Li-Jianhong - Drama Script (2pi)
Called by Zbigniew Karkowski the best noise musician in China, 31-year old Li-Jianhong has become a central cog in the blooming Shanghai/Hangzhou experimental scenes as both a sound artist and one of the most physical, gut-destroying axemen wielding a guitar west of Keiji Haino. Occassionally but not frequently enough we get hints of what is going on in the Chinese underground: Beijing duo FM3, creators of the now-famous Buddha Machine, have checked in with some glowing reports (and we're happy to report they listen to WFMU lots! Thanks guys!), and while the music isn't selling vast quantities outside of small circles, it is getting a reputation both home and in Europe, China, and the USA. A few years back Hong Kong-based Post Concrete Records issued a snapshot of the scene called China: The Sonic Avant-Garde, as well as amazing music from Dajuin Yao, and these days 2pi Records (run by Jianhong, site seems to be down) is flowing with strange sounds that reflect the explosive nature of their cultural/social surroundings. At times, his playing sounds like an entire field of crickets exploding one by one (Real Audio) other times it can be an all out physical assault (Real Audio) with no effects on the guitar whatsoever. Daring, visceral music, hopefully one day to be witnessed stateside. Here's some more info about other Chinese sound artists.
Solar Anus - Skull Alcoholic (tUMULt)
The entire 3 LP Gyokumon discography (elusive stateside) condensed onto a 2CD set from Japan's Solar Anus finally available. I don't know about you, but the name alone conjures up some pretty clear imagery of heavy, swirling, psychedelic doom and it's certainly evident in the sounds herein. Though I guess there are some other, err, interpretations, because when one types in solaranus.com, you get a girl in panties covered in colored Band-Aids, and instructions forthose over 18 to email for access to the page (I stopped there on a work computer), so needless to say it apparently it is not the band Solar Anus. But for the more musical Solar Anus, Hawkind, Sabbath, Flower Travellin' Band, the Melvins, Pink Floyd, and second-gen doomers like Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin etc. are prime sources of inspiration; there's also some brightly colored sounds ala Boredoms circa Super Are and Vision Creation Newsun, locking into similar trancedelic, yet more acidic bulldozer grooves. Sublime female voices sometimes hover around a grunting male counterpart, and again, while all these bands mentioned come to mind, there's something pretty original and unique about this all. Their earlier works definitely doom out a bit more, but I really dig the full-on psychedelic experience that becomes fully realized by the third album, and keep returning the later stuff most. "Skull Alcoholic" (Real Player).
Robert Marcel Lepage - Pee Wee et Moi (Ambiances Magnetiques)
Burr/Noriega/Speed - The Clarinets (Skirl)
Two releases of clarinet armies hit the WFMU new bin the same day: up first a Pee Wee Russell homages from Canada's Robert Marcel Lepage, who appropriates Russell's unconventional integration of European and Afro-American roots in a respectful way while not replicating the songs so much verbatim. Rather, Lepage allows his own voice to capture the spirit within while adding some extras to Pee Wee's playhouse; namely six other clarinetists joining in, and other musicians including a wonderful performance from Rene Lussier clanging away on some junkshop guitar to add a woozier slant to it all. There's definitely some hints of what Lol Coxhill has gotten up to as well from time to time on the other side of the Atlantic. Check out "Pee Wee fait des Archaïsmes, Moi je Fait des Anachronismes" (Real Audio) from Charlie's show.
Also in the multi-clarinet zone, a nice release from the fledgeling Skirl label out of Brooklyn. On The Clarinets, the trio of Oscar Noreiga, Chris Speed and Anthony Burr create some spontaneous sounds that have soaked in the vibe of the upstate New York church the recordings were made in. Though the relaxed textures and drones explored at times make this far from a background music experience, there are flurries of animated activity that get especially interesting when the clarinet becomes defined in light it is usually not seen in (like as a source of percussive sounds at one point). Harmonically there's great complementary interaction, and it's especially gratifying to see these guys continue the genre-bending they've been able to create in their other projects (Satoko Fuji, Pachora, etc) with a singular instrument. Here's hoping for even more greatness from this Speed-run label. Excerpt of Track 1 here (Real Audio) from Bill Mac's show.