Riding high with these more than stellar May Day releases. So much goodness to dig into so let\’s get right into it and take a look at the latest from garage funk rock duo Luv Plastik, psychedelic trope Chui Wan, classically-trainer offbeat poet Wu Wei, and up and coming Xinjiang folk artist Hua Zhou.
There’s some beautiful mischief going on in psychedelic trope Chui Wan’s wonderful and intoxicating new album, their second, self-titled Chui Wan. Cause while their debut White Night, released three years ago, promised a new exotic sound emerging in Beijing’s rock scene, it in no way could prepare any one for the unequivocal allure and groove of this monster. It’s straight hypnotic – using an array of influences – from ‘southeast Asian folk tunes’, ‘sufi music’, and ‘20th century avant-grade composition’, there’s a focus and precision in the way each songs rolls onto itself. From the punched up lyrical content, which utilizes bassist Wu Qiong’s gorgeously elusive voice in ‘On the Other Ocean’ and ‘Silence’, to the contagious disco-breakdown of ‘Vision’ and ‘Beijing Is Sinking’, the album masterfully captures both delicacy and mayhem in their lavish arrangements. It a psychedelic’s playground – get lost over on their bandcamp and be sure to pick a physical copy in early June when the band returns from their North American tour. Maybe Mars is three for three in my book this year – keep em’ coming!
Mark my words – Wu Wei will be a name to be reckoned with. The young singer-songwriter out of Changsha is breaking new ground with her experimental approach that’s slowly gaining her much attention despite its very nonstream appeal. Familiar and strange all at once, the poetry literature junkie turns melodies on themselves creating a fairy-tale like atmosphere that reveals a distinct and rich antiquity. Improvisational, jazz, rock, folk – I’m not entirely sure normal musical styles adhere to Wu Wei. There’s a theatric quality to her latest album entitled Mr. Wu Wei, both in the way the album is broken into five parts and in the presentation of each song. It’s a performance piece, augmented with some highly lush instrumental compositions, and a musical theorist’s topsy-turvy approach to language. It’s a strange beast, one I think will stick with folks lucky enough to come across it. Get your freak on over here.
Only one year and a half after forming, bass drums duo Luv Plastik, the dirty skivvy union of wiry schizoid lovechild of David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Dan Taylor, and the grizzled Barry White crossed with Fozzie Bear charmer Dan Lenk, are ready to play with the big boys. And if their debut EP, Electric Fantastic, off of Ran Music, is any indicator, they might just have a shot. Five tracks of high-octane, carnivalesque garage rock packed to the gills with everything – electric bass riffs, funk breakdowns, frenetic cat calling, swampy interludes, balletic melodies and a punk attitude that demands your attention. It\’s downright abrasive in its pursuit to shake your ass loose. And while the over zealous production too often soothes over the grit and spit that is most common at the duo\’s live outings, their infectious outpouring of id is kept firmly intact. It’s a shot of pure rock and roll injected straight to the temple. Whip it up at your next house party here (and here), and keep an eye out next week for the physical release.
With D Force Records, douban makes the jump to becoming a bonafide label, producing and distributing original content. One of the first artists they have brought under their wing is 90s generation folk singer Hua Zhou, whose unique, foul mouthed yet oh so sweet, brand of folk music has generated quite the fanbase. She recently released her debut, Joy at First Sight, and it’s showcases the singer-songwriter’s talents for composing charmingly realized vignettes that any young hormone-stricken person could relate to. There’s a bare honesty and modesty to her songs that’s all too rare in folk music nowadays. And while her debut doesn’t quite have the spunk of her earlier work, there’s a soft-spoken restraint and angst that sneaks up on you over the course of the album. The perfect rainy day album – give it a spin here and here. You can also listen to Hua Zhou’s newest EP Old Chinese which features studio version of two of the singer’s earliest (and feisty) singles, which she’ll release physically this Saturday, May 9th at Mako Livehouse.