Music video: “There’s Us”

Came across this MV by chance, while browsing through Youtube.

Gave me the goosebumpy “I can save the world” feeling when I first heard it.

Still does.

Had to look up “The Runaways“.

~ 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.

Jung Mina and Seo Young-Do


These two South Korean musicians, Jung Mina and Seo Young-Do, are just… super.

Discovered them via RECANDPLAY.NET.

BTW, the site has pages after pages of super cool and talented South Korean musicians, who play “live” and are recorded in one take.

The unsung talents, in my opinion, are the video and audio recording crew (possibly the audio post-production person).

The “live” sound is fantastic. The videography is deceptively simple but tons of talent behind those seemingly adhoc reality-TV shots.

Check out the site – It’ll be worth it.

~ Ivan

Coming soon – another Starfish Stories Creative Commons music project: SoundOutSG

A friend of mine, Kestrel, asked if I would like to contribute a song, or two, for a public cause: Sound Out Against Sex Trafficking –
Sound Out Against Sex Trafficking

It’s a meaningful campaign (supported by UNIFEM, Singapore).

And I think I should care:

As an integral part of human trafficking – the third largest crime in the world, sex trafficking of women and children is on the rise as a major problem in the world today. It’s time for us to take a stand on behalf of the millions of women and children who are at risk.

The requirement was that the songs “should either incorporate the bell as an audio element, or be along the lines of liberation and emancipation for women currently suffering from sex trafficking in Singapore.

I said yes.

Naturally, I roped in Adrian. I didn’t insist he take part, since I’m mindful that he’s busy with work and his kids. I also emailed another friend, I-Ling, if she’d like to be part of the project (she’s no stranger to Starfish Stories).

Both of them emailed me back with a positive reply. They also felt the cause was a meaningful one.

I received the invitation to contribute on Apr 18. The request was one song in three weeks’ time, or two tracks in six weeks.

Within three weeks, we’ve wrangled out five tracks.
Coming Soon - 2010 SoundOutSG album

It started with my sending them a rock instrumental track. I-Ling expanded on that and came up with original lyrics and recorded the vocals as well. Then I sent them another instrumental track, to which Adrian emailed me a set of his electric leads. We worked pretty fast, even though we didn’t push each other.

I-Ling and Adrian liked all the tracks so far. I certainly do. Especially the process of working with like-minded pals. I guess when you enjoy doing something, plus for a meaningful cause, good stuff happens. At least I think the songs are good stuff. I’ll leave it to whoever’s listening to make their own evaluation.

The tracks feature Asian instrumentation a lot, in line with the given theme.

Of course, the issue of sex trafficking is a worldwide problem. It’s not limited to Asia. And I’m sure I speak for I-Ling and Adrian in that we’re also realistic that contributing songs to a cause won’t make the problem go away. I’d even go as far as saying that we three, being more or less middle-class folks, are pretty much detached from the issue.

We 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.

Sound out.

~ Ivan

[p.s. If you wish to have a preview of the songs, feel free to email me/ us. As with all our music projects, we’ll release it under a Creative Commons ATTRIBUTION license].

Rosli Mansor – Deeper Than Purple album launch, The Arts House

[NOTE: Rosli Mansor does not know me, and I don’t really know him either. This is an unsolicited post].

3 Apr, 2010.


Full-house. Some people had to be seated on the bare floor.

Teens, Uncles and Aunties. Spotted a couple of children too. Good mix of Chinese and Malay audiences (I mentioned this to dispel stereotypes of the show being just a Mat-Rockers gathering).

People were dressed in informal and casual attire, seated patiently like they were waiting for a talk to start. This looked anything but a rock guitar performance.

It was like a family outing even. A PG-movie screening.

Azman’s solid thumpy bass lines, Keyjohan’s close quarter drums, Khai’s steady rhythm guitar work. Riding that musical wave was Rosli’s fretboard play on lead guitar.
Rosli Mansor - Deeper Than Purple

Why “Deeper Than Purple”?
Initially I thought it was a reference to the 70s-era band who gave the world “Smoke On Water”.

But no.

It seems Rosli’s a philosophical guy.

As he explained during the show, it has something to do with the colours of the walls in his home studio. And then Rosli started to speak of his late father.

He had to compose himself twice.

If Rosli didn’t sound quite as coherent as he could at that point, I’m sure the crowd forgave him. That was if any had even found fault with him in the first place.

His dad had passed on.

I saw the show as Rosli’s tribute to his friends, colleagues and loved ones. Through his music.

In introducing the song “Sorry I’m Late”, his advice to the largely young adult audience was tell their loved ones “sorry/ thank you/ whatever we feel we have to say to make peace”. Don’t be sorry like he was, in being late to say what he wanted to tell his father.

What struck me was Rosli said very little about himself.

Last night’s show could have easily been a session of single-musician showmanship. Of electric-fan blown and mindless fretboard shredding. Of self-indulgent messages of personal triumphs; chest-thumping self-righteous indignation against the oft-repeated lack of support of Singapore-based music.

But thankfully there was none of that.

Respect, Friendship, Humility, Open-mindedness
Rosli Mansor - Deeper Than PurpleInstead, Rosli chose the night to honor his friends, family, his late father. His volunteers, sponsors and supporters. He didn’t glamourise the musical journey he chose for himself.

What he did mention of himself, he was honest and self-depreciative even.

It was apt that he let his music speak for him. And it’s a nice side that I heard (the CD sounds even better).

I liked that his music show had interesting ideas (lucky-draw, audience participantion). I appreciated the philosophical musings from his in-between songs anecdotes.

“Don’t be late for whatever you wish to say, to whomever you know is necessary”.

Empty your mind of prejudices,or else it will be too full to take in anything new”.

In an age where young impressionable minds quest for their next musical idol, or seek affirmations from those who would give them any excuse to be anti-establishment, Rosli was a mix of the down-to-earth familiar and non-egotistical maturity.

Rosli seems to draw a discerning crowd of those who are connected by his musical ideas and expression.

Put in that context, it occurred to me Rosli would be a good role musician model.

Rosli Mansor - Deeper Than Purple

Congratulations on the launch of your 2nd album, Rosli.

~ Ivan

[update: Rosli Mansor’s thoughts: “Deeper Than Purple – Portrait of Fading Faces”]

Sydnei Carvalho e Alex Martinho: Synthesis

Adrian and I have been too busy at our day jobs to post any thing lately. In the meantime, I’ve been catching a few solid YouTube vids, as you can see from the earlier posts.

Here’s a new one I discovered recently. They call themselves Sydnei Carvalho e Alex Martinho. This is their track titled Synthesis:

Check out the harmonisation at the 1:18 mark:



~ Ivan

Kittie – the band

I’m sure whatever genre their music belongs to, there’s bound to be words like “Metal”, “Hard”, “Gothic”, “Rock”, “Raw”, “Anger”, “Death”, “Melodic”. I don’t listen to Trash/ Death Metal that much. But what Kittie sounds like is close to “Melodic Death Metal”.

Just check this this Single from their 2009 album:


As of this post, their YouTube Channel features three MVs (actually two to be exact, as one other MV is an alternative cut).

This is another one I like:


Dark. Somber.

But somehow I always detect this tinge of hope and powerful grace in their songs 🙂

More about them from their official site.

~ Ivan

Happy 7th Birthday, Creative Commons! aka song: “Don’t Want To Come Back Down”

[First posted at]

This track is my contribution to the Creative Commons 7th birthday (partly encouraged by @thornet).

You can download/ stream the track at this page.

Don’t Want To Come Back Down” by Ivan Chew. 2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0).

Click here for how to give credit and other conditions.

It’s a longish instrumental track that makes me think of soft white clouds, blue skies, cool lazy afternoons… then spilling into a sudden equatorial monsoon rain. Then all is groovy again. And I’m floating, floating up and up, not wanting to come back down.

I thought it fitting to contribute to CC7, with a track made possible by the CC movement, and posting on ccMixter. Thanks to this video that led me to jaspertine’s inspirational ambient track.

To all Creative Commoners: Happy 7th.

Don’t give up
Originally uploaded by disgustipado

~ Ivan

panu moon reviews “The Mangrove Tree”, and then some

In this earlier post, I mentioned mr. panu moon, an Atlanta-based songwriter and popular ccMixter contributor.

Recently I emailed him for permission to re-license his “K’laerge Lomi” guitar stem under a CC-BY license (having a similar license makes it easier in publishing the entire album), ‘cos I wanted to include Old Man and The Sea in our not-sure-when-to-be-released southeast Asian themed ‘The Mangrove Tree’ album.

Also sent him the link to The Mangrove Tree to give him a sense of what the album is about, and the context of how his guitar stem would be used.

He was generous enough to grant me permission. And I’m grateful that he took time to listen to the track AND write me the following (posted with permission):

i just listened to this piece twice. it’s very calming & very beautiful. it reminds me of acoustic alchemy’s first album, when they were playing because they loved it instead of trying to replicate themselves so they could sell records.

the fact that you live at the crossroads of so many ancient cultures & produce from that mindset is truly a blessing of tao. there is no way an american producer could get this kind of feel & performance from his artists.

lastly, i still maintain that the sound you got from the ‘lomi’ sample was pure singapore alchemy. and last, but not least, your tip to record in aiff. was the best tip anyone’s given me in years.

be proud & be yourself, my friend. panu

You know, I don’t use the word “friend” lightly.

In this case, thank you very, very much friend panu. Your review just gave hope to this fledgling musical identify that Adrian and myself are trying to create.

~ Ivan