photo by Tingtingviva
MP3 Monday is a weekly SmartBeijing column, serving up MP3s from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please email us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.
Just got back from one of them Mongolia visa jaunts, and the cold still hasn't left my bones. So I'm gonna blast y'all with some harsh vibes from down south to rattle things up a bit. This week we're graced with a visit from two young men operating under the charming monikers of noise666 and Blowjob Euthanasia. The terrible twosome, based in Shanghai and Hangzhou, respectively, will unload an unholy onslaught of power electronics, harsh noise, fucked up field recordings, and generally uncouth sonic de(con)struction on Thursday at XP. Assuming yr gonna skip that one, at least take a listen to what you'll be missing. It's cold but it's cool:
If you're not familiar with Harsh Noise… well, now you are. It's pretty self-explanatory as genre names go. It's a sub-genre of noise music, originally developed in the early '80s when people like William Bennett decided that "noise music" was becoming too institutionalized and signal-y. Harsh noise got some of its earliest elaborations from Japanese artists like Merzbow, Hijokaidan, and Incapacitants (a duo of a banker and a government official whose weekend pursuits involve getting smashed and torturing electronics) — spawning the sub-sub-genre Japanoise. See also: power electronics, harsh noise wall, pure noise, etc, etc. You get the idea.
The reigning champ of Chinese noise is Shanghai's Torturing Nurse, who will hit the decade mark in April. Here's one of their tunes:
On the level of "underground music," Torturing Nurse is arguably China's best known band abroad by virtue of sheer ubiquity. You can peruse TN's 207 (and counting) releases here.
There's not too much harsh noise in Beijing, besides the kind the government makes via the incessant march of progress. The kids here gravitate more to the cool, sunglass-heavy no wave stuff. Free improvisation is big among the more established musicians. But down south they're all about the HNW.
This is noise666, née DINGCHENCHEN, also based in Shanghai. noise666 is a recent college grad and NOIShanghai alumnus who started making abstract electronic snippets, bent-up 8-bit jams, and very minimal field recordings in 2009. Here's some of that:
In 2012, noise666 put out an album of sparse Shanghai soundscapes called DINGCHENCHEN under the name no_se666. An Italian guy named Gabriele — the self-serious "theorist" to my hagiographer — occasionally maintains a pretty great, if dense, blog called Chinoise and has this to say about it:
With DINGCHENCHEN, NO_SE666 (a moniker that works as a rite of passage removing the “I” from the old Noise666, towards the new DINGCHENCHEN) compiles a beautiful, sincere collection of sound diaries from a lived life – not China, not a cinematized Shanghai, not modernity, not the dreamworld of a vainglorious sound artist empowered by a MacBook – everything in this record is a fragment with no beginning and no end, an opaque surface enclosing a very specific field: someone’s daily existence, unwinding over vectors of transportation (A TRAIN, STREET, and TAXI TALKING), transcribed through the unconcerned recording of moments of lazy leisure (the nostalgic WAITING HALL, the beautiful SCHOOL GAMING or A GUITAR, which stands in stark opposition to the gargantuan and pretentious balcony-based guitar and laptop meditations recently released by Mind Fiber), and laid bare even in the details of the domestic fiddling with music and software (DJ COMPUTER) that short-circuit the very nature of field recordings, bringing music, technology and play back into the dreary tradition of naturalistic or urban idealizations: what happens when your field recording captures the silence of your gaze fixed on the LCD screen, the clicks of your mouse, the sound of mp3 house hits distorted by crappy speakers and fluctuating in the still air of your dorm room? The unexamined life, in CAPS LOCK, with love: deep listen this, if you care.
(Read the full screed and deep listen the album (if you care) here.)
Since that album, the artist formerly known as noise666 has been operating as DINGCHENCHEN, more or less sticking with a Harsh Noise Wall approach in which he starts off with various popular formats (Red marching tunes, Mall House) and spiritually related sub-genres (Depressive Black Metal) and subjects them to his personalized treatment of broken electronics and bad vibes. Examples:
DINGCHENCHEN (left) and Blowjob Euthanasia (right - photo by bopobovski)
DINGCHENCHEN's main peer is a Beijinger called Blowjob Euthanasia (yes). B.E. is currently attending university in Hangzhou. When he's not hittin' the books, he runs a net/CDR label called CHUI and releases records with titles like Burial Of An Ass and DONOTWAKEMEUPUNTILTHEFUCKINGENDOFTHEWORLD.
Here's some of his solo work:
DINGCHENCHEN and Blowjob Euthanasia also have a duo called XXSEXX. Here's a XXSEXX vid (safe for work, if not your ears):
Deng Chenglong (photo via Genjing)
One of the few people flying the harsh noise freak flag in Beijing is Deng Chenglong. You might know him as the mild-mannered technician behind the XP sound board, but when he gets a guitar in his hand he turns into 截尾 (Jiewei), which is essentially an evil, castrating version of Superman. On a somewhat related note: he played last night at School with Sabu Toyozumi, Li Zenghui, and Li Jianhong, and it was the craziest live set I've ever seen in Beijing. Chenglong kicked over everything in his orbit that wasn't bolted down (mic stands, stage barriers, humans), spit into the crowd repeatedly, beckoned equally insane people to join him on stage, and shot long, uncomfortable stares just to wordlessly say to anyone curious or demented enough to meet his gaze: "I would murder you right now if I didn't think it was actually more cruel to allow you to continue existing in this vortex of suffering we call life." Was great.
So yeah. Catch DINGCHENCHEN and blowjob euthanasia play with local sickos Outbeat Caff and Jiewei on Thursday at XP.