Broadcasting Time: 2006-09-17
Hello and welcome to this edition of China Beat on China Radio International. Our show always tries to introduce you to the most interesting and promising music scenes now developing in China. And, today is no exception, as we'll focus on several post-rock bands from across the country.
We've already introduced three Chinese post-rock veteran bands in one of our shows. They were Godot from Shanghai, The Unknown Band, or simply Wang Wen from the coastal city of Dalian, and Taiwan post-rock pioneer Sugar Plant Ferry. Today let's continue with more stories of this musical circuit making its way throughout China. But before that, let's take a quick look at the post-rock genre itself.
The term post-rock refers to the dominant form of experimental rock found in the 1990s. It mainly describes music that uses rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes. Guitars are facilitators of timbres and textures rather than riffs and power chords. In other words, post-rock musicians make use of old instruments along with electronic devices to achieve brand new sounds and arrangements. Another distinguished characteristic of post-rock music is that it is usually instrumental. Even if it does employ vocals, the vocals are often incidental to the overall effect.
Anyways, definitions can only describe the sound. They can never be as powerful as hearing the music itself. So now let's welcome today's first post-rock band, Spiral Cow, with their song "Your Words Were the Trigger."
The first song of today's China Beat is "Your Words Were the Trigger," triggering our entry into the world of post-rock sound. The band Spiral Cow is from Dalian. It's actually a side project of rocker Xie Yugang, the lead man from the band Wang Wen we mentioned before. It's said that the band was started by a complete maniac for music, American Derrick Fore, who came to China and began his musical pursuits in Dalian. The band Spiral Cow puts a lot of force and variations into their music, which gives them a unique edge. Here is their song "Urgent Endeavor."
Now, after Spiral Cow, let's welcome another post-rock band from Dalian. It's Van Gogh, named since most of the band members do art or design as their day jobs. But, compared with the passion contained in the real Van Gogh's paintings, the band Van Gogh's music aims to present the beauty more implicit to traditional China. Coming up now is one of their songs "Kaffir Lily." This song's name more or less reveals the band's inextricable fascination with Chinese culture.
When I first heard that the band's lead man Liu Peng started making music in the grunge style, I was pretty surprised, since the songs of his current band are so soothing and serene. Some might say that Van Gogh's songs are not typical post-rock. The band itself says it doesn't want to be branded a post-rock band. What they enjoy most about making music in this genre is that they can paint pictures with musical notes, and get lost in the imaginary world they can create themselves.
The band Van Gogh has almost quit playing live shows now because of its current lack of members. Most of the band's songs are composed and arranged by its headman Liu Peng.
Here comes the song "Ke Zhou Qiu Jian," which literally means "to make a notch on the side of a moving boat to indicate where one's sword has dropped." It really means that a pig-headed person won't react differently to altered circumstances. And here goes the song.
That's the song Ke Zhou Qiu Jian. And with that, we travel to Shanghai to listen to an up-and-coming post-rock band now gaining momentum in the city, 21 Grams. The band's name is the same as the title of the film 21 Grams by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. As film lovers, 21 Grams endeavors to apply visual layers onto their music. According to them, with a figure and its measurement as their name, 21 Grams seeks to be both emotional and practical in writing their music.
Formed in the summer of 2004 with five band members, 21 Grams makes use of both instruments and electronic effects for their sound. Here comes their song, of the same name as the band itself.
That piece is the namesake of the post-rock band 21 Grams. The band says some of their songs still reveal their references to the current post-rock giants. Rather than striving to become giants themselves, to them making music as a hobby is already a really great experience.