07 June, 2013

P.K. 14, After Argument, Blonde Eskimos

P.K. 14, often described as China’s most influential band, plays a blend of straight-up punk dosed with a sensible hit of experi-rock play. They’ve been affectionately described as “Sonic Youth meets Gang of Four in China,” or, more succinctly, Nation of Ulysses singing in Mandarin. They play aggressive, steady guitar parts backed by equally tight drums with half-sung, half-screamed vocals cutting through the rest of the noise. P.K. 14’s lyrics, written by part-time poet and lead vocalist Yang Haisong, are sung in Mandarin and often address China’s disaffected youth.P.K. 14’s acronymic name has at various times stood for Public Kingdom for Teens, Pent Kilowatt One More Than Thirteen, Pelikan Kraut Seven Times Two and Psycho Killer Two Less Than Sixteen. Like their name, P.K. 14’s line up has changed considerably since their formation in 1997 with Haisong remaining the only stable member. In nearly 15 years, the band has become the “elder statesmen of the Beijing rock scene.” Despite their reputation at home, P.K. 14 are only beginning to make serious waves abroad. With an inaugural New York City show in 2009, P.K. 14 tested the US waters, finding waves of fans more than ready for their alt-punk onslaught.

'Music For An Exhibition' 
Double Vinyl LP
Maybe Mars 2015


Music for an Exhibition is a live document best written about as a static image. P.K.14, the foundational inspiration for an entire genealogical branch of Chinese art rockers, were invited by artist Sun Qiuchen to perform at UCCA, Beijing's most renowned contemporary art institution. Though P.K.14 had played every kind of space China had to offer over their 15+ years as a band, this was nevertheless a frontier for them, a new challenge. 

Shrouded behind a floor-to-ceiling white cloth trypophilically overcrowded with bone-dry cicada carapaces — Sun Qiuchen's off-putting installation — P.K.14 played an improvised live set for the first time in their career. Eschewing their deep discography, P.K.14 assembled a loose collective with the explicit goal of making a live album, enlisting Alpine Decline to contribute modular synth space-scapes and Beijing experimental music scene stalwart Zhu Wenbo to alternately wail single-note drones on clarinet, sax, and circuit-bent noise toys. 

One take, live, no overdubs, Music for an Exhibition is a free fall, a slow dive into the dark hearts of Beijing's most progressive rock experimentalists. It's ambiguously divided into four sections, loosely based on the Chinese idiom "金蝉脱壳". Literally: the cicada sheds its shell. Imagistically: the real thing is gone, but the husk remains. 

Music for an Exhibition is a metonymic escape plan, an over-saturation of sound relieving the anxieties inherent in contemporary life, sheathed as it is in the empty shells of brand identity and the gauzy, religious shroud of finance. "It's about our world," says P.K.14 vocalist Yang Haisong. 

The exhibition is gone, those thousands of carapaces reverted to the dust from which they came. But the music remains. 

金 Kim 

禅 Zen 

壳 Shell

托 Trotsky 

Maybe Mars 2013 

P.K.14's “1984”, a dangerous album "1984" is P.K.14’s follow-up to "City Weather Sailing" and comes after a five-year hiatus. The name of the album was inspired by "1984", The dystopian political fable and the final novel by English writer George Orwell (1903-1950). Most of Orwell’s works have a vitality that hasonly grown stronger over time. Likewise, P.K.14's music also has anastonishing, enduring vitality that prompts the listener to think and come to his or her senses. The band’s fifth studio album, "1984" was recorded in October 2012 at Electrical Audio in Chicago with the help of legendary American producer Steve Albini, whose previous collaborations include Nirvana, The Pixies, Cheap Trick and P.J. Harvey. All tracks were mixed in Sweden by producer Henrik Oja, who also worked on P.K.14’s first three albums. In a departure from their usual recording process, for this album the band first went to Sweden to rehearse for a week with Oja, who worked a lot on the guitar and harpsichord. Together they put the final touches to the beautifully crafted sound that has now become P.K.14’s trademark. As with Orwell’s novel, "1984" is a spotlight in the dark, with songwriter Yang Haisong’s haunting and subtly satirical lyrics speaking of a harsh reality. Yang Haisong’s powerful and poetic texts – and subtexts – hold a mirror up to the world and warn of a life lived in "1984", where just having a thought can be a very dangerous thing. If that day arrives,at least we know The Public Kingdom For Teens will be in our corner, singing a war cry.

Free Download of a recent show featuring songs from the forthcoming album 1984!

Read this informative interview with Yang Haisong here

"Loud, raw and searching – theirs is the sound of modern China" — ..TIME Magazine 

"SPIN's 50 Must-Hear Bands at SXSW 2010" — ..SPIN......

"P.K.14 may sing in Chinese, but their pared down sound, energy and DIY passion need no translation. They are a band whose sound reflects their audience, one that has more in common with The Meat Puppets than Mao." — ..ArtRocker...... 

"P.K.14, for all its lyrical depth, creates an overwhelming barrage of beautiful postpunk chaos. " — ..Time Out, New York......

"P.K.14, more than any other band, set the stage for the Beijing musical explosion." — ..Brooklyn Vegan...... 

"Prim and serious as Joy Division. They ply a jittery, glowering, tersely crafted sound." — ..Village Voice...... 

"P.K.14, who sound like The Fall fed on fried rice represent Chinese youth culture finding a voice of its own. It all marks a Red Revolution that's worthy of real celebration." — ..NME......

"P.K.14 kicked off Beijing's rotten generation" — ..Dazed & Confused......

"Unlike other explosive punk rockers, they are four literati playing poetic punks" — ..Channel V...... 

"It was the first time that I'd seen a Chinese band really own a main stage. It was a bit of a watershed." — ..Shanghailist...... 

A Tour Of The Public Kingdom DVD 2007

Upstairs, Turn Left Empty Egg Records 2001

Rot It Empty Egg Records 2000

P.K. 14 on Facebook #1
P.K. 14 on Facebook #2

White Shirt  
Share The Obstacles
LP/CD 2015
Vinyl LP/CD


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This Is Not Your Game
 Genjing 2014

Furs Of Time LP/CD
Share The Obstacles 2013