【本地薑】M.1.5 潛藏於百花璀璨中的萬丈深淵 - 《Laika》- Synergy
所以，拿著 Synergy 的 《Laika》，心中有一份感動。精緻的插畫，在粗糙書紙上熨銀的印刷，托起唱片的摺工，樂隊的繡章與插畫穿插的歌詞卡；樂隊對這張唱片的重視，完美地傳遞到我的手中。
英文的曲目《Dromos Home》開首的清澈結他編排令人不能抽離，是一抹迷濛的失落。那一把清泉般的朗讀，僅此一句，是狂嘯及低鳴的腔調都做不到的異彩。那漸趨失落凝重的氣氛、飄浮於虛無中的結他段落、沉重的旋律彷彿是拖曳的步履，帶出了天使折翼墮凡的無助。隨後的《The First Filth》中神、魔鬼、天使及信徒之間的各自演述，是極具戲劇性的處理手法；隨著角色演變而不斷扭曲的音樂結構，充分展示了樂手嘔心瀝血、精雕細琢的創作編排。
終目《Sodom and Gomorrah》，是聖經中天火焚城及回首成灰的故事。詞中表意刻劃神降天災及倉皇逃避的情景，但歌詞中復加出現「不要回頭、只管逃離命運和罪惡的過往」的一字一句，彷彿帶著一點弦外之音，警醒世人放下悔罪的既往。
最後細說筆者手執這張唱片的一個小小故事。此專輯的命題《Laika》，其實是筆者心中一個深刻的名字。因 Laika，是作者良久前曾閱讀的一片專題的主角。Laika是一隻浪蕩蘇聯的流浪狗，一隻於1957年被蘇聯太空總署放在太空船的生物實驗；蘇聯美其名為「太空小狗」。荒謬的是，這隻太空小狗的真正結局，足足被埋末了近50年；在2000年後蘇聯才透露，在太空船到達太空後的幾小時，Laika因艙內氣溫控制失靈及極度的恐懼和焦慮中斃於太空艙中；太空船成為了 Laika 的棺木，太氣層的燃燒叫 Laika 成為某一夜的流星。
當看到 Synergy 的《Laika》，其封面正正是月球下快樂的小狗，其奉送的繡章恰如一個太空總署的徽章，筆者有過一個渺渺的願望 - 這張專輯將以太空的黑暗孤寂、以動物與人的生命的基本權利、以貪婪爭利不擇手段的人類醜惡作命題成為深刻反思的統一概念專輯。惜曲目中的《The First Filth》、《Sodom and Gomorrah》的題材和文字，告訴我這張專輯並不是已Laika 為中心的構思；惟筆者這一點妄想，曾經令筆者興奮不已。感念於此，期待 Synergy 能在不久將來的一張專輯中，成就一張概念完整的前衛滅世金屬唱片；筆者相信以 Synergy 的音樂能力和修養，那將會是一禎令人愛不惜手的專輯。
這張專輯，總而言之，就像一個求愛的少年。扭盡六壬，就為我們的一刻歎為觀止。筆者深感興奮，甘於被 Synergy 拖著走，看著他們力求完美的音樂世界。如前所說，筆者是深受感動的，亦令筆者對 Synergy 抱著萬二分的期待；Synergy 對編曲的舖排的完美追求，將引發樂隊不斷的探索和試煉，並令 Synergy 的音樂茁壯成香港非主流音樂中一名精煉創新的先行者。
Infree Records' Synergy 樂隊專頁：
I used to visit the huge music store and surfed through thousands of CDs searching for new music when I was in high school. This is a personal moment, in which I wandered around numerous album covers, and build the worst habit in my life – buying albums with great covers. A great cover design means a lot, we can visualize the effort and attitude of the musician throughout the production, and an album design is in a certain degree speaking out the album’s style and genre. I win and lose inevitably in this cover game, but I learnt from the experience that a nice cover can visualize and deliver the passion and sincerity of the musician.
That is why I am touched when I had Synergy’s 《Laika》in my hands. Wonderful illustrations, the silver layer on matt rough paper, the brilliant folding design, the badge and lyrics cards showed me how important this album meant to the band.
But the album design did not over-shine the quality music. The spinning vinyl and the guitar melody playing through a short-wave radio in the introduction track 《Laika》, gave us a taste of the 60s / 70s era, a moment of absolute silence. The scent of hollow and darkness in this track led me to the band’s world of dark music. 《夢道》is the signature of Synergy. In the swirl of doom and progressive metal, Synergy displays its sophistication and excellence in technicality – marvelous guitar riffs and solos, ever-shifting paces, unpredictable and creative patterns and melodies, poetic Chinese lyrics and the majestic vocal – it is a feast for progressive, black and doom metal lovers.
For the English tracks, the clean and mesmerizing guitar in the intro of《Dromos Home》is addictive; the clean whisper that follows is brilliant and out of the world. The atmosphere was dragged heavily by the strong riffs and the haunted guitar licks; the melody visualizes the helplessness of the fallen angels. The opera-like verses by God, Devil, Angels and followers in the track《The First Filth》are interesting, the drastic changes of patterns throughout the conversations and claims by different roles show the patience and effort paid by the band in arrangement.
2 Chinese tracks followed. 《優越論》reflects about the fate of people living in drastic variety of living standards and classes in the society, and being powerless to change the situation. The ugliness of greedy people, the blood-sucking nobles and the grassroots who paid their sweat and tears for temporary happiness…everybody is a dissected corpse with emptiness left within. 《迴》is a love song for eternal separation instead. The lonely man staying awake in the silent night recalling the bitter-sweet memories of the one who passed away is a slow dancing with poison and death. The guitar solo with a little classical touch in 《迴》 is the author’s favorite, in which guitar transformed to an elegant violin singing for the loneliness.
《Sodom and Gomorrah》is the story of the disastrous plague for the unfaithful city and the fatal look back of the disobedient woman to god in the Bible. The lyrics illustrates the epic destruction and the flee with horrors, but the message about no looking back from the past of guilt and fate, was more like a reminder and an attitude on how to live our lives.
I sit alone in my room facing the swirling melodies remaining in my head. The journey of these 7 tracks can only be described as an adventure in music technicality. As a debut album, the quality of the mix, the EQ balance is mature in general, the excellence of instrument technicality and the versatility of the vocal is great. Audience will get something new in each pace-shift, and the pattern changes are epic. “They are trying their very best” is the spirit of this album.
But the attitude to “try their very best” will sometimes be a double blade sword. The audience may get lost in the enormous arrangement and technicality and be distracted from the key message, concept and emotions in the lyrics and expressions. There is no dispute that this album is excellent in terms of technicality and the author enjoyed much with the arrangement; yet author is looking forward to a further escalation of the balance between the structure & arrangement of the music and the lyrics & emotions of the music.
Being an album with both English and Chinese written songs, the Chinese compositions are more sophisticated and well-written compared to the English ones. With emotional and well-crafted Chinese lyrics, songs like 《夢道》,《優越論》and《迴》are better furnished in pace-shifting and song structure, which enhanced the expression of the in-depth reflections and mood of the songs. The author thus hope Synergy would further develop their strength, and establish their compositions more in Chinese.
There is a little story about this album and me. The title《Laika》is actually a name I have known for long - it is the subject of a featured story I read few years ago. Laika was actually a stray dog wandered in Moscow, a doggy that was captured by the USSR as the test subject on a space project in 1957. They gave her a catchy nick-name - “Space Dog”. The pathetic part of this story is that the true ending of “Space Dog” Laika was only unveiled in the 2000s, nearly 50 years later. The poor Laika was killed by the intolerable heat and the fear and anxiety of itself in the spaceship with the cooler failed just few hours after the spaceship reached the orbit. The spaceship was the coffin for the innocent dog, and Laika was burnt into a shooting star when the spaceship fell to the ozone.
Thus, the 1-minute track 《Laika》was very impressive to me. The spinning vinyl and the fading guitars are like the last scene Laika experienced, an absolute silence in the emotional darkness filled with stars of the hollow universe.
With the beautiful illustration of a dog running happily in space on the album cover, I have a false but exciting expectation that this album would be a holistic conceptual album with an exploration of the dark and hollow space, the relationships and rights of the living human and animals, and the greed and cruelty of human in achieving their endless ambitions. Obviously, the tracks 《The First Filth》and《Sodom and Gomorrah》had told me that it was not the case, yet my little crazy thoughts had already been an exciting experience. After this roller-coaster experience, I had a wish that one day Synergy would utilize their music ability and technicality to compose an album with a holistic progressive concept. That could very well be an album I am much looking forward to.
This album is like a flirting boy in the nutshell. The boy did everything to impress. Well, I am impressed, and am willing to follow this boy to his wonderland of music. With this album, I had great expectation on Synergy’s next album; their perfectionism in composing and technicality would lead their ways to endless exploration and experiment, which will finally lead Synergy to be one of the groundbreaking pioneers in Hong Kong’s indie music scene.
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