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Arms and Sleepers | 9th June

The Arms and Sleepers gig at Home Club on the 9th of June, which was opened by local indie folk band Monster Cat, was not without its glitches. Of the two that were on tour, Ben Shepard, who provides vocals for some of the songs, was unable to attend. Not only that, but Singapore also happened to be the first Asian country that the band had ever played in. So it was definitely different; a one man show that was for once neither DJ nor singer-songwriter but something much more than that—in an unfamiliar environment no less. Facilitated by the expertise of Mirza Ramic (one half of Arms and Sleepers), the gig was an unexpected surrealist embodiment of music and people into a singular entity. This was the tether between musician and tripped out crowd. We certainly enjoyed it—hells yeah.

Monster Cat opened the show, setting laid-back overtones for the night with their mellow, harmonic and experimental tunes. A quiet bunch, the band seemed to prefer communicating with the audience via the music, which is all fine in our book. Luckily for them, their music was sufficiently engaging, with musical flourishes and haunting vocals. Overall an applausable performance; slow but enthralling and quite worthy to open for an international artist. A good showcase of their talents to accompany the release of their EP.

Esther of Monster Cat lending some sweet vocals for Arms and Sleepers song ‘The Architekt’

When it came to Arms and Sleepers, we were lucky enough to share a few words with Mirza Ramic before the show, where he shared with us his opinions on genres and music labels.

“I don’t personally like to classify music. I think its too restraining. When I listen to music I don’t really care what it is. If it’s good then its good, no matter what ‘genre’ it is. So i don’t really think about genres; I just think about songs and good musicianship,” he says, thoughtful and poignant. “I like a good pop song,” he adds as an afterthought. Hey man, so do we. Nothing wrong with a little Katy Perry.

ActuallyMAG also brazenly assumed that some of our readers might not be familiar with the band, and so asked on your inquisitive behalf; which album do we check out first?

“The new album, I guess, is a good introduction. It’s sort of a mix of our earlier releases so it has kind of the best moments. Either this release [Organ Hearts] or the last one which was called Matador,” he suggests.

After a quick set up, Arms and Sleepers took the stage with an artillery of sound equipment and an exceptionally hypnotic kaleidoscope visuals. Opening with the first track off their latest album, the set was off to a heady start. With a front row view, we swayed, bopped and at times, like most of the crowd, moved our eyes rapidly; as if in REM sleep in waking.

The set consisted of a healthy mix of trip hop and ambient music, and with every song there was a surprise thrown in. Halfway into the set, Monster Cat singer Esther hopped on stage, much to the joy of the crowd, to help sing ‘The Architekt‘ in Ben’s absence. This particular rendition was everything we’d hoped it would be, from the music video playing in the backdrop to Esther’s soothing vocals.

Mirza Ramic of Arms and Sleepers, going at it like a real trooper

Toward the end, the music got a little quieter, more mellow and spacey. One might understand how the music created an ethereal, almost alien ambiance by listening to their Cinematique EP from ’07. As the music slowed, so did the attention of the crowd as people bustled around and began to sit down. The hypnosis was coming to a close, and the crowd was getting restless as if snapped out of a trance.

In all, a riveting performance from both bands, but not without its shortcomings. Despite it being a gig, we feel it transcended the divide between artist and audience; individual and crowd.

– Jolin

Images c/o Vince.

Check out Monster Cat @ http://www.monstercat.net/

Check out Arms and Sleepers @ http://armsandsleepers.com/

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