Someone said “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula” is worth buying

As part of our promotional strategy (aka shameless plugs), I once posted the release of Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula at the Open Mic section of

This was a particularly encouraging comment (dated 29 Jan 2010):

wow! heavenly and nice music there..the arrangement and sound is ..err ..really great! definitely an album worth buying..\m/

Album cover preview: "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebulae"

Buy our album? Really?


~ Ivan

urmymuse reviews “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”

Sometimes, the only way for us small-time amateur musicians to be heard is to be shameless in promoting our music 🙂

Since my online music acquaintance professed to like our earlier work, I sent along the link to our third album. This was what urmymuse so generously wrote (dated 1 Feb, 2010):

Album cover preview: "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebulae"

Speaking of Starfish Stories thank you very much for pointing me in the direction of your and Adrian’s new album “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula“. I have given it several listens and am very impressed.

The overall feel of the work is optimistic and joyful. The composition is imaginative, each track develops and flows beautifully. The Starfish Stories signature sound is a guitar driven odyssey of wonder. It is almost as though the listener passes through a series of spaces in each track to experience new marvels each time.

The guitar work and production are excellent through out.

Particular highlights for me are

The whole of the title track … I think you have made some good improvements since the earlier version you sent me. Particularly the additions to the intro.
The development of “we wonder” and the big string swell that comes in towards the final third.
The development of “new beginnings” .. very optimistic and uplifting
The slightly heavier feel of “stroke of midnight” (which builds to clock tower sounds which is fun)
The excellent “goodnight not goodbye” My Vanilla World’s vocal is beautiful and the production works very well

You and Adrian should be very proud of what you have achieved here. Am looking forward to your next album.

“Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula” can be downloaded at Voluntary donation is always welcome. A review (good or bad) in lieu of payment will also very much appreciated.

~ Ivan

I-Ling reviews “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”

Before I-Ling became part of our band, she was a listener — and dare I say, a fan? 🙂

Here’s her review of Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula, dated 10 Jan 2010:
Album cover preview: "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebulae"

As I was putting this post together, I also revisited the band’s first album SeaStars 2007 – the curious me is always listening for the changes in a musician or band’s sounds. Not sure if my ears are right, but I thought that the guys are showing more versatility than before.

My personal picks from their 2010 album are the title track Crystal Tears and The Dream Nebula 2010 and Stroke of Midnight v2.3.

Crystal Tears nicely captures the feel that the title suggests. The steady buildup at the beginning sets the perfect mood for this track. I could almost see the bursts of heavenly colours in my head and hear some distant stars fizzle out at various intervals. The highs and lows are nicely balanced, and I like the little touches that the band has put in, like the edgy noise at 1’12″ that balances the airy feel of the warm pad without going overboard. So it’s somewhat like watching meteoroids pass you by as you traverse the duo’s musical galaxy, without heading dangerously into an overcrowded meteoroid cluster.

There’s something mischievous about Stroke of Midnight that makes it fun to listen to. I almost laughed when I heard the first chime of the clock. I don’t know why but the picture that came to my mind was that of Cinderella on the run, on roller blades. That probably wasn’t what the guys had in mind, but that incongruous image aside, I enjoyed the drum work and the mean guitar playing in this fast-paced track.

This time round, the band has also very kindly included my croaks in Goodnight Not Goodbye v2.2, a song written by Ivan. Thank you, guys!

And for a hint of what’s to come in their next album, they have included the teaser track, Thank You. Interestingly, the Asian character in their New Age/Indie music is becoming increasingly pronounced.

Perhaps that’s what music-making is all about – developing your style, rediscovering yourself, and finally, defining your own brand of music.

See what happens when you write a positive review? We make you our band member. OK, not really lah! LOL

But yes, we are still discovering our musical styles.

~ Ivan

Elizabeth reviews “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”

It’s always a bit scary to read reviews. As much as I think we’re open to criticisms, there’s that self-conscious wince when people point out what they don’t like about the songs. But that’s the whole point of asking people to comment. So that we can become better at our craft.

Most times (if not all), people have been nice about saying the not-so-nice 🙂

Elizabeth was one of the first to listen to our third album. She left her review at the blog post, back in Jan 2010:

Album cover preview: "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebulae"

Dear Starfish Stories,

I’m impressed as always with your talent and creativity. I must say the efficiency which you have developed this album is rather amazing too.

Anyway, here are my point form comments on the album songs.

Stroke of midnight – slightly too aggressive-sounding for me, but great for angst-filled moments

New beginning – liked the starting but after that got too rushed. Prefer something simpler n not sounding too complex and rushed

We wonder – preferred this a bit more. But wished it started more simply, without the bass, just the keyboard. The tiao tiao sound was nice but not all the time.

To be free – I like the bass drum guitar, fast section but the transition to soft section was not smooth

Thank u podcast – Mangrove song – songs more Chinesey or kampong like, gd start. The Indian drums n instrument section was great! The transition was relatively good too. Except the last part where e piano played the tune again, could slow it down more

Run toward sky – like the spacey section when the electric guitar just ends n the synthesizer comes in. But the electric guitar coming in again was a bit too abrupt, fast n high pitched.

Finding love – sounds like a guitar solo; no strong melody making the song sound like a song

Crystal tears – the chorus is nice, or at least more memorable but the verses are not really nice. Too many instruments for the verses. Y no singing?

Goodnight not gdbye – this songs is very different from the others. First, someone sings. It has a bit of an unearthly feel, high airy voice. But nice overall.

In sum, this album was alright. Maybe technically it was better, but in terms of melodies and sounds, the previous albums were better.

Looking forward to the next album, Mangrove song.


Thanks, Elizabeth!

~ Ivan

“My Library World” reviews “Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula”

This was from a “teen librarian in the Pacific Northwest at a busy library system” (dated 3 Jan 2010), for third album:
Album cover preview: "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebulae"

A good internet friend of mine had an album release today over on his band blog. They are Starfish Stories: The Band and they release their music under a creative commons license, which allows you to use their music in, say, a YouTube video and all you have to do is attribute the music to them in the way they have asked.

I got a chance to preview the release and was quite impressed.  It isn’t going to be a top 40 success, but I don’t think it was meant to be that anyway.

This music has a lot of creative uses and is very well executed.  I especially liked “Goodnight Not Goodbye v2.2″, which I believe is the only one with lyrics.  You can download these songs by going to the blog link above–there is a place to donate if you like the music, but you should feel free to listen first.

Thanks, My Library World, for listening, and for the plug!

~ Ivan

urmymuse reviews “One World One Moment”

I’m going through my backlog of mails.

This review, for our second album, was from urmymuse dated Aug 2008. Posted with permission:

2009 One World One Moment

I have given Starfish Stories – One World One Moment album several listens (both on bandcamp and Congratulations to you and Adrian for what I think it is a highly accomplished piece of work, i enjoyed listening a lot.

The complex fret work on the guitar orientated tracks is always in a compositional context, not guitar heroism for its own sake.

The way the tracks move and develop is really strong, meaning they carry the listerners interest to the end. I think this is particulary evident on “one world” and on “surfing on solar winds” (i like how the melody flips into the bass line towards the middle).

It was nice to have an unexpected vocal track in “have i told you lately” which has got a really emotional feel and builds nicley with the strings at the end.

I am listening to “the hill” as i write.It gives me the feel of “marching up the hill” with pipes and drums , or may be looking out in awe from the top of the hill?

Thanks for this, urmymuse!

~ Ivan

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

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

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

Elizabeth Koh reviews One World One Moment

Got to know Elizabeth Koh recently, at a gathering of friends.

Learned from her Twitter account profile that she plays bass. So I DMed her asking if it was the orchestra bass or electric. She replied it was the latter, which she picked up while playing in her church band. Cool!

I tweeted her the link to the OWOM album.

She was nice enough to email me this review (posted with her permission):

oh my. wow. u put in so much effort in your music! Just listened to one world. Really like the melodies and the blend of electric guitar and synth. But must say that the sound is a bit too electronic, and there is no “end sound” to the electric guitar, (when it stops playing the particular note), so it becomes a bit too spacey and drifty for my taste. The bass sounds good too, but not accompanied by drums all the time, which is unusual.

Her opening words of “oh my. wow” was enough to make my day, LOL.

End sound? Hmm… gotta think about that. Adrian and I don’t have formal musical backgrounds. We just kinda create and mix the music intuitively. Musically, we’re still trying to find our unique sound. Every piece of review, comments, critique, criticism helps a lot.

Thanks Elizabeth!

~ Ivan