Self-released under the home imprint Juxiang Music and later integrated to the catalog of Post-Concrète (as number 001), Dajuin Yao's Cinnabar Red Drizzle is a very good, fascinating album of electroacoustics. At the heart of each of the seven pieces reside literature, either oral (in the form of spoken mandarin) or written (the sounds of writing -- script and typing). The music develops a meta-discourse on the act of creating words while focusing on the musicality of mandarin, an engrossing paradox. Avant-garde poet/opera singer Jerlian Tsao provides the vocal matter. Her recitation and vocalizations are computer-processed and integrated to field recordings to create some brilliant works of musique concrète. Some pieces also call for instrumental input. "Cinnabar Red Drizzle" includes pipa (a Chinese lute), live computer and "real-time computer-generated poetry." The piece deconstructs the traditional language of the pipa the same way it does with mandarin, in a kaleidoscope of sounds that have a certain Cagean indeterminacy. "Endless Frustration" transforms a short recording from a traditional court music ensemble into an ambient piece that sounds like an endless stone hall. "Writing of Sounds of Writing" is the most ambitious piece of the set by its length (20 minutes) and concept, but it works less well, its various sections lacking in articulation. Here -- and only here -- language becomes a barrier as the Chinese-deaf listener misses what seems to be a crucial dimension of the work. The closing "Garden of Memories" is Dajuin Yao's crowning achievement, a mesmerizing piece of processed vocals, beautifully constructed. Cinnabar Red Drizzle goes beyond mere exoticism: it is equal parts Chinese and electroacoustic, finding a path that unify the two traditions.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture