Sunday, November 21, 2010

All Creation Sings. It's Your Fault They're Off-key.

Once in a while, thankfully, the smogasbord of auditory enjoyment becomes so overladen that one is hard put to deny the lush manifold beauty of God's universe:


Across the shopfloor of Best Denki, a familiar tune, menacing but chirpy, a call to harvest the energy of the sun against the determined grunting undead - Plants vs Zombies! Laura Shigihara's soundtrack is pop console chiptunes, funky melodics, big band swing, "macabre yet goofy" piano tinkling. The music video is but a poor sample of the enjoyability of the music:


A few hours later, in a K-BOX karaoke room, there was the insistent demonstration of the ease at which one could quickly pick up and sing any of the many predictable Mandarin ballads (assuming the ability to read Chinese).

But though formulaic (shy earnest boy + true love lost), not all eyes were dry after 古巨基 (Leo Ku)'s great mash-up of loads of love songs/brilliant way of prolonging the end of a de-stressing session, 情歌王*.

Robag Wruhme, Heineken Green Room Session, Old Kallang Theatre Superpitcher, Heineken Green Room Session, Old Kallang Theatre
And the next night at Heineken Green Room's's 8-bit Blitz, minimal techno in the microhouse of old Kallang Theatre called forth by the hirsute Robag Wruhme and the fancy Superpitcher - probably describable only in Kerouac-ian prose. Best listened to with friends nursing a couple of cold beers, or, erm, while doing work - the repetitive stripped-down beats really clear the mind and the sound-sample layering keeps it fresh! Sadly the crowd voted for fags and chats outside, instant noodles and ice-cream at 7-eleven and after-parties at Home (Club).

The end of the noughties is a bit late for theory-mongering, but in the midst of the current post-post-modern Mustafa-like music offerings, can even "pop" be defined (not to mention the ever-expanding sub-categories of techno, house and that all-encompassing term, "indie")? If all music is expression, to some extent of ideals, values, cultural identity, political mindsets, how, if at all, does the seeming lack of demand for minimal techno interpret Singapore society? All enjoyment of music must, at least in part, be mediated through conceptual assumptions of what constitutes good music. If interpreted on a scale of sophistication and progress (cf Adorno's "regression of listening"), then on what basis should we measure legitimacy in musical taste?

Pomerol 2004
Oignon Farci aux Noix de Saint-Jacques Grillées et son Velouté de Maïs, Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium Crème aux Cèpes et son Cigare de Foie Gras
Steak Frites Confit de Cuisses de Canard, Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium
Tarte au Citron, Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium Pastilla à la Pistache et Chocolat Noir, Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium
Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium
Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium Astroturf-ed Walls, Le Bistro, Singapore Indoor Stadium
French at Le Bistrot, Singapore Indoor Stadium


Chirashi Set Lunch, Kaiho Sushi Restaurant, Cuppage Plaza Uni sushi, Kaiho Sushi, Cuppage Plaza
Fugu Mirin Boshi (grilled puffer fish), Kaiho Sushi, Cuppage Plaza Japanese Chestnut Ice-cream, Kaiho Sushi, Cuppage Plaza
Japanese at Kaiho Sushi, Cuppage Plaza. The uni (sea urchin gonads), fugu mirin boshi (grilled puffer fish) and Japanese chestnut ice-cream are especially good.

Similarly, prandial diversity. It's been great to have been able to stand and watch the starched-linen sushi and French food era being swept away by the deluge of mass market gastronomy. But does the provision and appreciation of such global victualling necessarily assume a concurrent consumption of attendant culture and values? What is the significance of the popularity of raw fish with wasabi or tabouleh and olive oil bread? Is such consumption merely representative or also communicative? Again, are foods subject to hierarchy - eg. traditional and artisan vs mass-produced, and if so, on what basis?**

Thanksgiving in Singapore
Celebrating early Thanksgiving with turkey in Singapore

Faced with such delicious diversity of delights (sorry), one might extol the virtues of a Creator who is happy to bring forth such frivolities for our pleasure; after all, none of this beauty seems critical to our survival. Yet, doesn't music exist so that we can sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to teach and encourage each other with God's word, and to praise and worship God? If music is, in part, expression of ideals, values, identity and mindset, then it's not about the brand of CCM that forces "Christian" lyrics into popular tunes but that the natural outflow from a Christian is necessarily God-centred.

And God gave us good food not just to gather friends around: sweaty cooking and sharing repast should also be about practising hospitality (by cooking for other than one's pals) and making opportunities to speak words of eternal life. Whereas Jewish dietary restrictions were meant to emphasis the holiness/set-apart-ness of the Israelites wrt other nations, the food laws were set aside by Christ's death. God's buffet is now open to all. WWJD? Sup with sinners and tax collectors, most likely.

Stadium MRT Station Stadium MRT Station
Changi Airport MRT Station Changi Airport MRT Station
Lovely manmade lines at Stadium MRT and Changi Airport MRT

The overarching foundation (oxymoron?) of all this is that the whole of creation, its unparalleled intricacy and magnificence, exist so that we humans can clearly perceive God's eternal power and divine nature, and in so knowing him, honour him as God and give thanks to him (Romans 1:20). Yet, we stubborn fools persist in our ignorant theories that the world must have come about of its own accord, and insist that there is no Creator; we run around obsessed about saving the world from greenhouse gases and dolphins from being clubbed, refusing to see that this world came about by the word of one person and by his word this world will be swept away. We fancy ourselves rather advanced and sophisticated monkeys when we define right and wrong, not realising that all this is actually a sign of our impending destruction:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)
and
...first of all, ...scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:3-13)

*the list of songs, thanks to martin_tamb:
王力宏 Wang Lee Hom - Forever Love
黎明 Leon Lai - 兩個人的煙火
張學友 Jacky Cheung - 如果.愛
光良 Michael Wong - 童話
劉若英 Rene Liu - 很愛很愛你
古巨基 Leo Ku - 好想好想
周華健 Emil Chow - 明天我要嫁給你
潘瑋柏 Wilber Pan - 不得不愛 (feat 弦子)
莫文蔚 Karen Mok - 陰天
陶喆 David Tao - 飛機場的10:30
黃品源 - 那麼愛你為什麼 (feat 莫文蔚 Karen Mok)
黃品源 - 你怎麼捨得我難過
張震嶽 - 愛我別走
周華健 Emil Chow - 讓我歡喜讓我憂
張惠妹 A-Mei - 原來你什麼都不要
張宇 Phil Chang - 用心良苦
張學友 Jacky Cheung - 祝福
張學友 Jacky Cheung - 吻別
陳昇 Bobby Chen - 把悲傷留給自己
那英 Na Ying - 征服
張惠妹 A-Mei - 聽海
辛曉琪 Winnie Hsin - 味道
孫燕姿 Stefanie Sun - 我懷念的
辛曉琪 Winnie Hsin - 領悟
張宇 Phil Chang - 月亮惹的禍
飛兒樂團 F.I.R. - 我們的愛
黄大煒 David Huang - 你把我灌醉
范曉萱 Mavis Fan - 眼淚
庾澄慶 Harlem Yu - 情非得已
梁朝偉 Tony Leung - 你是如此難以忘記
任賢齊 Richie Ren - 心太軟

**none of this will make sense when current sleep-indebtedness has been redeemed and Words with Friends stops cameo-ing in dreams.

PS: Someone just sent over Sara Groves' You Are The Sun from her O Holy Night Tour: Live the Prison Show. Nice melody, wish the lyrics had more meat on.


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