• Music

    Alfa Mist – Two For Mistake

    In honor of getting the chance to see the band this evening here in Beijing, I share with you a recent EP by London-based nu-jazz band Alfa Mist.  It turns out that they put on a hell of a performance to a packed crowd, mainly of locals.  It was one of the best shows I’ve been to in some time now.

  • Music

    巴亚宛 Bayawan – 麦盖提刀郎木卡姆乐队 Mekit Dolan Muqam Group

    巴亚宛 Bayawan are heavy psychedelic muqam music from Xinjiang.  From Old Heaven Books’ Bandcamp site: “”Bayawan” is the common name for Muqam music used by the Dolan people. Bayawan, or Dolan Muqam, is a unique form of folk music and one of the most important cultural heritages of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. Generally speaking, Muqam is a form of large-scale suites which include songs, dances, and instrumental sections, in which the development of music often features a significant degree of improvisation. The Muqam of the Uyghurs is characterized by its diversity of musical styles. Apart from the classical Twelve…

  • Music

    Li Yilei – Nonage

    Sometimes experimental music can produce either dour listening or tie itself to miserable cover art showing the worst of humanity in some sort of fetishistic way.  Not so with this release!  London-based Chinese composer Li Yilei’s album concentrates more of a happy, carefree childhood, where, as she puts it, “…learn[ed] about fear and fearlessness, love and despair, grief and glee, curiosity and mistakes.”  Sitting back and listening to this after hearing my own Chinese geography students caterwauling for nearly two hours is balm for the soul.  A gentle listen that deserves a more appropriate tag than “experimental,” as much as…

  • Music

    The Tapes – A Touch of Despair

    Though the ever-amazing Unexplained Sounds Group have an impeccable record when it comes to releases, this one has the feel of a diamond hidden in the mouth of a long-lost corpse.  It’s a gem that should have seen the light of day ages ago, and USG have made things right by publishing this long-forgotten release by The Tapes.  From the USG Bandcamp site: “”A Touch of Despair” dates back to 1986. It was recorded live on a standard 2-track cassette recorder, using a 4-channel Fostex mixer, the infamous echo unit, a Korg MS-20, and toy instruments like a plastic trumpet.…

  • Music

    Richard Bégin – Lavrador

    Richard Bégin‘s latest release is a truly beautiful headphone-worthy work published by Reverse Alignment Records.  From their Bandcamp site: “”Lavrador” is a Portuguese term signifying peasant, plowman, or cultivator. Additionally, it is the name of the explorer João Fernandes Lavrador, associated with Labrador, a continental region in eastern Canada. Despite having a population of fewer than 30,000 inhabitants over an expansive area of nearly 300,000 square kilometers, this polar and subarctic expanse in the North Atlantic captivates with its dreamlike landscapes, vastness, tranquility, and solitude. Inspired by this immense terrain and the lives of the solitary peasants and isolated communities…

  • Music

    Shahin Souri – Liminal Space

    Respect to Midira Records for publishing this work by Tehran-based composer Shahin Souri.  It is a most elegant take on ambient music.  There should be a better term for this, as the genre’s name is so badly abused these days, and this seems to transcend it.

  • Music

    Chiyomi Yamada – Gilyak Songs

    From Chiyomi Yamada’s Bandcamp site: “Piano songs by the Japanese composer Akira Ifukube (1914–2006), interpreted by , voice, and Reiko Yamada, piano. Ifukube, who also composed the theme song of “Godzilla”, wrote these magical pieces based on traditional songs from native tribes of northern Japan. The sound and style of this music are somewhere between western contemporary and eastern traditional music, creating a unique fusion of musical and aesthetic elements. The piano songs are complemented with an epic piece for classical guitar solo by Ifukube, played by the Dutch guitarist David van Ooijen.”