Zbigniew Karkowski

China: The Sonic Avant-Garde

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The double-CD compilation album China: The Sonic Avant-Garde brushes a picture of experimental electronica/sound art in mainland China at the beginning of the third millennium. The scope is wide, encompassing sound cutups, musique concrete, and software clicks + cuts, but this variety is well-contained in an intelligent track list that manages to combine an alphabetical order with an interesting listening curve. Field recordings by the China Sound Unit (project compiler Dajün Yao and Ruyi Li) have been inserted whenever extra articulation was needed. Each disc clocks in at a little over one hour, which keeps proceedings from getting tiresome. Every artist gets more than one track to shine, but disc one begins with a quick look around the biggest names. Wang Changcun, Fu Yü, and Zhou Pei first contribute one track each to kick things off. Fu Yü's "Fish Cooking" suite stands out thanks to its nutty collage flavor. There are five cuts off the first CD by ISMU (or Intelligent Shangai Mono University), an impressive sound art collective. The two pieces by the young Xü Cheng (only 23 when this album came out), assembled from sounds recorded in his home, provide another highlight. If Hu Mage's cutups sound a bit crude, they convey a bombastic energy akin to Ground Zero in their prime. Zhong Minjie's aural assaults and Zhang Jüngang's lovely ambient piece, "X-rate" (sequenced right after Minjie's, thank you very much), also stand out. At the time, most of these artists were still trying to be heard outside of China. In a large proportion, these tracks are previously unreleased and represent the top of the pile. If one should size up the country's young generation of avant-garde electronicians by this comp, well, there are a lot of diamonds to be dug up over there.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:33
2
feat: Haiqing Jia
2:43
3
feat: Pei Zhou
3:37
4 4:09
5 3:04
6 1:15
7 1:46
8 3:11
9 2:43
10
7:43
11
6:53
12 3:08
13
feat: Pei Zhou
1:31
14
feat: Pei Zhou
2:18
15
feat: Pei Zhou
4:38
16 1:45
17
7:24
18
1:36
19
0:59
20
feat: Mage Hu
7:22
21
feat: Mage Hu
1:13
22
5:12
23
8:50
24 1:01
25 3:12
26 3:11
27 4:02
28 2:01
29 3:33
30
feat: Minjie Zhong
2:34
31
feat: Minjie Zhong
9:06
32
4:37
33 3:59
blue highlight denotes track pick