Archive for October, 2005

ADMIN: WordPress HD crashed!

Sorry if you can’t access Global Noise Online in the past few hours, there was a severe HD crash on WordPress‘s server end and this blog had been “reformatted” back to the default state – all the posts were lost. Luckily I have all of them backed up at the old GNO blog except for the latest one, which was (even more luckily) saved in my Gmail account’s Draft box, so it didn’t take too much time to restore them.


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1st large-scale sound installation in China?

A disclosure: the first-ever large-scale sound installation in the public domain of China is being realized in Guangzhou now.

I admit that I don’t have any statistical data to justify my use of the word “first-ever”, I hate what I call “No.1 Complex” of many Chinese curators: every time they try to organize a concert or festival, it’s always “first-ever”. However, I don’t see any evidence of large-scale sound installations’ existence in the public space of China before, and an architecture friend in Nanjing assured me that it’s reasonable to state that even without the adjective “large-scale”.

What I’m talking about is a project by the New York-based Chinese artist XU Bing(? 冰)and California musician/sound artist Hugh Livingston (who’s also a cellist of contemporary music), commissioned by the Times Group(时代集团)for a community they developed. Xu and Livingston have come to Guangzhou to examine the site in July and October, and are proposing a 24-channel sound system, to be built in the entrance aisle and garden. To be more precise, there are two museums/galleries (one designed by the almighty Rem Koolhaas) in the garden, and the landscape designer is going to build a bridge to link the two and a third one outside of the community, most of the speakers will be installed on the bridge, so when visitors are walking on it, the soundscape carefully designed by Livingston will be heard.

The installation was scheduled to be unveiled on Nov. 18, coincide with the opening of 2nd Guangzhou Triennial, of which it’s an off-site program. Now it seems very likely that all the construction/installation works won’t be done by then, and we may have to wait till the next year to see the work.

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Misc. New Releases

Steve Barker from The Wire sent in some news:

– Digital hardcore/Breakcore artist Sulumi (SUN Dawei,孙大?)’s new release is out on his own Shanshui Records.

v/a - Landscape 2
– Also from Shanshui, a new Landscape compliation is coming out with both Chinese and International artists including Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai). Check this page for tracklist, cover and other info.

Christiaan Virant - Radio Pyongyang
– Christiaan Virant from FM3 has an album titled “Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom” out on Sublime Frequencies.

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REVIEW – Musicacoustica 05 (by YAN Jun)

Below is my translation of YAN Jun‘s review of one performance in Musicacoustica 2005, Beijing. The original review (in Chinese) can be read here.

Went to the Performing Hall of Central Conservatory yesterday for Musicacoustica 2005, a full house of people with poor taste who always applauds on the wrong occasion – what an enthusiastic community we have for new music!

The first act was a trio of Peter Cusack (Guitar), Clive Bell (various custom-made woodwind novelties, like juxtaposing two ox horns side-by-side) and Nic Collins (trombone with effects and mute, and the sound was then routed to computer, he didn’t actually blow the thing but playing with feedback). There’re basically no music there, only little snippets of sounds crushing against each other. The 3 sounds were interwoven in an subtle way, sometimes intercepted by a period of silence. There were not much emotional energy involved, but it’s accurate and courteous, like some teacups was slowly raised to their lips as merely a “gesture”, and then let go and fell to the ground. Perfect yuppie model of British free improv.

It is the best part of the show.

Now it’s the turn of a big guy playing electric-violin – of course it’s being processed by computer. I was fascinated by his sound, which is an exaggeration of the instrument’s flexible and rich tone. The DSP was (within my expectation) well-designed and accurate.

And then we had a young kid playing manipulated recordings of the ocean.

I had a chat with Clive during the intermission, we missed each other in Waterland Kwanyin the other day. A shameless self-advertisement: Clive asked me if I’ve read The Wire, I said not yet. He said “don’t worry, it’s positive, I like that CD”. He was talking about Another 2 Comrades(?外两??志) + YAN Jun + Top Floor Circus(顶楼的马?团)‘s Shanghai live imporv album, which will be…available on the TFC live at Xinhaoyun Bar(新豪?)this Saturday.

The latter half of the performance started with a professor controlling the software he developed, while another guy was playing electric-bass for him – the two are more like demonstrators of the software.

A handsome fellow in flashy shirt presented his work which takes Chinese Kun Qu (Kun Opera) as the sound source, it’s a beautiful voice, but its appeal fades when compared to Dajuin Yao‘s Cinnabar Red Drizzle. The guy standing in front of the mixing console was so “pseudo-arty” in appearance that he caught my attention immediately: pigtail, baseball cap, over-sized waist bag, and a long wire hanging from his ear. He was so excited with those better-late-than-never beats and his body began to twist and shake. When all those brainless beats ceased, there was a low-frequency tone lasting about 15 seconds, the volume was so low that even with a full day’s hard work and restless thoughts you will still surrender to its soothing tenderness at once. My applause goes to this ending.

The final act was a duo of one white man and one Japanese lad (why don’t they call themselves FM6?). They had 2 long, narrow iron boxes in white which resembles those used by the mutton barbecue hawkers, the actual name of the novelty is “Double Harmonics Guitar”. The sound they made was as beautiful as Christiaan Virant‘s manipulation of Gu Qin (Chinese zither), but there were no effects filters involved, only the spontaneous harmonics resulted from painstaking calculation. The duo also has a metallic, colder edge attached to its sound, making the music kinda mathematical. Spaciness, blankness, lingering and silence – all those essence of Japanese cultural heritage were there. I was informed that some Conservatory students standing in the rear end were whistling and singing Chinese National Anthem at the sight of a Japanese musician on stage, how true it is that there are no frontiers for people’s hatred and misunderstanding! How can you be sure that Hideki TOJO(东?英机) hasn’t reincarnated into a Chinese Nationalist? And our government is more than happy to shift the too-hard-to-take responsibilities to right-wing activists, it’s a trick which is in line with our nature, namely “playing dirty”. Well, Universities are indeed a perfect place for brainwash.

The two guys later told me: we actually prefer playing in clubs, not a place like this. Hoo-ray, see you on Saturday.

(translated by Lawrence Li)

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Buddha Machine on sale @ Forced Exposure

YAN Jun reported that FM3‘s “Buddha Machine” (new edition) is now available at Forced Exposure,the mini-soundbox was distributed by Staalplaat, and here’s the introduction on their website:

“Fm3 is opening a new special series of Staalplaat. The Buddha Machine is a small soundbox made in China which comes with an integrated speaker, a volume control, mini jack-out and a switch to choose between nine different loops which are stored on a small chip and can be directly played by this mini soundsystem. A number of other artists will continue this series soon.”

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Waterland Kwanyin #20

Next Tuesday (Nov. 1) in Beijing at Waterland Kwanyin we’ll have Eugene Martynec from Toronto, who has been “involved in all facets of music making since late 1960s”, I’ll cut & paste the official bio of him:

…performed and recorded with pop groups Bobby Kris and the Imperials and The Kensington Market, where he develop an interest in record production. He studied electronic music, composition and orchestration with Dr. Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music where he received 2 scholarships to study electronic music (1970-1975). His interest in record production resulted in a Juno Award in 1981 for his work with Bruce Cockburn and pop group “Rough Trade”. He has produced over 40 record albums from 1969 to the present…His main interest now is performing live interactive electroacoustic music and the use of alternate controllers for music making.

Apart from that there will be performance by ZHOU Risheng from Taiyuan, Shanxi province and DDV from Belgium, and the usual collective improv of YAN Jun and friends. A couple of video works will be projected too.

When: 9:30pm, Nov. 1st
Where: “2 Kolegas” bar(“两个好朋??酒?), Qi Che Dian Ying Yuan (“Driver’s Cinema”), 1.5 km east of Yansha mall, Beijing.
Inquiry: +86.10.8196 4820, +86.135 5227 6845 (mobile)
Entrance: Free.

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CSA webzine

For those who can read Chinese, this is a not-to-be-missed webzine about Chinese sound art.

CSA(中国声音?线, PDF format)

It’s the endeavor by some of the key figures of the scene (sic, XU Cheng, etc.), the first (and so far only) issue features a long interview of Dajuin Yao, the most important driving force/entrepreneur of Chinese new music, a must-read Autechre interview translated from Japanese (originally published on the Japanese magazine FADE) by Taiwan sound artist Wolfenstein, tips on field-recording by WANG Changcun and Dajuin Yao, and LI Jianhong, Ronez’s account of their latest albums.

Well, if you don’t read Chinese, at least you can view the visual documents of some recent live performances in Shanghai and Hangzhou!

The design job was done by XU Cheng, who’s also a designer and is responsible for artworks of many Chinese experimental releases.

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