The Analog Girl’s Sweet, Elegant “Golden Sugar Crystals”

The Analog Girl returns after a five year silence with her most elegant set of songs yet. Titled “Golden Sugar Crystals,” the album features ethereal textures, sultry vocalizations, and tripped out beats, all coming together in a futuristic unity built upon synthetic foundations. There’s a unique brand of magic at work here, as The Analog Girl, aka Singapore’s Mei Wong, coaxes sonic bliss out of her Ableton-equipped Apple laptop and her microphone, using the studio as an instrument.

The one-woman band behind all this accomplishes an ethereal, moody mystique employing minimalist beats, dreamy analog melodic structures, and delicate, half-whispered vocals that leave room for the listeners’ interpretations. Elements of trance, ambient, 8-bit, lo-fi, and techno pop mingle in a sweet mix that sparks the listener’s imagination, prompting cinematic visions in the mind’s eye.

“I discovered that there is more to life than what’s harboring inside our minds. I was reminded that this universe is huge, and it gives us so much, and there is so much to be thankful for.” The Analog Girl

Building on the techno pop forms of her previous three albums, GSC adds more complex polyphony and richer, more sonorous textures without abandoning the charming style she is known for. The familiar minimalism that became her calling card is still there, as are the  mysterious vocal stylings and abstract lyric poetry, this time centered on themes of hope and discovery.

Mei explains: “For some of the more recent tracks on the album I turned to immersing myself in songwriting once again when I was living through some dark times, and in the process, I discovered that there is more to life than what’s harboring inside our minds. I was reminded that this universe is huge, and it gives us so much, and there is so much to be thankful for.”

While previous albums addressed love and friendship, gender politics, and the ever-important caffeine, GSC features songs portraying admiration for nature and appreciation of aesthetic experiences. The melancholy “Wonder,” and “Run,”  and the haunting “Monolith” flirt with disillusionment, but these songs are the exceptions. As demonstrated in a majority of its tracks, GSC is The Analog Girl’s most hopeful album, reflecting a move from despair to optimism. A big part of this journey is letting go of fear.

From “Mountains”
“As the sun begins to shine upon the earth you’ll start to know
The world beyond you
We can fly across the universe and wave our fears goodbye
If you know how to.”

The album is imbued with this sense of possibility. As The Analog Girl, Mei has traveled the world performing, and now has more than a decade behind her releasing music, and before that as a producer at MTV Asia. She’s been places. Perhaps that’s reason enough to pay attention when she shares her philosophy of appreciating the cyclical nature of change, of moving through heartache with no regrets and changing one’s perspective to change one’s life. She describes the following lyrics as “accepting life for what it is, and for whatever it may present.”

From “A Circle”
“And it’s moving out in pieces
As it goes through all the phases
Past and present in the future
Does it feel like it’s a circle?
No time for regrets
It’s starting to feel a part of me.”

Mei’s use of surreal lyrics and vocals that are nearly a whisper are captivating features of The Analog Girl’s music. Combined with the layered instrumental harmonies of her songs, the result is a mesmerizing,  hypnotic effect. “I think it’s because I am always writing from an organic place,” she writes, “trying to do as much with my voice as with the instrumentation. And I just like singing in repetitive phrases which creates that sense of hypnotism.”

The chant-like repetition interplays with the layered textures of the music and pulsing rhythms, portraying a musical union of the primal and technological. Questions are raised about the role of technology in society, and the union of woman and machine, as Mei’s seemingly vulnerable stage persona is contradicted by her expert control of the studio and its electronic devices. The answer: there’s a strong personality in command at the center of the elegantly harmonious structure of The Analog Girl brand.

“Happiness Is Precious”
Before The Analog Girl, there was Mei Wong. Before that there was Pamela Wong, music student, who as a child was inspired by her parents’ ’70s vinyl collection and the TV show Solid Gold, along with artists as diverse as ABBA, the Bee Gees, the Beatles and Olivia Newton-John. A piano student at 5, Pamela became fascinated by the possibilities of electronic music technology, experimenting with a Casio sampling keyboard and a portable synthesizer that allowed her to construct complete songs. At the age of 7, Pamela created her first “single,” a one-off cassette featuring the tune “Happiness Is Precious.” It even had a B-side; her dad contributed the artwork. As she grew, the charms of music continued to compel her. After graduating from university with a degree in business, Pamela landed a job as producer at MTV Asia.

By the early 2000s, inspired by the computer revolution and what it meant for electronic musicians, she embarked on her career as singer/songwriter, releasing her first album in 2005. Since then The Analog Girl brought her act to New York, Tokyo, and Paris, to name a few. As demonstrated by the uplifting nature of GSC, The Analog Girl hasn’t let the world get her down. And she still knows a good party when she sees one. The album’s quirkiest offering is the anti-anthem, “Weekends” with its melodic and thematic strangeness and upbeat tempo.

From “Weekends”
“Come and stay until the weekend’s gone
Stay until you are born
Come and stay until the weekend’s gone
Stay until you belong.”

After a couple choruses the tune derives into an electro-psychedelic dance tune that may be one of the most deliberate attempts ever to explode the dance music form. Fans of The Analog Girl’s quirkier numbers like “Caffeine” and “Hey Mr. G” will love it. Fun as it is, the tune is an outlier on an album packed with lush beauty and life lessons.

GSC features lovely textures and richer atmospherics than any of The Analog Girl’s previous three offerings, as the sense of hope that bubbles up from the mysterious sonic poetry works its entrancing, inspiring spell. It’s no surprise really, that this innovative techno pop artist should return to songwriting as a way to get through less than ideal times, and emerge from the darkness with a message of hope – hope for a sweet, golden future.

“Golden Sugar Crystals” is available now at iTunes, Amazon Music, Bandcamp, and Spotify.

The Analog Girl At Bandcamp.com
http://www.analog-girl.net/

finis

Gilles Snowcat’s Fun, Bewitching Mardi Gras Spell

Gilles Snowcat’s  involvement in voodoo is more than a passing interest — it’s a powerful obsession. His new single “Mardi Gras Station,” released to celebrate Mardi Gras Day (Feb 28th) features “Love Spells,”  a 10-minute funk rock groove that finds the tormented Snowcat waxing poetic about witches, voodoo dolls, and rock and roll.

This obsession is no coincidence. Gilles was born on Mardi Gras Day, several decades ago (exact details are hard to come by), a fact that explains his magical musical mojo, which can be seen as both a blessing and a curse.

He explains: “The day of birth influences one’s whole life, let alone a special day like that one. My music would have been different if I had been born another day, or might simply never have existed. Who knows?”

Snowcat tries to pass off his voodoo fixation as merely “fun,” but he’s clearly really into it.  “It’s a fun branch of psychology,” he says. “It’s to psychology like what Chinese medicine is to the pharmaceutical industry.”

Yeah, right. To wit:

“I was born on Mardi Gras Day,
Yes, I was born on Mardi Gras Day,
Nine witches brought me wine
Amazing charms and luck
Gris-gris, love and evil spells.
Loa loa loa loa loa…..”

The x-rated track features powerful live drums by Sebastien Bournier (of Sousbock), who also contributes acoustic guitar, ukulele and background vocals. Gilles’ “Continental Breakfast” co-writer Renato Ronchetti (from Cinnamon Lilly)  also contributes background vocals. It’s a quirky, funky rock track that finds Gilles calling on voodoo spirits (“Loa loa loa loa loa”) over an energetic groove that features his expert keyboard work. In a perfect world, every holiday would have its own theme song — and a less explicit version of”Love Spells” would be a good choice for Mardi Gras.

“It’s impossible not to be influenced by the Stones, since they’re the ones who mixed the looseness of dirty rock and the trickiness of funk.” Gilles Snowcat

One finds a strong resemblance here to the music of the Rolling Stones. Gilles explains: “It’s impossible not to be influenced by the Stones, since they’re the ones who mixed the looseness of dirty rock and the trickiness of funk. But more than the Stones, it’s the New Barbarians, who did the trick the best. It was an impromptu band with members of the Stones, the New Orleans funk masters The Meters, The Faces, and Stanley Clarke.”

The b-side of “Mardi Gras Station” is an odd instrumental that features synths, electronic and live drums, and an entrancing, funky vibe. The whole affair is a glimpse into a fascinating world of forbidden love and strange magic. Yet the cost of admission is just a couple bucks. Get these tunes at: Gilles Snowcat’s Mardi Gras Station.

www.gilles-snowcat.com
www.gillessnowcat.com