Gig Recap: Li Jianhong, Yan Yulong x Sheng Jie (White Light.White Tower 2017.10.06)

Stopped by the new gallery space (and soon to be many other things) White Light-White Tower last week in Bataisi. While technically apart of Beijing International Design Week, the space is really just in its fetal stage, feeling out its neighborhood and getting a sense of what’s its capable of. And if the event I attended was any indication, music and art geeks alike may have a new hangout in Bataisi come next year. In many ways an extension of the Maybe Mars roster, the exhibitions on display were from Chairman Ca, Yang Fan, and Zhang Shouwang. Nothing ground breaking (especially for those familiar with their work) but cool nevertheless. The real meat of the event however were the performances. First up, guitar demi-god Li Jianhong, whose drone-heavy, shredful, gut-wailing brand of guitar improv is always a wonder to behold, gave a curling vengeful noise sacrifice to the guitar deity that felt right at home in the cement corner room adjacent to a construction site. Next up was a joint piece from avant-garde violists Yan Yulong and Sheng Jie entitled Oppose which found the two instrumentalists moving concurrently around a circle of music stands, while playing the notes printed on the sheets of paper on the stands. Pretty out there – contemporary sound researcher Edward Sanderson describes it better than I ever could: “As one performer moves to the next stand, the notes move to the adjacent semitone in a diatonic scale; the other performer must mirror their movement and also change their note, in a game of musical chairs and resonating sounds. The combination of sound and movement makes it impossible to focus solely on the sounds produced without taking into account the spatial dance that the performers are undertaking.” Fascinating, perplexing, and strangely hypnotic it was the cherry on top and a hell of a way to close up the gallery’s soft soft trail run opening. Can’t wait to see the place when it’s running on all cylinders.

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