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Sunset Rollercoaster – Soft Storm
落日飛車 – 柔性風暴

Sunset Rollercoaster’s third full-length album Soft Storm is an unabashedly, yet also introspectively, funky. The title’s deliberate nod to the slow-burning “Quiet Storm” school of R&B gives a good idea of where things are headed: a musical narrative that patiently builds in intensity, along the way drawing upon soft rock’s cool and agile grooves, the idiosyncratic charms of outsider electronic soul, and shimmering walls of keyboards in East Asian pentatonic scales. 

落日飛車第三張專輯「Soft Strom_柔性風暴」是一陣打從褲管 (或裙底) 撫至內心的風,不由分說地讓浸濕在愛情環流的聽者隨之擺動。專輯名稱毫不掩飾地指向 Quiet Storm (寧靜風暴) 這個多情的當代 R&B 類別,昭示著來襲的浪漫故事只會不斷增強,踩踏著輕搖滾的靈巧腳步順風而行,讓空氣粒子沾染電子靈魂樂的魅力,折射著亞洲五聲音階的綿延柔光。

The album loosely traces the course of rainstorm hitting a city, following the stories of the residents caught in its path. While savvy listeners may note a connection with the typhoons that frequently sweep through the band’s hometown of Taipei, the location is not specified, and the themes are broader: gathering clouds on the horizon and the moment they burst, the ferocity of thunder and lightning, and the eerie calm in the storm’s aftermath—which naturally, lead singer and guitarist Tseng Kuo-Heng metaphorically ties to different stages of romance: infatuation, growing tension, fulfillment, conflict, and bittersweet reminiscence. Darting around the city from building to building, it is a more outward-looking lyrical approach than the band has adopted before, and also more self-aware, even melancholic: the protagonist of one song is “Overlove”; elsewhere, “love was bound to break”—sure to happen, yet equally likely to fall apart; and when a power-outage brings a couple together in the simmering closer “Candelight,” they are nonetheless conscious that the moments they share might be “all snuffed out like those candelights.”

柔性風暴的場景是個籠罩在風雨中的城市,鏡頭凝視著城市居民來往的身影。這裡可以是與颱風為伴的台灣,也可以是地球上任何有心醉及心碎之人的都市。在國宏筆下,無法令人招架的愛情與風暴彼此幻化,是空氣中的不安與蠢動、搶至眼前的電光火石、髮梢到指縫的浸潤、理智棄守的焦慮,以及雨過天晴後的百廢待興。相較過往的飛車,柔性風暴更加不容分說的將所有人的情慾捲入其外圍環流,在暴風眼的中心凝視著關於愛戀的哀愁。從「Overlove/過愛了」到「Bound to Break/愛會壞」,從「Candelight/燭光」到吹熄燭光,輕聲述說著在風雨中的相擁,及放晴後的放下愛情。

Considering the current state of the world, and the circumstances of the album’s making, it should come as no surprise that Soft Storm is touched with a note of disquiet. After years of extensive touring, in early 2020 Kuo-Heng sought a fresh approach, heading to Los Angeles to experiment with new songwriting partners and record under the guidance of producer, singer, and West Coast legend Ned Donehy. But when COVID-19 hit, Kuo-Heng found himself rushing back to Taiwan with a handful of demos. Reunited with Sunset Rollercoaster’s regular line-up, he fleshed out these songs into an album that is both a step into the unknown and a homecoming. Soft Storm is intriguingly both more electronic and more organic than the band’s recent efforts, featuring snapping drum machines and warm blocks of synthetic bass alongside meandering piano lines and clean guitars that form intricate fingerpicked webs or burst into aching solos. Comparisons could be drawn to the laidback, luxurious, and ever-so-slightly world-weary vibe of Donehy’s music, or late-period Yellow Magic Orchestra and Yukihiro Takahashi’s solo work—Kuo Heng plays the role of an almost-jaded romantic observing the world around him, knowingly smiling at young couples, but more lovelorn than he might want you to believe. In Soft Storm, the wind and rain are blowing through town, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find little tenderness. 

在這難以捉摸的一年,外界的不可抗力牽動著柔性風暴的製作過程,讓這張專輯以意想不到的方式誕生。經歷數年緊湊的巡迴行程後,尋求新探險的國宏在 2020 年初踏上洛杉磯的街道,準備嘗試與另一組創作團隊合作,探索音樂上的其他可能性,並邀請西岸的傳奇製作人、歌手 Ned Donehy 指導新作品的錄製。意料外的疫情讓這趟旅程嘎然而止,不過倉促返台的國宏在行囊中滿滿地裝著於異地完成的新歌 Demo,回到家鄉與飛車團員聚首。

於是,這些曲折在音軌上刻成了對折的地圖,將遠行與歸途之路鋪在黑膠溝槽兩側,而唱針代替了指南針,標示著新聲音的方向。以強勁的電子鼓聲、溫暖的合成器貝斯鋪底,蜿蜒流瀉的鋼琴與情緒收放自如的電吉他彼此呼應,將 Donehy 的慵懶揉合進 Yellow Magic Orchestra/高橋幸宏的炫目色彩。

「柔性風暴」是飛車在 33⅓ 轉速唱盤上刮起的浪漫旋風,讓大規模的柔情肆虐,讓那些關於愛的情緒都能得到釋放。

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