海島小輪 Sea Island & Ferry

IMG_9038.JPG Live Review from Rustic #2
1. 浮生變調 Adrift
2. 水面下生存 Living under water
3. 似水流年 (instrumental reinterpretation of 80s song by Anita mui)
4. 半空飛行 Low Flying

When I read 海島小輪 Sea Island & Ferry’s bio, I immediately knew I was going to be in a for a treat–the quartet is a Hong Kong-based “neoclassical ensemble”, and was formed when Arnold Fang, a singer-songwriter-turned-pianist “gave up on words to tell his stories”.

It’s easy to forget that I’m actually watching them perform at a music bar in Sheung Wan–the second I closed my eyes, I was teleported to a grand concert hall and listening to a piece by world-class musicians.

Nowadays, numerous musicians have chosen to leave school in order to “pursue a career in music”– some even claiming that majoring in music or getting proper training at music conservatories will kill their creativity. 海島小輪 Sea Island & Ferry clearly proves them wrong, as all of the members have a solid foundation in music, which enabled them to compose pieces with arrangements that are comparable to that of film scores.

Despite the fact that their playing styles are completely different from one another, somehow it just turns into this beautiful instrumental piece when it all comes together. But what really caught my eye (and ear) was the Xiao, (a Chinese flute that has more or less a similar tone to western concert flutes), played by KH Tang. When he started playing arpeggios towards the end of ‘Adrift’, their opening tune, I was instantly mesmerised by the ambiance that it has created and how it stood out from the rest. Also, the alternation between a higher and lower note as well as jazz saxophonist Timothy Wan’s silky and soulful base notes fit together perfectly, exuberating a sense of serenity and peace–both of which are nearly impossible to be found anywhere else in a mega city like Hong Kong.

Living Under Water was inspired by a conversation I had with a Japanese colleague who’s transgender,” says Arnold. The tempo changed frequently throughout the whole piece, almost as if they’ve turned all of his emotional turmoil as well as a nagging sense of pain, frustration and uncertainty into melodies.

Put simply, there probably aren’t any bands out there quite like 海島小輪 Sea Island & Ferry. Their music really is the perfect example of the cultural diversity here in Hong Kong.
– Veronica Lin

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Performances by 海島小輪 Sea Island & Ferry: