Art of Alfalfa (Think Online review on Above Us, A Clear Summer Sky)

text by Chris Chew
Some Wikipedia entries are more trustworthy than others. ‘Alfalfa’ would be one of them. While it’s fair to assume that there are people who find immense pleasure in scribbling textual graffiti over entries about George Bush, evolution and apple pie, alfalfa is hardly contentious enough to lure the vandal. It poses no threat to anyone’s worldview, and inserting some blatant untruth (e.g., “Alfalfa can cure herpes”) isn’t likely to threaten anyone beyond the occasional aspiring horticulturalist.

In an oddly apt sense, Muxu is like a Wikipedia entry for alfalfa. And it’s not just because Muxu, in Mandarin, means alfalfa. Consider the parallels between flora and fellow. Both are inoffensive. Both are seasonally transcendent, staying in bloom despite varying conditions. Both are quietly tenacious, bearing a turgid inner strength that defies the outward frailty. And both are fed to chunky cattle as temporary respite before the butcher’s knife smothers any hint of freedom from the farmland.

And yet alfalfa is hardly the only nature-themed metaphor that Muxu elicits. On the debut album Above Us, A Clear Summer Sky, this instrumental ambient electronica duo of Euseng and Liang (the latter also the guitarist for post-rock act Citizens of Ice-Cream) run the gamut of the forest’s dominant palettes. The gush of pads, strings and random twinkles channels images of cobalt blue rivers, muted orange afternoons and dusty brown otters and raccoons, all dwelling in seamless, symbiotic harmony. Pianos and acoustic guitars alternate melodic duties, and the fusion of elements results in an enchanting chronicle of one person’s voyage from dawn to dusk.

The unnamed protagonist in Above Us has a pretty stellar morning. ‘At Dawn’ paints its gorgeous sunrise with gentle maraca rattles and patiently sustained synth twinkles, upon which ivory strokes lift the heavy eyes. ‘Sunlight Through the Windowpane’ continues the morning sparkle with the subdued buoyancy of trots and whistles, and it is here that we get glimpses of Muxu’s knack for balancing minimalism. The duo aren’t penny-counting misers, and they aren’t afraid to insert the odd keyboard effect into the overall sparseness.

The afternoon picks up, as do the BPMs and associated textures. ‘Journey to the City’ is an exercise in escapism, providing momentary retreat from careening Wiras, while ‘Is That You’ revisits the honeymoon montages of those mid-1980s romance movies we swore never to talk about. At times, the incessant use of those same chord movements teeters into humdrum, but the irritation might be more attributed to the inability of citydwellers to cope with the placid repetitions of rural living.

And that, perhaps, is the album’s base song and dance: that these nature pangs being evoked are less a state of realisation and more one of yearning. The brutalised soul needs that disconcerting quiet, but lacks the experience to manage it. ‘Mockingbird with a Pie (An Evening)’ interjects the playground dalliance with what sounds like a vibrating mobile phone, followed by a good 30 seconds of silence and the subsequent resurgence of a melody line that exhales weariness. Responsibility has beckoned, and the merry-go-round must be forsaken.

In quick succession, the day tumbles into a grey-hued despondence. ‘Saw You in the Nightfog’ and ‘Rerun’ are the album’s only two minor-dominated tracks, and both end abruptly, dangling and unresolved—appropriate indicators of the nagging uncertainty of tomorrow that threatens to jeopardise a good night’s sleep. And yet, the day is not a lousy day—not while there are a few hours left. Album closer ‘Counting the Sheeps’ whispers its lullaby via a lone violin, transmitting loneliness on one level, and starry-night solitude on another.

In this sense then, Muxu is marginally less malleable than real alfalfa. Those who live in a perpetual state of Terebithia, for example, might consider Beneath Us a meaningless soundtrack, a perpetual whinge over some incongruent existence. But for folks undergoing like-minded repression, the music resonates like the bronze gong it isn’t. When life resembles the barren white space between parentheses, albums like this remove the binoculars and grant us broader perspective to a lifelong equation. Tomorrow might not be better, and might even get worse. But at least it will be equally fleeting as today.

think online


轻灵纯美之旅 Muxu - Show Us Your Weak Side

我们热爱小电,原因可以有很多,也许是因为它的自由无羁,也许是因为它的灵动活泼,也许是因为它对于声音层次的无限追求,但是无论从哪里入手,都不能跳开" 小"这一关键词汇。对于专业的电音知识我了解的非常有限,我所拥有的只是一对喜爱美妙声音的耳朵,和一颗时刻接收着音乐所传递的情感温度的心。而小电所给我的最直接的触动,莫过于那些从细节入手的精致和贴心,无论是精心裁减的旋律,还是轻柔安置的节拍,无论是或轻或重仔细勾芡的人声,还是如上好麦芽般轻轻发酵的氛围,统统都收纳着乐手对于周遭生活最独到的理解和诠释。所以,与其说我喜欢小电,还不如说我钟情于那种值得收藏的细腻感觉。





这里的muxu是来自于马来西亚的electro-acoustic双人组合,也是同样浪漫唯美而充满奇妙色彩的造梦者。连带着两个人的相识也一并梦幻了起来,citizens of ice-cream,Euseng和Jiang便是在这个有着如泡泡糖般可爱名字的乐队里最初聚首并于2006年独立出来共同组建muxu的。继上一张 "Above Us,A Clear Summer Sky"之后,两人继续与网络厂牌Monotonik合作,发行了新EP"Show Us Your Weak Side",这也是mtk的第190张发行物。虽然只有短短的六首作品包含其中,但其品质却是丝毫不用怀疑的:这是一张就像乐队名字一般让人充满幸福感的专辑,处处闪烁着朦胧而曼妙的聆听美感。

后来才想起来,muxu的名字也曾经出现在马来西亚在地厂牌nu-nest的合辑we are all cotton-hearted之中,所贡献的是disk 1 track 4的journey to the city,其中的简约细致的确是和这张EP共享着同一个音乐美梦的。

Hishiko, Let's walk on the frozen sea, Meeting snow during summer, People running away...每一首都有着让人怦然心动的纯粹质地,除开必不可少的小巧碎拍和剔透的合成器效果,电钢琴的频繁运用凸现出了冷色调旋律的优美,搭配着细小的噪音片断和环境采样,散发出沁人心脾的气息,像是随时可以入诗入画一般迷人。我想,任何对于自然和生活保存着美好寄托和纯真想象的人们,都不应该错过这样一张专辑,错过邂逅唯美的任何可能。


show us your weak side EP released

(taken from monotonik):
“This new release is most definitely Monotonik’s first from Malaysia, thanks to duo Euseng and Liang, also known as Muxu, who’ve followed up their self-released debut album ‘Above Us, A Clear Summer Sky’ with this wonderful 6-track EP, ‘Show Us Your Weak Side’, here as the 190th release on Mono.

The duo first met for a joint band project - with Liang playing guitar for delightfully named band Citizens of Ice-Cream, but set up Muxu in early 2006. They’ve also contributed a track to the Mu-nest label compilation ‘We Are All Cotton-Hearted’, alongside other artists such as Lullatone, Piana, Park Avenue Music and Aus.

In any case, Muxu starts out with the delightfully meandering ‘Hishiko’, all sliding ambience and strong melodies - reminding of previous Monotonik artists Sleepy Town Manufacture through a distinct guitar-infused Asian blend, perhaps? It only gets lusher from there, with ‘Let’s Walk On The Frozen Sea’ weaving almost Harold Budd-esque piano into the mix, and ‘Meeting Snow During Summer’ continuing the carefully multi-layered shimmer.

Other highlights include the careful groove of ‘Moving At 30′ and the end track, ‘People Running Away’, which has us running towards, not from Muxu’s lush sound from an unusual place. Thanks, guys.”




"show us your weak side EP"


购买 "above us, a clear summer sky"

06-80, Level 6, Berjaya Times Square
1, Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur


新加坡购买, 联络:


Junk issue06




Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
苜宿 muxu
忙 碌的生活常让我们忘了欣赏天空的美丽。有时候就算有一片蓝天白云,你也不会察觉到。生活在城市里,你有没有常常抬起头来望望天空?“苜宿”为他们的第一 张电子音乐专辑取了一个很有意思的名字--《above us, a clear summer sky》,原来是想要告诉忙碌的城市人,有空要常常望望天,因为那一片蓝天白云也许会给我们带来启示,

“苜 宿”是植物Alfalfa的中文名字,也是由两个热爱电子音乐的年轻人组成的音乐团体。因为喜欢Tiny的东西,喜欢绿色,喜欢植物,团员之一的司徒 毅诚便沿着这个构思去为组合命名。“苜宿本身是一种健康的植物,选这个名字可以带出我们乐观正面的思想,是个非常cool的名字。”当初司徒觉得一个人玩 电子音乐的乐趣有限,便找来陈发亮一起合作,两人偶尔也在一些公开场合表演。间中有唱片公司想签他们出专辑,但后来却因为预算问题而没有签约。这样的过程 给了他们一些启示,两人觉得与其靠别人帮他们出唱片,不如自己自资。“我们认识的朋友也不少,其实不需要靠Label Company,自己DIY也没问题。”就这样,他们在06年头开始策划构思,用了一年的时间完成这张名为《above us, a clear summer sky》的唱片。

整 张专辑从录音到编曲都是在司徒家的home studio DIY完成。由於资金有限,买不起好的录音器材,一切都是以最便宜的方法尽量做到最好。“这是一张属低成本制作的唱片。我们买不起几千块钱的Mic,用的 是一支廉价麦克风。而专辑中的歌曲都是靠电脑Midi去做的。”当然,专辑制作过程也遇到一些困难。比如说技术上的问题。创作编曲固然难不倒他们,但对於 录音制作他们来说却是新手。而除了一手一脚包办专辑中的编曲录音到制作以及专辑设计,他们也找了一些朋友帮忙弹奏一些乐器。“我们不是一开始就什么都会 的,有许多事情都是在摸索中学习,一步一步的完成。遇到不明白的就向朋友请教,请朋友给意见。虽然辛苦,但过程还是蛮有趣的,也学到很多制作上的东西。” “苜宿”也希望他们的唱片能够带给别人一些力,以实际的行动去证明自己。

Above us, a Clear Summer Sky 专辑介绍

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

困在寸步难行的车堆里,望着一条似乎没有终点的车龙。车内的我,连同那微弱的空调,被闷热的天气完全击倒了。把冒汗的双臂置放在驾驶盘上,透过跟前的挡风镜,我缓缓地往上看。 一片湛蓝无云的晴朗天空。真的好久都没有抬头望一望这片天空了。

我翻开身旁的包包,取出muxu (苜蓿) 刚发行的第一张
专辑《Above Us, a Clear Summer Sky》, 放进唱机里。心里,于是,缓缓地扬起了一阵微凉的清风。Above us, a Clear Summer Sky。我望着那清晰的天空,微笑了起来。

muxu, 或苜蓿,乃是大马新崛起的二人音乐组合。它是由本地独立音乐圈子里颇有人气的Eu Seng和本地后摇乐队〈雪糕公民〉的吉它手Tan在2006组成,是一个以Electro-Acoustic为主轴风格的独立音乐组合。两人虽有着不同 的音乐背景,可是却有着共同的音乐理念,那就是要在以Band-sound为主的本地独立音乐圈子里,以有机性电子音乐来注入一股全新的力量。就这样, 《Above Us, a Clear Summer Sky》在不久前的2月1日,以自资方式发行了。

《Above Us, a Clear Summer Sky》里收录了10首muxu在2006年3月至11月之间创作的动听作品。开场曲memorabilia里的钢琴音符,就有着岩井俊二的电影配乐般的 淡淡哀伤。接下来的At Dawn里那悠然的电吉它,让人感觉到了晨曦那幸福的温暖。来到Sunlight Through The Windowpane时,阳光在轻柔的电子节奏和原音吉它的折射下,勾画出一副美得没话说的画面。

而Journey To The City就曾收录于独立厂牌mu-nest的合辑We Are All Cotton-Hearted里,曲末娓娓动听的Reverse Loop乍听之下竟有着苏格兰风笛的韵味,让人惊喜不己!Mockingbird With a Pie (An Evening)先由犹如在学校音乐室里弹奏的钢琴引入,再慢慢加上飘舞飞扬的电子音效和synth line,是一首充满层次感的动听曲目。专辑的完场曲Counting The Sheeps更有温婉的小提琴萦饶着钢琴音符,在有如星星般闪烁的电子节拍之上,撒开了一片清朗如夏的夜空。

Above us, a Clear Summer Sky。于是,你望着那清晰的天空,也跟着微笑了起来。