The 2014 Music List

Not much music of interest that came out the earlier half of 2014 has maintained a position on my list (except for my top pick), but, once I sat down with the goal of knowing what I may have been missing out on, which I did around the last quarter, I discovered remarkable stuff I am sure will stay in memory for a significant amount of time. As expected, the list is dominated by Japanese acts.

5. Suiyobi no Campanella – Watashi wo Onigashima ni Tsurete tte


FEATURED VIDEO: Suiyobi no Campanella – インカ

At most times, the accompanying dance music of Suiyobi no Campanella will be sweeping, wide-scaped, contemplative, much like what we’ve heard of from acts like Lamb, but then a voice comes in that raps, does spoken word, and the same voice would attempt to sing, the sort of singing that needs some getting used to. The tone reeks of the tongue-in-cheek, the carefree, and once you’ve seen the music videos (here, here, here), the live performances, you’d witness the frontwoman, KOUMAI, just goof off, with the music tethering her before she gets off-rail. Suiyobi no Campanella came out with their fifth album late 2014, and having also had the chance to listen to their earlier material, it is apparent that if taken separately, the elements that comprise the signature sound of the group would be imperfect, indistinct from what influenced it, but taken as a whole, it just becomes mesmerizing. Easily, the most hypnotic artist/record I listened to last year.

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Jeju Island, South Korea: Day 4

Manjanggul Cave (만장굴)

Today’s tour was for the East Course, which had two UNESCO World Heritage sites on its list (Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and Manjang Cave; Jeju women divers were also recently put into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List), which I would safely assume were the main reasons the only seats available on the bus were at the back. I had already checked out from the guesthouse before I left.

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Jeju Island, South Korea: Day 3

Birthday self-portrait, 2014

My birthday breakfast was the leftover soy fried chicken from last night. Getting older at my current state in life just feels better in a different place, or I could put it this way: this escape from reality just feels apt. The unfamiliar sensations one gets with travelling just trigger different stimuli.

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Jeju Island, South Korea: Day 1-2

Jeju Island, South Korea

There were birthday travel plans already for Nanjing, when an officemate mentioned that she’d be heading out to Jeju Island in South Korea for a weekend. You know that eye-frown you make when you wouldn’t think that was a real swell idea to go for? I had that, until she told me her budget, and the following facts: plane fare was relatively cheap coming from Shanghai, and a Philippine passport wouldn’t need a visa stamp to visit the island. Then that eye-frown quickly went bug-eyed, and the sense of a good opportunity welled up in my brain. This annual December undertaking of mine won’t be done back home or in China anymore, and the only thing I know about the specific area was fed to me by a movie, which I happen to really like.

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The Guilin/Yangshuo Weekend: Part 2

Xingping Ancient Town
Xingping Ancient Town

I found myself sleeping well at a bottom of a double deck bed at the hostel staff’s room in Yangshuo. We hurried the accommodations the day before, so we had to settle for that. I was now with Raymond, Ariel, a young Chinese couple, and another enthusiastic lady companion who appeared to spearhead the trip. Forgive me for not being so keen to remember names, and if that shaves a good load of my genuine gratefulness towards our little tour group, so be it.

The day started with a Li River tour cruise, where I didn’t get what I wished for: a front row seat on the raft I was in. I got to be with a group from the Guilin hostel where I knew no one, and half way down, the lady tour guide asked me to move rafts, not knowing the reason why I had to, but there wasn’t really any real interest to know. On that other raft I was still occupying a second row seat, but I was beside the tour guide, so yeah, I now had an advantage over the others, though an unexpected one. I asked how the cruise would be during the winter time (only few tourists take it), and she pointed at what the locals would refer to as horse’s heads on the mountain faces. I can’t decide if she was pretty. I’ll settle for amiable.

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