sub:shaman talks us through their debut album, Apnea

sub:shaman talks us through their debut album, Apnea

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Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Ryhan Tomita

Singapore alternative band sub:shaman shares the creative process behind their debut album, Apnea

1. 'Apnea'
"This is the favourite of most of the band. 'Apnea' is the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep, informing Marc Gabriel Loh's stunning interpretation in the album art of a man drowning or being swallowed into his bed. Sonically, the song builds into an increasingly urgent crescendo...only to abruptly cut to lone vocals — a sudden nakedness and vulnerability that is still felt in performance when we play the song live. Eventually, the track decays into fragmented, offbeat voices. The track (and album) ends with a stark acapella of ah, ah, ahs — with what feels like a despairing, desperate shout into the void."

2. 'Maraschino Mist'
"Instrumentally, this track is sort of the freshest snapshot of where we are as a band right now. The rhythms, melodies and riffs modulate a lot from section to section, and we feel it showcases what the band currently can — and likes to — do. Lyrically, this — along with a number of other tracks — is based off a series of weish's recurring nightmares. In them, she meets various people she has wronged or maligned in the past, who exact their revenge in different ways. What ensues is general gore."

3. 'O Negative'
"Originally, the lyrics from this track started as a part of the first draft of the song 'Hypnotist', from our Outsider EP. It imagines a magician who uses smoke and mirrors as part of his routine, and upon dying finds himself trapped inside a mirror from which he views and haunts people. It's one of our slower yet more heavily effected tracks — surreal and hypnotic. It featured on ilm, a split EP we did with Japanese band Qu and released by Lithe Records in 2015."

4. 'To The Bone'
"We wrote and have been playing it since early 2013. Since then, the song has evolved and rewritten itself a few times — it has become more rhythmically and technically challenging over time, maybe in an effort to keep it fresh for ourselves after having played it for so long."

5. 'A-Hole'
"It's an homage to all the lovely a-holes we have ever had the profound displeasure of working with in our lifetimes. We wish they would go back, back, back, back into their holes and never again see the light of day. Marc, in his gorgeous 18-page comic that accompanies our album, interestingly colours the song with his own narrative. Borrowing imagery from his own dreamscape, his hole is a bottomless grave — turning the piece into a surreal reflection on mortality and dreams. This helped inform and inspire the music video for the track, where Marc plays an artist struggling with the creative process as he tries to create art inspired by a strange dream."

sub:shaman is made up of IsaO, Weish, Syadie, Hanis and IsaF. Listen and order Apnea by sub:shaman.

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