One of my most long-serving curatorial projects was ‘Fat Planet’ – a radio show and blog that ran from 2003 to 2008. The mission was simple – uncover new, alternative music from around the globe. Ignore the ‘western paradigm’ and dig around for non-traditional, contemporary, innovative music. Uncover the hitherto uncovered. At first I thought Africa would pose the greatest challenge, but in truth the hardest location to crack was China. Most of my research was carried out online, and – at the time – there was precious little posted online about Chinese music, at least nothing that could be uncovered without a roadmap or directions to follow. Thankfully, Shaun at Sydney label Tenzenmen proved to be something of a guiding light – exposing alternative Chinese music outside of its origins, providing us with a rare glimpse of the sounds that are actually stirring in the clubs, bars and bedrooms of one of the world’s oldest civilisations. When looking for curators for Discontent, for people that might provide a lifeline to something less ordinary, Shaun was top of the list. Stuart Buchanan
China – it’s the buzzword of the first decade of the 21st century. Back in the last century I started learning about Chinese history and culture and in 2001 embarked on my first trip there (no doubt many if you have done the same since). Quickly adapting the Chinese push and shove I was curious when I came across an article in an English language weekly newspaper that was documenting the very beginnings of the punk scene in Beijing. What the hell did punk mean in a place like this? I had no idea but armed with the scant information I went in search of these punks and couldn’t find anything. It’s easy to be lost in the many millions of inhabitants of Beijing and all I knew was the train station near where these kids hung out.
Back in Australia I continued learning and discovered many other music scenes around the whole Asia region and then finally made contact with a new group of musicians building a scene in Beijing and expanding throughout the country. Several more trips garnered visits to cool venues and hearing some great new sounds. So impressed I began licensing releases for Australia through my label tenzenmen (www.tenzenmen.com). But that is not what this mix tape is really about. For this mix tape I challenged myself to find the new fresh bands, the second wave as such.
China has it’s own equivalent of myspace called Douban (www.douban.com) as well as a Chinese only myspace (www.myspace.cn). Even without understanding the language it’s fairly simple to click around these sites and discover the motherlode of music you never heard before. I had a few pointers of things to look for and gathered the results here for this mix tape. It’s a wide and varied mix, expressing my own interest in different genres and highlighting the diversity of sounds coming from the underground there (we could probably consider even popular artists in China as still underground).
You can find all the tracks here at the various sites mentioned above and also keep up to date with news and info from China via various links at the tenzenmen website or ‘the MAYBE MARS series’ facebook fan page.
01 – Low Wormwood (Di Ku Ai) – Who – 5.11
02 – The Curry Soap – Little Northern Europe – 4.18
03 – Godot – No 4 – 6.26
04 – Demmy – Will You Remember Me Tomorrow – 6.42
05 – 21 Grams – 21 Grams – 7.58
06 – 8 Eye Spy – Live – 2.10
07 – Cover People – Trip To… – 3.07
08 – Snapline – Nice Dream – 3.11
09 – White – 47 Rockets (For Wan Hu) – 5.10
10 – Little Nature – Different World – 3.00
11 – Sonnet – A Nice Song – 3.10
12 – I.D.H. – Final Trial – 3.53
13 – Boys Climbing Ropes – Dirty Bots – 4.35
14 – Lava Ox Sea – Regnarts! Yeh – 6.15
15 – 24 Hours – Mr Stevenson (with Train) – 3.24
16 – You Mei You – All Talk No Action – 1.36
17 – Mortal Fools – Drink! Drink! Drink! – 2.04
18 – Muscle Snog – Think and Shit – 3.48
19 – Fanzui Xiangfa – Kill Your Television – 1.04
20 – The Curry Soap – You Keep Everything But His Heart – 1.06
21 – D!O!D!O!D! – A02 – .53
img: Steve Webel