I never thought it could happen, but my album of the year is a collection of exhilarating jazz standards by one Kamasi Washington, who is most notable for his turn on Kendrick Lamar’s end-of-year-lists-topping To Pimp A Butterfly, prior to the release of this three-hour long magnum opus. The Epic discards any pre-conceived expectations of any hip-hop jazz hybrid making an appearance. Instead, The Epic is clearly much influenced by classics from Coltrane and Davis, although Patrice Quinn’s soulful vocals give tracks such as Henrietta Our Hero and The Rhythm Changes a much appreciated R&B oomph. Clearly, Kamasi Washington’s tenor saxophone is the main highlight here, elevating the album to epic status. If you feel that jazz is not your thing, a listen to tracks such as Re Run Home and Cherokee would surely change your mind.
Bakuman is the live action adaptation of the lesser-known manga by the same team that brought you the mega-popular Death Note series. If nothing else, it certainly highlights the versatility of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who switched gears from the fantasy-thriller of Death Note to the more realistic comedy-drama of Bakuman. Bakuman is about the Manga industry in Japan and the blood, sweat and tears that go into the weekly production of the comic strips published in Shonen Jump. It also touched briefly on karoshi (death from overwork), a badge some Japanese proudly wear under some misguided notion of pride and responsibility. For a movie that celebrates the relatively clichéd notions of “friendship, struggle, triumph”, the movie has a very pragmatic ending that will resound with any individuals who have ever engaged in any forms of creative endeavors.
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
Presented by Sonny Liew
To say that The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is one of the most important book releases in Singapore would be an understatement. When the National Art Council pulled out its $8,000 grant to the book, copies of The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye predictably flew off the shelves. Controversy aside, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a testament that artistic integrity can survive the harsh censorship of the day. The importance of the book is twofold; it showcases the remarkable talents of one Charlie Chan (now in his 70s), who uses a distinctive style that adopts a mix of Western and Japanese influences to reimagine a uniquely Singaporean adventure. More importantly, it serves as an archive of the author’s political commentary on a period of history in Singapore that is widely undiscussed to this date. Its uncompromising stance is rarely seen and may very well be an extinct quality where Singapore is concerned.
Best TV Show
I am convinced that the only reason why Silicon Valley is not as widely watched as other sitcoms that target nerd culture is the fact that each episode is filled to the brim with so many inside jokes about the tech sector that it becomes impenetrable to the general audience. Be that as it may, without that layer of authenticity defining the at times ridiculous (but strangely genuine) hijinks of the tech sector, the show would just be another Big Bang Theory. So here’s hoping that Silicon Valley keeps us entertained for a few more seasons.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a five year old fighting game that I only got into recently. The over-the-top anime style of the game is very much reminiscent of Arc Systems Work’s previous 2D fighter – Guilty Gear. Like Guilty Gear, the design and fighting styles of each character sometimes border on the outlandish, but that is all part of the appeal of this super addictive fighter.