Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Perhentian Islands

Since our flight out of Indonesia (provided by the dubious, but dirt-cheap Sriwijaya Air) was canceled, we had the opportunity to change our travel plans up a bit.  We flew back to KL and, feeling weary and whimsical, decided our next destination by which plane was leaving next.  We hopped on a flight to Kota Bharu (a small city on the north-eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia), which is a jump off point to the fabled Perhentian Islands.  Throughout our time in Sumatra, many a traveler spoke of the white sand beaches and pristine reefs of Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar... they unfortunately didn't tell us about the hordes of holiday-makers.

After a short night in Kota Bharu (where we stayed at the utilitarian and welcoming KB Guesthouse), we shared a taxi for the hour drive to Kuala Besut.  We then jumped on the fast ferry over to the Perhentians, and boy was it fast!

We arrived at Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil (the small island), based on the recommendation of many, but immediatly felt like we had been duped.  A massive government jetty (apparently a new addition) had been built in the middle of the bay, blocking the sunset view with its great concrete appendages.  The water in the bay was dotted with boats and had an unhealthy sheen and the crowded beach was lined with guesthouses from one end to the next.  Just fifteen years before this bay was nearly untouched, but unmitigated development has changed that.   We joined another dismayed traveler (Susan Sydney) that we met on the ride over and took off in search of that ideal beachfront we're all chasing after. 

While we had all been told that Perhentian Kecil was the place to be, we had a lead on cheap accommodations on the usually more upmarket and resorty Perhentian Besar (the Big Island).  After an overpriced water taxi from an incredibly surly boatman (unfortunately the norm around these parts), we found our spot on Teluk Dalam Beach.  While packed with locals on the weekend, the whole beach was practically empty during the week, making it a veritable paradise for us.

While Malaysia generally has some for the best food I've ever had, we were pretty underwhelmed in the Perhentians. I guess not everything can be perfect in paradise!  We did however enjoy all the fresh fruit juice, coffee, and milky tea (teh tarik).

Our days were relaxing, lots of dips in the sea and sunbathing, a few jungle hikes to desolate and pristine beaches (a must if you come to the island!), and lots of snorkeling.  We also spent a day on a snorkeling trip to nearby Redang Island... but we'll save that for another post.

Thanks to Susan Sydney, our travel companion for a few days for the cool nighttime pictures of us.

Where to stay:  We recommend Samudra Beach Chalets wholeheartedly.  We got a private bungalow just a few meters from the sea for 50 ringgit, an absolute steal for the Perhentians in this day and age.  The food was good and the staff was laidback, helpful, and friendly (another rarity on the islands).  The free Wifi was also greatly appreciated!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween 2012 in Saigon: 6789 + TimeKeeper @ Yoko

"WHO WANTS CANDY" – Halloween 2012 @ Yoko Bar.

9 pm
October 31, 2012

6789 (Funk/Reggae/Rock)
Time Keeper (Electronic Post-Rock)

Let's get epic! Local funk-rock legends 6789 make their triumphant return to the stage after an extended hiatus. With support this time around from Time Keeper,
Saigon's only proper post-rock project, providing a soaring, cinematic score for this swollen city.  

Another night organized by the Institute of Lower Learning (iLL)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Come to Daddy 4: Noise Show in Saigon!

“Hold onto your innards my good men… things are about to get loud.” – Mephistopheles

 Covering the sonic spectrum from avant-groove soundbliss to teeth-rattling aural assault, Come to Daddy 4 brings the synesthetic noise to Saigon this month with Black Zenith, Nguyen Hong Giang, and Thierry Bernard-Gotteland. 

This is Analog vs. Digital Noise, a transcendental conflict for the ages.  Howl into the pitch-black abyss and wait for the response…it could be a muted whisper. 

Black Zenith is the audio output of two renegade jazz musicians chipping away at the dark edifices that line the frontiers of the media landscape.  Expect forays into noise music and electroacoustic musical traditions that dive deep into the frothing foundations of abstract video art. Armed with a suitcase full of analog modular synthesizers, Darren Moore and Brian O’Reilly unleash terrifyingly dense textures that generate live visuals through the transformation of audio signals into images. 

Thierry Bernard-Gotteland performs as Atavism, his audiovisual performance alter-ego. Inspired by the likes of SND and Alva Noto, Atavism's generative and minimal sonic layers and vector-based digital visuals are more about creating syn-aesthetic patterns and sequences of sound and image than traditional musical structures.

Known for his noise project Writher and his recent post-rock collaboration Timekeeper, Nguyen Hong Giang is an unassuming ground breaker. One of the most consistent experimental musicians in Saigon, few would guess he's a classically-trained musician. Straddling the delicate line between structure and improvisation, neo-romantic overtones sail over industrial roars and electronic shrieks, constructing an ear-splitting cinematic soundtrack for contemporary life in our swollen, sordid city.

Do not file under “easy listening” - this batch of artists will challenge your deepest, most cherished beliefs about the true nature of music and why we listen to it in the first place.
Revel in the noise, get lost in the space between the sounds, and take a challenging, visceral journey to the core of music – the tireless communicative capacity and the innate emotional resonance that draws us all in for more.

When: 8pm - October 28th, 2012
Where: RFC - 25C Tu Xuong, Dist 3, HCM
Free Entrance


Come to Daddy 4 tháng này sẽ đem đến âm thanh, tiếng ồn… trải từ âm sắc êm dịu đến những tiếng ồn lạnh gáy của Black Zenith, Nguyễn Hồng Giang và Thierry Bernard-Gotteland.

Đây là cuộc chiến Analog vs. Digital, một cuộc xung đột siêu việt mà âm thầm như tiếng hú rơi vào vực sâu đen thẳm của những lời thì thầm không âm sắc.

Black Zenith với hai nghệ sĩ nhạc jazz nổi loạn ngay tại những đền đài u tối của ranh giới âm nhạc và thị giác. Bạn hãy chờ đợi sự đột phá của noise music và electroacoustic kết hợp với nghệ thuật video trừu tượng. Sử dụng analog modular synthesizers, Darren Moore và Brian O’Reilly sẽ giải phóng những chất liệu dày đặc đáng kinh ngạc để đem lại hình ảnh sống động bằng cách biến tín hiệu âm thanh thành hình ảnh.

Bạn có thể hình dung được màn trình diễn của Thierry Bernard-Gotteland nếu bạn đã biết đến Atavism của SND. Lấy cảm hứng từ SND và Alva Noto, thay vì sử dụng cấu trúc âm nhạc truyền thống, Atavism sử dụng nhiều tầng lớp âm thanh tối giản và phái sinh cùng với hiệu ứng hình ảnh kỹ thuật số dạng vector để tạo ra chuỗi và dạng âm thanh và hình ảnh.

Được biết đến qua dự án âm thanh Writher và mới đây là dự án post-rock Timekeeper, Nguyễn Hồng Giang là nghệ sĩ đột phá thực thụ. Anh được biết đến như một nhạc sĩ thể nghiệm bền bỉ nhất ở Sài Gòn, nhưng ít ai ngờ anh cũng là một nhạc sĩ cổ điển được đào tạo. Thể nghiệm tinh tế giữa cấu trúc và ngẫu hứng (improvisation), giữa tân lãng mạn và electronic/industrial sẽ biến thành tiếng thét xé tai mang tính điện ảnh về cuộc sống đương đại trong thành phố chật chội bẩn thỉu này.

Không được liệt vào danh sách nhạc dễ nghe, các nghệ sĩ trong chương trình lần này sẽ thách thức niềm tin sâu sắc của bạn về bản chất thực sự của âm nhạc mà trước hết là vì sao chúng ta lại nghe nhạc. Hãy đắm mình trong tiếng ồn, lạc lối trong không gian giữa những tầng âm thanh và cùng hành trình về cốt lõi của âm nhạc-khả năng chuyển tải không mệt mỏi và sự cộng hưởng xúc cảm của nó-để tất cả chúng ta đến đây, để cảm nhận nhiều hơn.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This Weekend: District 2 is Not Completely Underwater (Yet) and Why Will Whitehouse is the Best Painter You Haven't Heard Of (Yet)

Lunch at our favorite Thai spot @ 28 Nguyen Huu Cau.

There are wolves in the throne room...

Order a sinh tố (fruit smoothie) from next door when you've finished your feed.  I went for a Dưa Gang Sinh Tố (Winter Melon), the mild flavored melon is rich and sumptuous and the mounds of sugar added give it a crystalline kick. 

After lunch, our posse made our way out to District 2 to VinSpace Gallery to see our talented friend Will Whitehouse's latest works.  He had three paintings on display in the gallery, a culmination of about a years' work.

His oversized collages are made from notebooks upon notebooks of anatomy drawings he has completed over the last few years.  He hand-dyed each sketch, then ripped or cut it to the proper size, and assembled these awe-inspiring collages.  The first is a self portrait of the artist with an eye condition:

A close-up of the paintings reveals a world unto itself: a myriad of anatomical sketches and detailed notes.

We loved this smaller black and white one.  The drawings are so detailed.

Does this guy look familiar?  This collage is based off an Instagram photo of Gavin taken just minutes after after he broke his nose in an epic flop earlier this year. 

After extolling the virtues and talents of Mr. Whitehouse, we made our way to The Deck.  A perfect setting to watch the sun recede and enjoy a few happy-hour cocktails with friends... we caught the yuppy flu and it felt good.

We must of ordered about half of their extensive cocktail menu by the time the five of us were done.

Mmmmm... Green-lipped mussels raised in Nha Trang and consumed in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pretty soon it was time to head back into town.  Team Russia was throwing a party at DeciBel, so we stopped by for a while, then headed to Geisha for a performance by The Freckled Gypsys. 

This duo makes a lot of lovely noise!