The Observatory – far from silent and objective as its name suggests – is a band whose music and cultural ethos is to respond and speak back to the contemporary afflictions in Singapore and the global milieu. Since its formation in 2001, the band has expressed itself in multiple ways from folk electronica to prog and avant rock, taking a stylistic sledgehammer to each and every one of its previous releases. Its current constellation comprises multi-instrumentalists Cheryl Ong, Dharma and Yuen Chee Wai who tread on improvisation, inter-media, experimentation, and noise-adjacent territories. In confronting new forms of disorders, The Observatory restlessly turns upon itself to agitate, to comfort and to resist.
Two decades on, the band continues to expand its function as an arts organization that strives to sustain and propagate the practice and spectatorship of experimental and improvised music forms. Drawing on old and new lexicons, The Observatory’s polymath practice encompasses music and performance; in-person festivals, touring gigs, online radio shows and interdisciplinary exhibitions. Through their artistic output and programs such as BlackKaji and Playfreely, The Observatory continues to create multiple entry points for audiences to engage with sound and their contexts as well as facilitate networking among experimental music communities in Southeast Asia and beyond.
In January 2022, the band had its first solo exhibition, REFUSE, in Singapore Art Museum.
Just having come out from a major exhibition commissioned by Singapore Art Museum title REFUSE which was centered around fungi, mycelium and underground networks, and also an album launch concert for their latest release,DemonState, The Observatory continues to dive further into different rhythmic expressions that draw inspiration from the tuning and sounds of the gamelan, triggered by different gongs and reyongs, prepared guitar and electronics.
Where change is the only constant and with dance we use to comfort and resist