Tuesday, December 15, 2009

En-X is Brighter than the Sun

Ok I kinda promise to tell Alvin, the lead singer of a local band En-X who also happens to be my ex-student many years ago, what I thought of his band's debut album... here it is:
When I first got the physical album, my first reaction is "Wow great cover!" I love the minimalist approach... how clever and sleek it looks. I like in the inlay too - simple but it works aesthetically. That kinda makes me want to listen to the CD! Haha... I like this old school feeling of having a CD in your hand, looking at the design and flipping through the booklet. Digital downloads can never replicate this feeling.

Anyway back to the album, which is called Brighter than the Sun. I must say I really like the music arrangement of almost all the songs. It sounded a lot more versatile than other local bands, which has an overwhelming 'band sound' with lots of, sometimes excessive electric guitar. Not that it's bad but variety is good. I love many of the intro to the songs which makes me want to listen to the rest of the song, particularly Choices which is one of my favorite, if not my favorite track. Production wise, all the songs sounded very polished and finished. I guess having them mastered in New York does make all the difference.

Generally I don't really have a taste-bud for rock music, particularly the more heavy ones but occasional pop/rock music is good. And I find myself liking several tracks from this album, which is pretty pop/rock and radio friendly. Besides Choices, I've given Never Be The Same, Love (Everything will be Alright), the title track - Brighter than the Sun and Breathe several more 'spins' or playcount than the rest. They have good melody or arrangements which gave me a deeper impression.

Besides the arrangement, Alvin's voice also stands out from the rest of the local band crowd, at least to me. He mentioned about some singing technique which he paid quite a bit for the vocal class... can't remember what it is though. I must say it took me a little while to get used to it, mainly because I know him and his singing voice differs greatly from his talking voice, which is not uncommon actually. I like his kinda airy/breathy singing style (I hope I got the terms right) but I do think he needs to work a little more on getting the words out a little more clearly. On some of the verses/songs, I couldn't make out what he is singing about... which brings us to the lyrics!

To be frank, like many listener (I think), I really didn't pay much attention to the lyrics. OR it's not strong enough to stick to my head. I made an effort to read through some of the songs and I do think it tends to be a little too fragmented and kinda fancy with a lot of imagery or visual descriptions. A little too romantic for me i guess? Haha... Anyway I understand it's not easy to come up with good lyrics and it's really first time good effort so keep it up! =)

I'm really glad I have the time to finish listening to this album. These days it's really a challenge for me to listen to one whole album. Sometimes, I would listen to an album just once and those songs which don't get my attention wouldn't have a chance of getting heard more than halfway and will not make it for a second spin. So I'm glad this album has enough good elements to keep me interested and sit through it. And I'm not saying this because I know one of the band members. Those who know me would know that I say what I mean. And I try to be constructive with my criticism.

Finally, I think we should support our local arts & music scene. But we should not support it just for the sake of supporting. It needs feedback and reality check, or else it will not grow or mature. And I sincerely think En-X deserves our support. You can listen to their album at their Facebook or MySpace account and be a fan/friend. You can also see Alvin's rendition of other pop songs on their YouTube account. If you want the album, you can contact them on Facebook or MySpace.

All the best Alvin, Benjamin and Vanessa! Hope to hear your songs on the radio soon, if it's not already being played!

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 - A Year of Change

2009 is a year of change for me.

Both at home and at work.

For better. For worse.

Nikie died. =(

Both my 'partners-in-crime' left the country. =(

Mum got sick. =(

I got a promotion... =)

...but I have to give up my teaching subject of 10 years. =(

Then there's my health... =/

Can't wait for 2009 to be over. =(

2010 will be better!!! =)

Monday, September 07, 2009


  1. I am seriously wondering if I should bother to blog again. Many I know have moved on with Facebook and Twitter. But i guess blog still have it's place... for now.
  2. Blogger's composing website is so screwed up! The layout is coming out wrong! I'm sending this entry by email... IT BETTER WORK!!!
  3. Been feeling kinda frustrated... for many reasons. Hope to get over them soon... one at a time.
  5. iPhone 3GS. Buy. Don't buy. Buy. Don't buy. BUY!!!!.... Don't buy. ARGHHHHHHHHHH HOOOOWWWWW!!!! Stupid Singtel.
  6. Sometimes I feel that I've made the wrong choice. Other times, I'm glad I did. Life is confusing.
  7. Boston has not been too exciting for me. Probably coz I was tired and alone. Gives me second thoughts about travelling on my own again. Regardless will upload some photos from Boston soon.
  8. Wanted to get something for my class on the last day of term 3. But was then preoccupied and didn't manage to do so. I felt bad initially but... I realised soon that I shouldn't.... then I feel sad instead... maybe it's just me.
  9. Note to self: Move on Mr Wang... move on...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making a resounding statement...

It's not everyday you get a chance to make a resounding statement to our president, the education minister and a bunch of important people...

"Valedictorian Speech – 23rd July 2009 by Loo Zihan

Chancellor, Nanyang Technological University, His Excellency President SR Nathan.

Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen. Excellencies, Pro-Chancellors, Chairman and Members, NTU Board of Trustees, NTU President Dr Su Guaning, Distinguished guests, Graduates and family members, Alumni and friends of the University, Ladies and Gentlemen, a very good morning to you.

My name is Loo Zihan and I am part of the very first graduating batch from the School of Art, Design and Media.

I say this opening line with much pride. Today, we are not only experiencing a personal rite of passage but also witnessing local history in the making. Thank you NTU, for having the foresight to set up a degree programme focusing on the Fine Arts.

The original draft of my speech was composed of words like “integrity” and “breaking new boundaries” but a recent incident put a reality check on what I have to say.

Last Friday, I received a note informing me that the poster for my thesis film was deemed “inappropriate” to be displayed during this convocation ceremony. My first thought was to make the changes to the poster as required – but subsequently, as I was practicing for this speech, I realized that I could not say the words I drafted originally with conviction and authority by subjecting my work to censorship which I did not understand. I felt a sense of responsibility to my fellow graduates, who have voted me in as Valedictorian to speak up on their behalf.

After all, the poster in question was on display for more than 2 weeks with the public and other VIPs in attendance at our School of Art, Design and Media’s opening ceremony where it drew no criticism.

I admit, in the past, some of my projects have been deliberately provocative, however, I believe strongly that this image was not such an example.

Rather than subject the poster to changes, I decided to withdraw it from the exhibition.

As we move on into the “real world”, we will face challenges to the way we choose to express ourselves and our ideas. Some of these challenges may be reasonable, while others are not.

We will have to face these challenges objectively rather than emotionally, stay true to our convictions, seek compromise when necessary or appropriate, but be brave enough to stand firm when it is not.

As artists, we should not only strive to produce great art – but also bear responsibility for the art we produce. Otherwise, we betray ourselves, and our audiences.

I charge you all to take on this responsibility with pride, fortitude and courage. Together, I hope we continue to dedicate ourselves to being the vanguard.

For every pioneer that ventures forth, there are people who have supported him thus far to make his journey possible.

They put up with our late night project submissions, chauffer us around to meet deadlines. They are our last bastion of hope we can rely on, for anything, from prop-making to sending that thumb drive down to school to starring in our tutorial projects.

To our family members, for your unbridled confidence in us, I would like to say thank you.

Life ahead may not be a bed of roses, but it is for moments like today that you can truly be proud of us. When you know you have created something special, and that we will be making a difference in this society.

I would like to invite the graduating class of 2009 to stand and join me in giving a round of applause to our relatives.

A final word to my fellow graduates – Let our graduation not be the end but be a new beginning. I urge you to carry on and fulfill the role of the artist in society, to think, to question, and to challenge.

Thank you."

Great job Loo Zihan!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another one....

After Sean Kingston,
Esmee Denters,
MariƩ Digby and
Charice Pempengco,
here's yet another kid who got discovered online and signed by a record label... 15 years old Justin Bieber.

Despite his kiddish voice, I must admit the song's quite well written. I can imagine how much better the song would sound if sung by Usher or Chris Brown... In fact he was signed by Usher...

I hope a certain Mr Tan gets the hint and do it soon... =p

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The world was shocked by the passing of Michael Jackson who was planning a final world tour to get himself out of debt...

Guess how the world deals with the loss of a music icon...

[from iTunes Music Store 27 June 2009]

How sad is it that we only remember his music after he has left us...

Monday, June 22, 2009

He's gone...

Nikie passed on last Wednesday night. He has been with us for 15 years.

Eventhough we all see it coming, it was tough. And I didn't even get to say my last goodbye before he was put out of suffering. I was in Melbourne. I feel bad. Really bad.

Today I fly back back home from Melbourne, knowing that Nikie will not be home to greet us anymore... needs some getting used to.

Miss him.

So much.