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June 1, 2015

2V1G – The Third Album

.Article by Tan TE

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This album is the third in the 2V1g series from Pop Pop Music, a Malaysian music label that has been expertly guided by Leslie Loh over the years. Pop Pop Music has produced a string of albums, recorded by its host of Malaysian artists, which are well liked by both audiophiles and music lovers locally and abroad.

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I have had this album for months but was writing about it only now, well, no matter, good music never goes out of date. The successful 2V1G formula continued in this outing, “2V1G” stood for “2 Voices, 1 Guitar”. Two veterans from the previous 2V1G albums were retained, namely Winnie Ho, as one of the two Vs, and guitar maestro Roger Wang, as  the G. The spot for the other V was given to newcomer Serena Chong.

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As in the previous 2V1G albums, the trio did covers of mandarin pop music, the slow and emotional kind. Although the music selection might be already familiar to many, this team put their own mark and their own signature into it, so much so that if it were your first time coming across a particular track on this album, and you heard the original version later, you’d think the original version was the cover. The distinction was really that strong, and is a testament to the artistry of the trio and the vision of the producer.

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There being only one guitar in all the tracks, the accompaniment to the singers was understandably sparse. However, in the hands of Roger Wang, the guitar produced a rich sonority and a beautiful tone, furthermore, Roger’s arrangement never failed to be expertly, tasteful and interesting. The guitar was also very well recorded, with its attack and harmonic content faithfully captured. Roger Wang was an equal partner to the voices, and on a good system, the soundscape would be filled with so much details from the guitar and the voices that the listener would not feel anything was missing from the production.

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Winnie Ho continued to impress with her singing. I felt that she had advanced her art further in this outing. She came across as the more articulate between the two. The phrasing and the little nuances she put into her voice conveyed the emotional content of the songs with intensity, whether she was expressing love, longing or loss. Certain songs on this album were not easy to handle but the way she turned the phrases was just natural and effortless.

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Serena Chong matched Winnie Ho well tonally. Her style was slightly different, she sang with a relatively more ‘straightforward’ manner. It might come across as less sophisticated compared to Winnie but her approach conveyed a certain innocence which I appreciated too.

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Listen to them on their duet and solo on the opening tracks 1, 2 and 3, you’ll recognize the styles and contrast between these 2 beautiful voices.

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This being a hi-fi blog, we have to touch on the sound quality of the recording. Pop Pop Music proudly proclaimed on the album cover “Super High Resolution Audiophile Recording”, and “Dynamic Range DR13”. The latter being an indication that they did not succumb to the loudness war and consciously ensured that their CD was not over-compressed like many current day pop music productions, which sounded flat and rather awful. I think the recording quality of this album was the best in the series. The guitar and voices were captured with natural body and never sounded lean, the performances were enveloped in a nice ambiance too.

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All in all, this is a quiet album that you can play and relax into after a long hard day.