Exploring the Soundscape


Last Friday night, the cosy yet atmospheric top floor of Singapore’s Blu Jaz Cafe played host to Soundscape, an event boasting an eclectic line-up of five homegrown bands – Pep Talk, The Sets Band, ANECHOIS, Amnesia Haze and Pleasantry. Music Services Asia sneakily pays an incognito visit to the gig to check out two of the bands taking part in our Reeperbahn Festival contest, Pleasantry and ANECHOIS, and also to enjoy what the rest of the bands had in store for us.

Pep Talk

The show opened with a set from Pep Talk, whose unique sound bears an unmistakable country influence. While initially bewildering for the uninitiated to hear such Western-tinged melodies coming from four Singaporeans, their disarmingly charming folk leanings eventually did well to warm up the crowd.

The Sets Band

Having gathered a substantial amount of buzz for themselves, which is well-deserved considering the high frequency of shows they’ve been playing in our little island, The Sets Band did not disappoint with their clever songwriting and stellar showmanship. In fact, the contrast between the two venues of the two shows they played in the past weekend (the second being the Fred Perry Sub-sonic Live showcase the day after) only highlighted their versatility and deftness in making heads nod and feet tap no matter the circumstance.

(Facebook / Bandcamp)

Diverging from the typical wordlessness of most post-rock acts, ANECHOIS’ songs were thoughtfully interspersed with vocal refrains that enhanced the emotional intensity of their music. Describing themselves as a “post-progressive rock band”, ANECHOIS unabashedly draws from a myriad of influences to construct their own sound, with moments in their set evoking Japanese acts such as toe and LITE, and even the ghost of Singapore’s very own B-Quartet. The sheer expressiveness shown by each band member as they got lost in their own music marked ANECHOIS as a compelling act to experience live.

Amnesia Haze

The tension that had built up throughout ANECHOIS’ set was soon dissolved as Amnesia Haze took the stage, which was a touch disconcerting but perhaps provided respite for the laid-back Friday night. While the etymology behind their band name may raise a few eyebrows, Amnesia Haze were self-assured cool cats grooving to their own tunes, led by vocalist Kenneth who vaguely channeled the mannerisms of the late great Elvis Presley.

(Facebook / Bandcamp)

Pleasantry breathes into life the very definition of “indie darlings”, no matter how contrived the phrase may be. Born out of the ashes of various musical outfits, Pleasantry now burns brightly with their catchy melodies and palpable onstage chemistry, sparking sing-alongs with crowd favourites such as Near and Dear and Swan Song. For those seeking to bring a slice of the magic home, poster prints with download codes of their recent EP release, Porcelain Lenses, were also on sale at the venue – a smart move that spells Pleasantry’s business-savvy and commitment in establishing their identity.

All in all, it is heartening to note that Soundscape was undeniable proof of the passion for creating, performing and sharing music that still burns amongst Singapore’s youth. In retrospect, the spirit of Soundscape was also a fond reminder of yesteryears, when small-scale gigs such as the WeekendTrip series at *Scape as well as those in the now-defunct Third Place and Gashaus served as the focal point of local music happenings. These gigs were instrumental in propelling the local scene and keeping it alive, as they welcomed emerging bands and also embraced new faces in the crowd. That said, kudos to the organizers of Soundscape for putting together such a warm, inviting affair and bringing us all-around good vibes befitting the start of the weekend. Til next time!