of his sounds like they are there for a purpose. It’s not shredding for shredding’s sake.

My favourite tracks would be the ethereal and acoustically-emo “What the Moon Said”, and the Jammin’-like-Joe (Satriani) “Tea Transfer System”.

Those two tracks really hit a sweet spot.

Elusive words
Here’s the hard part.

After several earlier attempts to find words for the album overall, all that came to mind was… so-so!

That really troubled me.

I was about to describe Rosli Mansor’s album as “mediocre“, when he’s clearly more technically-able and musically more accomplished musician that I am.


But today, that changed.

All because I listened to the album in sequence (I kid you not).

The funny thing was that earlier on, I’d mostly listened to the album in Shuffle mode. Somehow, doing so didn’t have that impact as listening in its original sequence. The overall flavour was more coherent in the latter mode.

Maybe it’s something about the overall pace and tonal flavours between tracks. Or maybe I’m in a calmer mood today. Might have been the positive ions in the air, after the light evening rain. Whatever.

But I realised the real change (in opinion) was that I simply let the music flow.

Never mind the right words.

Never mind that I’d offend a better musician.

Never mind that I still didn’t know what Deeper Than Purple meant.

It dawned on me that in wanting to do justice to Rosli Mansor’s music, I’d lost focus of what I should really be doing.


Forget about interpreting the music.

Forget about trying to appear clever, Ivan.

Just enjoy the tracks.

And honest-to-goodness, I did.

Mediocre, this album is not.

~ Ivan
p.s. Preview tracks at

Here’s their earlier album launch promo video.

Jamendo reviews and compliments for CTDN album

What a surprise!

Received these reviews for our Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula album, posted at
Jamendo reviews for "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula" album

Had to use Google Translate, as the reviews are in French.

The first one was from Jamendo musician, Forfly. His review, in machine-translated English, said:

How has it been possible to miss that?
Here is a superb album unjustly forgotten by critics, that Jaz has uncovered and reported to me – I thank the passage.

Apart from the Title 5, which I believe breaks the mood a bit, all the rest of the album is bathed in a warm and silky.

The guitars are beautiful, deliciously lyrical, they are the center of musical discourse with, however, one exception: under 6, which is sung (very beautiful ballad pop-rock).

Really, listen to this album!

[Original comment at Jamendo | Translated via Google]

If that wasn’t cool enough, here’s the second review by Jaz (who was apparently the one who made the initial recommendation):

From the guitar and good things
These are two musicians who deserve better than the 2 or 3 reviews that have so far had their three albums. Music pretty cool I think, with good guitars that do not strafe in any direction. Stay tuned.

[Original comment at Jamendo | Translated via Google]

Just when I thought those were it, we received a third! From zephiria67:

Good album
Thank you for the recommendation to Forfly if I was missing. I loved the guitar playing, all compounds which plunges into a warm and energetic atmosphere. I loved “Goodnight not goodbye. Thank you for sharing

[Original comment at Jamendo | Translated via Google]

You might think I’m making such a big deal over reviews. Well, if they are a rare thing… LOL

It’s funny. The reviews came at a time when I was wondering if I should continue to upload tracks to Jamendo (in addition to Bandcamp). They were a timely reminder that I should, because of the different audiences. Jamendo seems to have a lot more users from Europe while Bandcamp seems predominantly for and by the North American side.

I was telling our friend I-Ling that if she can help us find the equivalent music social network in China, then we’ll conquer the world. Ah, delusions of grandeur. 🙂

This reminds me: I’ve been sitting on several reviews for the CTDN album. Will post them up soon.

~ Ivan

Email to the fanclub

Sent to the ‘fans’ on 7 Aug 2010:

Hey there!
Yes, you among the 124 people who’ve joined the official Starfish Stories FB fanclub (and were too lazy to unsub).

Here’s the band’s 4th CC-licensed album, for your listening pleasure:

Why are these two jokers releasing two albums in the same year, you ask?

This one is special. It’s for a cause

The backstory is at this blog post:

Adrian and Ivan have even teamed up with a vocalist named I-Ling (this isn’t a typo; it’s on her NRIC). You can hear her at the first track. She wrote the lyrics too. The rest of the tracks are instrumentals (the guys didn’t want to spoil a good thing and wisely refrained from singing).

The guys say they welcome your comment/ critique at the blog post (you don’t have to worry about being nice either):

In spite of what people tell them, Adrian and Ivan plan to continue making music. Their 5th CC-licensed album is slated for release in early 2011.

Starfish Stories :: The Band

Band bio for the “2010 Sound Out Singapore” album

The nice folks at asked for our band bio (we produced this album in support of their campaign) and posted it here.

Starfish Stories: The Band comprise of two Singaporeans, Adrian Loo ( and Ivan Chew (

They attended the same Secondary school more than 20 years ago. But didn’t keep in touch after that. In 2007, one of them recognised a familiar name in an email that he was about to discard unread. After reconnecting, they discovered a shared interest in music and mucking around on their Macs (GarageBand, to be specific). Four months later, they released their first Creative Commons licensed online album.

No rehearsals or jam practices. Nor studio time (unless you consider a home computer as a studio). Thanks to email and the Internet, they didn’t have to quit their day-jobs in order to work on their music (their wives would be very, very upset if they did). Then they figured they might as well give themselves a band name: “Starfish Stories :: The Band” (cos all other cool names were taken).

For the SoundOutSG music project, they are grateful to have I-Ling ( on vocals. I-Ling considers herself a regular office worker, resuscitating her college dream of writing and singing original songs. She says she does not play any musical instrument (though Adrian and Ivan think her voice beats their guitar work any time). I-Ling talks a lot. It’s to do with her work; not because she’s female. She reckons she has found another purpose for her vocal chords — in music.

Adrian is a teacher with a PhD. Ivan is a librarian with an MSc.

They have no formal training in music.

That has never stopped them from making noise.

Adrian and Ivan would be extremely pleased if you use or share their music. All their works are released under a Creative Commons ATTRIBUTION license (

They believe in changing the world, one Tune at a Time.

Sex trafficking is a worldwide problem. The three of us — I-Ling, Adrian and Ivan — know that merely contributing songs to a cause won’t make the problem go away. Coming from middle-class backgrounds, we are also pretty much insulated from the issue. We may have read about it but we (thankfully) don’t have first-hand knowledge of it. That said, I think we’re doing what we can do for now. And that’s why we’re taking part.

SoundOut - band bio

“Stolen Dreams” – 290,000 plays and counting!

Our album co-contributor, I-Ling, alerted me to the number of listens for our songs, on the Sound Out page. And I tweeted it (though it should be number of ‘plays’ not downloads).

Adrian didn’t believe that the song had over 200,000 plays.

As of 5 Aug, around 7pm, it’s:

  • 290,304 plays


"Stolen Dreams" - Sound Out Singapore

Maybe it’s the first track that got played. Maybe not. Whatever the reason, that’s a heck of a lot of listens for us. 🙂

Here’s “Stolen Dreams” (a rock instrumental track)

The lead guitar work is by Adrian. When he sent me the raw stems, he explained:

Gave it a shot with the leads for stolen dreams.. the leads tell the story..
There is that oriental twist and a tune to begin with that is repeated.
Then there is a melodious and uplifting part
Then there is the very convoluted part… I tried to put the frustration and agony of some lost hope… I imagine it was a teenage girl in despair

Adrian’s lead guitar stems can be downloaded from ccMixter.

I’ve also uploaded the backing track and made it available at this ccMixter page.


~ Ivan

Music album: 2010 Sound Out Singapore

Creative Commons License2010 Sound Out Singapore by Starfish Stories : The Band is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore License. As long as you ATTRIBUTE the music by stating this: “Starfish Stories :: The Band –”* in your audio, video, website, printed materials etc., you are FREE to USE, COPY, SHARE, MODIFY, or SELL (yes sell!) any of the songs from this album.

In case we weren’t quite clear on the above, try this!

For Track 01 “Open the Door (Smile Again)”, please credit as:

This is the 4th self-produced Creative Commons music album from two Singaporean guys who have non-musical day jobs, but with a passion for producing their own brand of music. Recorded, mixed and engineered exclusively with GarageBand (and everything else done via email).

Album cover - Sound Out Singapore 2010



1. OPEN THE DOOR (SMILE AGAIN) – featuring I-Ling on vocals

2. STOLEN DREAMS (Instrumental)

3. PETALS IN A CRYSTAL STREAM (instrumental)

4. SMILE AGAIN II (rock instrumental)

5. DRIFTING RUST (instrumental)

We welcome comments on how to improve our music. Feel free to share what you liked or disliked at the band blog or email us at

The story behind the album at this blog post.

There are other contributors to Sound Out at Do give them a listen. Or submit your own songs!
Support our anti-trafficking music | Sound Out Singapore

Starfish Stories :: The Band is a Singaporean duo – Adrian Loo & Ivan Chew. They are self-taught musicians who prefer to produce their music this way. Feel free to contact them at their band blog or email


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