Monday, February 05, 2007

Shorthand Phonetics - New Adventures in Meta Songwriting

Hear The Track Here

OK, here's one for you - a song about writing a song. It could have only have come from the fertile imagination of one Ababil Ashari and his Shorthand Phonetics bandname. Anyone who has een around Soundclick for any length of time will have been made aware of this highly distinctive (if raucous) Indonesian band; either from the many reviews from myself and other Critics Corner reviewers, or from a direct encounter with their vivid, punk rock style delivery on staple SP tracks such as Green Apple Garden (a classic btw), All Too Platonic and a great many other worthwhile and entertaining tracks. The sound and fury of the band in full spate while decidedly lo-fi (and as ruff as a bears butt), the sheer power and energy those tracks throw out more than makes up for the few duds IMHO they have also given us.

I don't like the band's softer, cuddlier side. Might as well make that plain right now.

There isn't much soft and cuddly about New Adventures etc etc and considering its a 'song about writing a song' the one thing it does is show the ball breaking, tedious and frustrating activity music making can often be. In a word: painful. Although the overall sound has improved quite dramatically from the 'old' Shorthand Phonetics - there's now a distinctly clear production (and in meaningful stereo too) - it does tend to highlight certain other disappointments this track has in store - especially to one who has followed their 'career' with great interest. It isn't, by any stretch, a bad track IMO just a little ill formed and not very well thought out.

The one thing that has always attracted me to Ababil's work has been his songwriting and vocal styles, and having lived with this track for a while it is funny. Why the lyrics are not online as well surprises me because that's half the fun of the track. Where it falls down, and quite badly at that, are in the main vocals and in some of the guitar leads. Firstly the vocal is rushed, clearly straining in certain segments of the track and it's jarring, as are the almost-out-of-tune lead guitar lead lines that pepper the 'chorus'. To be sure it only conjures up a ghost of what Shorthand Phonetics were about and that's partly down to Ababil's individual style, which works when he finally unleashes himself in the section around 2:20 and catches fire around 3:04. That's the style I was looking for from the track . For my money this needs tidying up in those areas and I think doing that will make this the track it promises to be at times.

Good song but a work in progress??

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