Improvisation in Shanghai (VA)

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General Information

Artist: VA (Top Floor Circus/Yan Jun/The other two comrades)
Title: Improvisation in Shanghai
Release Date: 2005, January
Label: Kwanyin Records
Type: CDDA
No. (cata): kwanyin 002
Note: limited edition with 1000 copies, 2005, joint release with mule records label

Track Listing

  1. 11:49
  2. 19:12
  3. 14:14
  4. 05:45

About this album

former of underground legend ¡°the other two comrades¡±, ex-member of new folk hero ¡°wild children¡±, poet and music critic and new practicer, and shanghai experimental/psychodelic/folk/improvised band¡­ a perfect collaboration by 7 improvised musicians from different background, a musical trip which everybody got high and trance.


Shanghai's small but determined underground music scene revolves around the 2046 record shop. Kwanyin and Sub Jam are labels run by musician Yan Jun, and this live recording documents a concert organised by Yan Jun in june 2004 at the DDM Warehouse. Six musicians are joined by a seventh, M2, credited with "Telekinesis transmitted far from Germany".

Starting from a handful of kalimba loops and light-fingered hand drumming, the music darkens as electronic wind blasts and effected vocals are added. But halfway through the lengthy second track the gloves come off, and the two vocalists move from grim toying with their delays and effects to a bloodcurdling display of howls and screams. backed up by searing sinewaves and other nasty electronic textures. links to Shanghai's punk and metal scene suddenly became visible. The audience respond with some pretty fierce whooping of their own, and we might hazard a guess that the freedom embodied in this improvised music has a direct emotional relevance to the listeners. It sounds like there may be plenty at stake here.

Yan Jun himself plays iPod, minidisc and a mixer. Field recordings of Chinese singing, Tibetan monks and church bells mix with a live jaws harp, all effectively glued together by Chen Zhipeng's hand drums. Much of the electronics is static and restrained - I'm thinking Toshimaru Nakamura - till all hell breaks loose again, as deafening sirens and flickering glitches stampede to a final climax, again to the clear delight of the audience. This is music with a wide dynamic range and weird lack of inhibitions, and a fascinating glimpse into a still little known Chinese scene. ---- Clive Bell, the Wire (issue 260, October 2005)

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