Sawi Lieu and I\D - Split CD-R
(Self-released 2011)

From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)

Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, Sawi Lieu is a musician who has delved into a variety of different styles of music with a variety of different bands, but on his solo works, he leans toward Krautrock/ambient/experimental territory. One half of this Sawi Lieu and I\D split is comprised of his single, lengthy, untitled creation. This is definitely not mellow, fade into the background music. Combining noisy but very listenable deep drones with psychedelic glitches and languid distant melodies, Sawi Lieu creates a dense soundscape that is vibrant and challenging. As the piece evolves, throbbing train-like rhythms arise from and submerge back into the soundscape, as do colourful flourishes, and gamelan-like sounds, working up a startling complexity for this kind of music. The piece shifts and changes, restless, never content to continue in one direction, finally emerging as a beautiful, fractured tone poem conjuring up exotic lands seen through dreamy eyes. Uncompromising, Sawi Lieu doesn't give into new age pleasantries, but instead creates soundscapes with a real edge to them. This one piece is worth the price of the CD alone.

But still to come is Singaporean band I\D with their two part improvisation, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. A tense rhythm section of mid tempo drums and menacing bass buoys experimental textures woven together with trilling synth stabs, weird angular Crimsonesque guitar ruminations, and something that sounds like a very distorted Talk Box, like the extremely bad acid version of the middle part of Peter Frampton's Do You Feel Like We Do. Recorded in what sounds like a giant, empty hall, the music echoes with dimension, filling space while still being spacious itself. From sections of pure wall of sound to sparse, minimalist passages and cosmic understandings, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a delirious celebration of the end of the world, as everything we know crumbles about us, and there we are, dancing as we die.

Each artist performs about 25-minutes worth of music, sharing the split quite evenly time-wise, but each one providing a completely different side of the balance. From the colourful and dreamy, to the dark and harrowing, the Sawi Lieu I\D split is a multi-faceted trip into the startling experimental sounds currently coming out of Southeast Asia.

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Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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