Singersen - Sirens (2011, China) Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Sirens, Snow Queen
In my last review I mentioned that my focus on music had declined in favor of other hobbies. That wasn't exactly the case. In reality, for a while I no longer had interest in discovering new bands and new genres - unless they were somehow directly linked with things I already liked. Sometimes I think our tastes do tend to solidify as we get older, and we get complacent where we are. However, I'm not entirely content with that mindset, and I know my perceptions of music can benefit from some fresh input. So I still make an effort, even if in but some small degree, to push myself outside my comfort zone - which surprisingly might branch out from a genre in which my favorites originate and into a genre pleasantly new to me.
During my time of reduced interest permeated with contemplating and searching, several artists struck a note with me and aroused my curiosity. I hope to discuss those artists in future posts, but for now I'll begin with SingerSen, the musician that I discovered browsing through my recommendations on last.fm. She has a beautiful voice that bonds and weds with the many sounds, be they instruments or animal 'impressions', incorporated into each of her songs. This artist has broken new ground, and I definitely can't wait to see what she puts out in the future.
Sen was born in Liaoning, China, and started performing at age 4. She accredits much of her musical talents to her dad, who, though professionally unlearned in music, learned seven types of Chinese instruments by himself and could write down a music's score after once hearing it on the radio. As a youngster she became accustomed to playing alone, had a vivid imagination and loved day dreaming, some of whose aspects she incorporated into her music. She won the 10th CCTV National Young Singers competition and also the 14th Voice of Asia International Pop Competition with a perfect 10 score and is naturally talented with a unique voice covering over three and a half octaves. Her talent drew internationally known producer Guy Sigsworth, who has worked with Madonna, Britney Spears, Bjork, and Imogen Heap, and Chinese music producer He Qi into her music entourage, and the combination seems to be extremely impressive.
I decided to give an overview of the songs on this album but not be too detailed because I encourage you to listen to them to decide what you hear. You can tell Guy Sigworth had his hand in the production of "Drunk," as the heavy emphasis on electro dubstep gives the song a boost but doesn't overpower her vocals. Her voice, which is bursting, colorful and expressive, takes the melodies to an even higher level. My most replayed song from the ep is "Sirens". It incorporates mass orchestral strings, yet has haunting, trance-inducing sound effects and a music box style melody while her voice expands and soars above the instrumentals. "Wolf" is another electro-based song that includes the usage of traditional instruments and wolf howls that modulate in pitch then blend in with her natural singing. This track really shows the impressive command she posesess over her range and tone. "Longing" reminds me of something I'd hear in a jazz lounge but that doesn't make it any less original. The piano led melody and glitchy beat pairs up nicely with her crooning vocals. "Miss Spider" completely switches gears with a fusion of rock and electro-synth. Here she shows off the widest variation of flexibility and versatility in her voice. I can't help but think she had the most fun recording this song, especially given her playful giggling strategically placed throughout the song that actually sounds more like another clever vocal technique. "Snow Queen" is an amazing soundscape that really was an excellent sonic representation of a frightening snow queen: hypnotic, glacial and beautiful. The places she takes her voice within just one song is amazing as her vocals weave between crazy electronics and jagged riffs.
This album is for people who are interested in a singer whose music transcends many genres while still maintaining her roots, takes on the unexplored, experimental, techno-flavored side of Chinese indie-rock, and has complex vocal arrangements. Yes, she's similar to a certain Icelandic songstress. While I think it can be a great disservice to the artist (and a huge pet peeve of mine) to compare the two since each is special in her own right, SingerSen's voice certainly carries the same vitality, intensity, and strength but is a little more polished. Her music tells you a story worth listening to again and again. Its definitely music you want to lie in bed and dream to. I highly recommend you check her out, regardless of which genre you usually listen to, and enjoy this treat!