mr sterile Assembly (also simply known as the Assembly) has grown since the last time we saw them in Singapore in '07. With Transit, a fifth release just in time for their tenth anniversary, the idealism of drum and bass duo Kieran Monaghan and Chrissie Butler shines through. A collaborative project, Transit is not your ordinary album pressed on CD, listened to x number of times, and then all but forgotten. It is instead a multidisciplinary endeavour of sorts, with each song accompanied by an art piece, which culminated into an exhibition which we here in Singapore regret not being able to physically see.
The title of the album is brilliantly apt. As the tracks flit from jazz to math rock to ska to folk, one imagines themselves being transported from one place to another, and the transitions feel almost seamless. Interspersed with spoken word, shrill/soothing vocals, offbeat signatures, and groovy basslines, this almost sounds too chaotic to even be listenable. But the Assembly somehow manage to execute the album with precision, with their punk roots undeniably creeping in at different points throughout.
And what is music without words, without lyrics? Amidst the discordance lie some of the most incisive writing, as we're taken on another journey yet again -- this time through anti-war sentiments, Hone Tuwhare's poems, New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation, and even an ode to a migrant worker in Singapore. And as if everything else weren't enough, the Assembly have included lyrics to their songs as hyperlinks on their website, for those of us so inclined to delve into the nuances of their artistic offering.
This literary cacophony will be touring SE Asia starting from 15th July, with 2 dates (28th and 29th July) in Singapore. What else can we say? You can't not witness them in their full, live, performative glory.