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Authority is Alive

by Haino Keiji & The Observatory

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  • Limited Edition 12" Vinyl
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    Comes with 2-page insert with exclusive photo and poem.

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Over There 10:43
Over Here 11:33


“Authority is alive!”

Recorded live at the Playfreely Festival in Singapore, November 2019, Authority is Alive is a potent performance mixed from an intoxicating brew of poetry, philosophy and sonic alchemy. Bearing the theme “The Transparency of Turbulence”, the festival featured a strong line-up of East Asian and Southeast Asian artists and bore the ambition to be “an alternative to how we coalesce and navigate a region that is continuously torn apart by words, egos, greed and ideologies.”

“Everything... living... breathe...”

In an unannounced coupling, Japan’s psychedelic and avant-garde legend Haino Keiji teamed up with Singapore’s art rock veterans The Observatory to deliver a visceral performance. Both have a history of using collaboration as method and it is evident that this meeting pushed all musicians to their creative and emotional limits. Haino, alternating between voice and guitar, was sonic shaman, channelling the raw forces of nature through his entire body. Ad libbing from a self-penned poem, his expressionistic vocals spanned tortured shrieks and falsetto whispers on ideas such as the nature of power, the dissolution of the self and the notion of mu-i 無為 (wu wei, or effortless action). Elsewhere, his guitar workouts were wild and unhinged, pure propulsions of energy.

“Do not find...”

The Observatory, pared down to a three-piece since 2019, showed off their new predilection for thrilling improvisation influenced by their Southeast Asian roots. Dharma’s use of a mallet to strike his guitar, prepared with metallic sheets and rods between its strings, created moving, gamelan-like melodies. At certain points, in call-and-response fashion, percussive polyrhythms would be exchanged with Cheryl Ong on drum kit; Ong’s background in traditional Chinese percussion brings a fresh take to an instrument typically employed in western rock and jazz idioms. Meanwhile, Yuen Chee Wai sat his guitar on a knife’s edge between control and excess, introducing beautifully resonant tone clusters and harsh, crunchy noise.

“Be found!”

Under the dim lights of the mid-size black box venue, with audience members sitting cosily at their feet, Haino and The Observatory led an ecstatic communion. Mixed and mastered by Lasse Marhaug, the chance to lose – and find – ourselves in this otherworldly performance is now here.


released October 7, 2020

Haino Keiji > Guitar, Vocals
Dharma > Guitar
Cheryl Ong > Drums
Yuen Chee Wai > Guitar

Recorded live at The Transparency of Turbulence
29 November 2019
Playfreely Festival at 72-13 (Singapore)

Live Recording Engineer > Lee Yew Jin
Mix and Mastering > Lasse Marhaug

Song > Haino Keiji
Translation > Nakayama Yuta

Executive Producer > Mark Wong
Art Direction > Yuen Chee Wai
Cover Photography > Darren Soh
Insert Photography > Third Street Studio

Special thanks to
Christopher Ang (Bcube), Maria Clare Khoo, Kudo Hiromi, Lai Yu Tong, Lee Yew Jin & Jeffery Yue (Ctrl Freak), Andy Lim (Art Factory), Fiona Lim, Nakayama Yuta, Mish’aal Syed Nasar, Mervyn Quek & Ong Soo Mei (72-13), Renée Ting

All Rights Reserved




The Observatory Singapore, Singapore

The Observatory’s music is texturally complex and viscerally emotional, crossing wasted borders and musical extremities that parallel polarities within human existence, provoking and inspiring in a deeply enigmatic way. The group draws inspiration from their Southeast Asian roots and heroes of new music and art. ... more

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