18 Sep Dive into the mind of Charlie Lim as he speaks about his album
Charlie Lim speaks about creative purpose, his cathartic and musical experience creating his vinyl record TIME/SPACE, and explores the concept of a musician’s work as that of a healer
Video by Raphael Ong (http://rphl.me) & Lee Jing Wei (http://leejingwei.com)
Text by Jozua Zhang
Charlie Lim sits in a mirror.
The master of melancholy is throned on a black high back swivel chair, the headrest bearing the weight of his lower neck.
Smothered in a black cardigan and grey cotton trousers, his eyes lie in between a mix – of a Shiba Inu (a doggo you could find a suitable identifier; both socially and ergonomically) and of an almost zen-like philosopher musician, relaxed and rested in a manner some might conflate with defeatism, but don’t be tricked – Charlie is inspired, and hungry.
Music is the obsession. To suck the marrow out of every single bleeding experience of life, and to translate that into informed, learned and tangible songs of pain and healing.
It’s been about two years since his game changing indie-mainstream crossover double EP reverberated through the shores of the South East Asian regional music precipice. There was a sense of confidence in his work that resonated with artists alike in the region, with many professing their newfound admiration for his work ethic and ability to bring his wide, cinematic, and unique vision to fruition.
TIME/SPACE exists in a sort of a perfect, abstract world of it’s own. The two bookends open and then close out on the record so delicately, and after you’re finished is akin to surfacing on the shore from some dilapidated and extraordinary dream. (He does drown reverse Jaime Lannister style anyways in the ending of the I Only Tell The Truth music video). I only tell the truth because I miss you/ But there you stood so many worlds away / We’d scale the walls just before they crumble /Put it on the line just to reel it in
His head is up in the clouds, but his feet are firmly planted in reality as he trudges along the coastline. He’s self conscious about the cliches that surround the singer-songwriter archetype, but doesn’t battle against the waves.
He revels in the despair of the tortured artist instead, bringing out the theatrics all guns blazing for the show instead, employing every single moment to be as gripping as it can be to the listener, with it’s crusty, post-apocalyptic tone dipped in the undertows of sentimental 40’s American big band and jazz music (Cue scouring in the quarry for Deathclaws in Fallout New Vegas as The Ink Spots play on your Pip-boy’s radio)
We’ve had our fair bits of witty one-liners over the years: Should I measure the tears we’ve cried /Against the arc of conversation Still, the wordsmith manages to remain elusive, but heartfelt. It’s this duality that makes the record an invigorating concept. Stuttering trumpets and trickling keys dance upon the upstage of some lounge in Blah Blah Blues, bass synths crawl on the interludes on Bitter and even something as minuscule but fore-sought as that airline cabin sound at the beginning of I Only Tell The Truth, are punctuated with design and thought. Someway through these little details strewn around, you could almost casually imagine the thought process in his mind – Can this be done better? Am I making the maximum use instrumentally for this section to be more impactful?
Charlie adjusts his lapel mic.
“One two, one two. Hey hey.”
As you peek around the interior of his bedroom, you’re treated to a view of something closely intertwined with his creative headspace at his condominium, where he lives alone. Instead of a maximalist approach, living is simple and uncluttered. A pedalboard is neatly tucked parallel from his wooden bed frame, with the sunlight pouring through a slightly convex room tall window, in between draws of prussian blue.
The philosophy of time and space has been cut-bare discussed, dissected and explored for as long as our species has existed: from J.M.E McTaggart’s piece in 1827 positing time as nothing more than a misunderstood illusion (because our descriptions of it are circular and full of contradictions to the human experience) to recent mainstream contemporaries like Hollywood’s sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar.
So what was the artist trying to project when he titled his double ep ‘TIME/SPACE’ over those dimensions of physics and relativity?
In this video, Charlie speaks about creative purpose, the duality and humanity he was trying to project on his vinyl record TIME/SPACE, and explores the concept of a musician’s work as that of a healer.
Charlie Lim & The Mothership will be performing at the Brisbane Festival on Sunday, September 17th at 5pm at The Courier-Mail Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in South Brisbane.
Tickets are available here.
Due to popular demand, the TIME/SPACE Vinyl is available now on limited run at select vinyl retailers
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