Album Name: Arcadia
Release Date: 2nd August 2019
01. San Tao 三桃
03. A Picture of Death 手機的照片
04. Temporary Eternity 暫時永遠
By Jocelle Koh
With verdant guitar riffs and organic arrangements, Singaporean post-rock singer-songwriter Goose shows that he has truly left the idyllic amusement park he created in his previous EP ‘If I Left The Park?…’; and embraced new challenges and sceneries in his 2019 EP ‘Arcadia’. Moving away from the heady fuzz and childlike quirks of his previous works, Goose embraces new challenges from a more introspective and organic place; referencing Arcadia, a greek province often associated with unspoiled, harmonic wilderness and using it as his jumping point for this journey of self-discovery and a loss of innocence as he ventures out into the untamed wilderness.
For me, the EP is unique in its carefully crafted storytelling. Drawing on melodies that are influenced both by the East and the West (‘San Tao’ gives me a very Australian indie rock vibe, while ‘Arcadia’ reminds me of Taiwanese band F.I.R’s earlier mystical Mandopop works); Goose mentions that the message of the four-song EP is the experience of being locked out from paradise; so close yet so far to a thing or a person who seemed within your grasp.
Immediately what sprung to mind for me was English poet John Milton’s famous epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’ which details the story of Adam and Eve; a lost of innocence from eating forbidden fruit, and their eventual departure from God’s paradise, filled both with sadness and hope. The album seems to draw on many themes the poem touches on, and whether or not this was intentional, I’m here for it.
Starting off the album with happy-go-lucky track ‘三桃San Tao’, juicy, bright riffs characterise this luscious piece as Goose sings about the irony that lies in breaking up with someone, only for them to come back soon after having changed their mind. I love how the bright riffs and natural arrangement juxtapose with Goose’s signature wry and quirky lyricism; foreshadowing that all is never as it seems.
By Jocelle Koh
I once almost got into a minor car accident while listening to David Tao. I was really into his ‘I’m Ok’ album at the time, and was belting the words to ‘Small Town Girl小鎮姑娘’ whilst filtering onto the freeway. East-meets-West R&B has always been one of my favourite niche genres, and Tao’s album truly had me caught in the moment, mind, body and soul. Long story short, I was too busy singing that my steering wheel veered to the right causing my car to scrape against the rails.
You may be asking - what was even the point of that story? Such was the era of east-meets-west Mandarin R&B especially in the early 2000s; characterised by an innate groovability and bouncy, delicious melodies that you could have on repeat infinitely that involuntarily take up all of your headspace. And oh, those full, dynamic fusion arrangements punctuated by vocal improvisations which make even the most simple, repetitive melody refreshing and innovative.
These are all the things that I love and remember fondly about Mandarin RnB; so enticing to me that they are ancient-inducing; yet unfortunately in this new age where everything is about trap music and being woke, I had long put to rest hopes that those classic favourites as popularised by David Tao and Wang Leehom could ever be replicated. But miraculously, up-and-coming Taiwanese R&B band Sugarcat’s debut self-titled album effectively proved that this vein of East-meets-West R&B still has a place in contemporary Mandarin music; doing a superb job of transforming and effectively updating it to hold its own.