13 May, 2013

Xiao He 小河 Low Wormwood 低苦艾 Liu Kun 刘昆 Traveler 旅客 Li Daiguo 李带果


Xiao He is one of the most important avant-garde artists in China, his astonishing creativity doesn’t change or vanish with the passing of time, instead he becomes more distinctive and interesting. He keeps on playing his solo symphonies and “universal experimental folk”, which has gained him much appreciation and a glowing reputation. Xiao He and his songs have been to dozens of countries . While performing, he jumped off the stage and broke his feet. Silly's Ballad was created while he was instructed to rest at home by doctors, with his feet set in heavy casts. Xiao He wrote all 12 songs with an acoustic guitar, he even recorded them while in bed and on the couch. The album overflows with beautiful melodies and classic folk arias.

Under this scene, all things seemed return to the original. Like he writes in the album, “While I was recording [the songs], cicadas were tweeting, and sometimes even a plane passed by. I tried to record without any external sounds before by thickening the walls of my studio, but at the same time I was isolating beautiful things outside.” So, when Xiao He returned to write love songs again, he was inspired by diverse colors and sounds. Xiao He is pure, and so is his music. And so is Silly's Ballad. Besides the self-deprecating title, natural feelings hide in every sentence of the lyrics, reflecting Xiao He’s wisdom and philosophy. The use of narrative poems throughout the album helps Xiao He express his mystical world in sounds and words.

More to the point, this folk album is in a brand new format: not on CD, not on tape, but as a ‘musical artbook’. It is perhaps a first in the domestic indie music market. It should not just be a quick “that’s cool” moment, because multimedia truly enables Xiao He’s creativity better expression. This artbook contains 12 different pictures of leaves, drawn by Xiao He in Zurich in 2010. Those leaves lay scattered on the mountain road Xiao He walked along every morning to exercise. 12 songs correspond to 12 different leaves. High-end headphone brand 233621 has generously provided specialised custom-made headphones for this ‘album’. Their unique “INC” technology can reduce surrounding noise, enabling a totally different listening experience. Furthermore, this musical artbook also includes three music videos which were commissioned to three up-and-coming and very talented directors:  Yu Liwei, Yang Jinand and Zhang Yuedong.

Xiao He expressed his wishes for the artbook: “I hope this album will become the glorious road along which a silly person is looking for another silly person.”

Each book comes with an mp3 player built in. It will be a limited and exclusive printing of only 1,000 artbooks

Maybe Mars 2011

Low Wormwood

The band Low Wormwood (di ku ai), which in the corner of Lanzhou, has got the unique pride and mind to view themselves and the world. Picking a wisp of wind from the Yellow River, scooping up a handful of snow from the Qilian Mountain, collecting a piece of sand from Loess Plateau, then mix them as a kind of style that is impassioned and forceful but not artificial, close to heart but not compromise. they use this kind of independent attitude to compose their music. Independent and psychedelic, based on simple ballad style with multiple instruments and variety samplings, together made their music strong experimental and national colour. They have won high popularity as they publish an album and tour each year, which not only makes them one of the most active and excellent domestic bands, but also one of the representative bands of Lanzhou and northwest of China.

The Watcher CD
Maybe Mars 2013

Lanzhou Lanzhou CD 
Maybe Horse/Maybe Mars 2011

Liu Kun

Liu Kun, born in Zhelaizhai county after the 1980's, firmly believes that he is the descendent of a Roman soldier, who was besieged with his army during a war in Zhelaizhai two thousand years ago. He often dreams of himself being a soldier, raising his sword on a running horse, breaking open a way through brambles and thorns, however, wakes up to find his arms painful and aching, realises that all was nothing but a dream. Anyway, he isn’t bothered by the mysteries of his DNA at all, because he finds art more fascinating. As a little boy in a town, he was never too eager to show himself by dancing, singing and playing drums and guitars, despite the rough stage of that little shabby theater. There he would feel like being in a dream once the lights were on. Years later, he went to Lanzhou for further education, and that was a university. He soon became a sincere and dedicated lover to drama, joining the school drama troupe, writing plays and acting on stage, he was full of energy to lead his company to success. And quite out of expectancy, a feature program was made for this energetic young man by the local TV station. Anyway, he isn’t bothered by this issue at all. It is the parents who were worried: Will you study ,study, or study?  When graduation time drew near, he encountered a life-long buddy: Rock. Moved by his braveness, purity, and persistence, he followed this buddy onto the road of music, and realised that music is connected with soul. He established the band Rust on the lip in 2003, which then got the present name, Low Wormwood, and became the lead singer. Every year he leads his band for a tour around China and has made several albums: The Absinthe, Low Wormwood, Upstream of Yellow River and We Can’t Help Kissing Each Other. He plays football during part time, meets friends and makes plans for art exhibitions. Cooperated with the Barn Gallery in Lanzhou, he held a modern art exhibition called ‘Replacement’ in 2007, in which his works ‘Sound field in Lanzhou’ and ‘Talk’ were displayed, together with the works of Wang Dong, a young artist. He also planned an art exhibition of sound and devices in 2009. He met Michael Pettis, boss of Maybe Mars, on his tour in Beijing during October 2008. Their ideas on music are unbelievably alike, so he then joined Maybe Mars and co-founded with Xiao He the folk music brand Maybe Horse under Maybe Mars. He published his first record 'Hey, Young Man' in 2010.

Hey, Young Man CD
Maybe Horse/Maybe Mars 2010

We Can't Help Kissing Each Other CD
Maybe Mars 2009

Five Fingers EP 2008

Upstream Of Yellow River 2008

Low Wormwood
Pocket Records 2007

Absinthe EP 2006

Low Wormwood on Facebook

Maybe Mars 2010

Traveler is a world music collective started by Wu Junde in 2008. Their style draws heavily from contemporary folk music from western China. In addition to Wu Junde himself, collaborators and members of Traveler are some of the most prominent artists in the domestic folk scene, including Zhang Zhi, Wen Feng, Chen Zhipeng, Zhu Fangqiong, Wan Xiaoli, Zhou Laoda, Zhou Shengjun, Wu Buli, Hugjiltu, Da Song, Wang Xiao, Xiao Zhou and others.

Their musical backgrounds are ample and quite diverse; lead singer Wu Junde played bass in Tongue, IZ, and Hanggai before founding Traveler; Zhang Zhi is an expert at guitar, dombura, bass and keyboard and plays various other instruments, was the lead singer and bassist for psychedelia band, and once organized 9 Songs Music Festival in Karamay, Xinjiang. In 2010, breakout performer Wen Feng received Los Angeles KAZN FM1300’s Best Drummer Award, and in the same year participated in the American Music Awards’ Ribbon of Hope ceremony. Da Song gave up his work as a fine arts teacher in favor of a nomadic musical lifestyle, allowing him to develop his interest in African drumming and to introduce this form to Lijiang, Yunnan.
Traveler’s sound synthesizes a wide range of genres and influences. With traditional styles as their starting points, they add the timbres of dombura, Mongolian sanxian, Xinjiang hand drum, and other distinctive folk instruments, producing an amalgamation of folk ballads, world music, Kazakhstani music, and Chinese classical music, to name just a few. The group’s releases include a self-titled album, “Traveler,” “Nikele” with Zhang Zhi; “Son of Dark Horse River” , with Wang Xiao; and “Far
Away”, with Xiao Zhou


Li Daiguo has carved out a niche within Mainland China that few others occupy, that of skilled improvisational artist (he has a reputation for leaving jaws on the floor, layman and critic alike), musical polymath (proficient at a dozen traditional instruments as well as a deft vocal gymnast) and dynamic live performer known for his eclectic collaborations with a rich roster of characters and ensembles, including transgressive Japanese butoh dancers, fellow all-star experimentalists and other lunatics that he meets when he is busking, an activity of which he is quite fond.
Music for Advertisements sees Li presenting a series of sonic advertisements for seven locations that the 32-year-old appreciated during his six years in Chengdu, the southwestern regional hotspot, creative hub and capital of the country’s infamous Sichuan Province.
Using instrumentation dominated by his signature pipa anderhu and accentuated by a lush arsenal that incorporates everything from the cello to artfully-placed beatboxing, Li skillfully brings the 2300-year-old city to life with this dynamic series of self-produced sonic snapshots characterized by sudden and drastic changes of emotion and instrumentation.
"Music for Advertisements is about emotions that I had and observed that were associated in my mind with things going on around Chengdu,” Li said. “Not necessarily big things or events, but just little things that you might notice and have a feeling about—like the way that traffic moves or the atmosphere in hospital hallways.”
Highlights include the chilling pipa-spiked “Green Ram Daoist Temple”; the austere beauty of “The ‘Beautiful Thai Girls’ Under the Old South Gate Bridge,” a brief cinematic sketch that uses layers of hypnotic strings to conjure images of the secretive nocturnes who congregate around the city’s ancient landmark, and “Chengdu Tuberculosis Hospital”, a jaunty, fiddle-fueled effort that spins a resonant tale of mortality within its ephemeral-yet-memorable running time.
With Li as the city’s unofficial composer, Chengdu has never sounded so good.
Li Daiguo makes music with the following instruments: pipananyin pipa, members of the huqin family (including the erhusihubanhu, and erxian), a variety of ethnic flutes (including the hulusikoudibawuxiao and the nanxiao, the Chinese predecessor of the better-known Japanese shakuhachi), the Zimbabwean mbira, violin, viola, cello, beatboxing and overtone singing.

Ivory Vinyl 7" - Genjing/Tenzenmen 2013