Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip-hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.
This one’s sure to clean out your earwax ahead of the weekend: Píng Zè, a dual composition by Beijing-based musicians Zhang Shouwang and Yan Yulong.
This is the first release from Maybe Noise, a label recently (re-)launched by Zhang and Yan with the additional input of multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Sheng Jie. The label is focused on contemporary composition, though the two core founders better known for their rock pedigree: Zhang for his indie band Carsick Cars and electronics-injected side project White+, and Yan for his band Chui Wan. Both artists (and all of the aforementioned projects) are associated with Beijing indie label Maybe Mars, which actually had a spinoff series called Maybe Noise several years back, but this reboot is unrelated. (Maybe Mars was bought by indie music company Taihe last year, but Maybe Noise in its current incarnation is unaffiliated with either.)
Píng Zè is appropriate as an inaugural release, as it represents a collaboration between Zhang and Yan that has been evolving at least since 2012, when they first played it live at that year’s Sally Can’t Dance festival. The duo has slowly worked out the finer points of the open-ended composition, which “can be performed on ‘unlimited’ instruments” according to the liner notes, repeating it at Sally Can’t Dance 2015 (I was a co-organizer of both festivals) and a handful of other performances before setting it down on wax.
Maybe Noise’s next release is a live album for Chui Wan, which the band recorded at an art museum in Beijing in 2016. Look for that to come out later this month, and follow the fledgling label’s Bandcamp for future dispatches from this particular laboratory of new sounds out of Beijing. If you’re feeling the album art for Píng Zè, also be sure to find your way back to RADII next week, when we’ll have an interview with its designer, Wu Qingyu.
Cover image: Zhang Shouwang and Yan Yulong perform at Beijing venue DDC (photo by Will Griffith/Live Beijing Music)
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