Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes – A Million Farewells – 13th November 2015

Cat #: 177TZM

When Xiao Zhong and Sharon Cee-Q found themselves in a room together for the very first time, they agreed on a guiding philosophy: “Let’s not make anything that’s going to last. If we’re together for just two shows, then that’s what it is.” Thus was born Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes. Since then, they’ve most certainly deviated some, but not much, really.

Over the course of a year and a half, the Shanghai-based musos who’d been involved (non collectively) in such lauded mainland acts as Pairs and Hua Jia Hu Wei, released their debut 7” here on Genjing, added journeyman bassist Sam Walsh and drummer Daniel Nagles to their lineup and have proceeded to lay down one of contemporary indie rock’s most exhilarating jam sessions gone right – a concise full-length chock-full of woolly, dreamy, delicate, white-knuckled shoegaze imbued modern hymns.

This autumn marks the official arrival of A Million Farewells, the band’s first long-player for Genjing Records. It is a miraculously dissonant, wonderfully immediate display of Tom & Kate at their mightiest; alive with the same wild chemistry and sense of possibility that made their first recordings so vital. With more time together than they’d ever had before (which wasn’t much), the band had found themselves confronted with ideal, yet quasi-foreign conditions. And they wouldn’t have had it any other way. Two-minute freakouts like “My Life is Over” share airspace with the meditative squall of “Sam’s Knife” and the guitar-born majesty of the title track. One can’t but notice the band’s intentionally one-off brand of being exactly who they are in a pop context; everything presumably captured in (something like) three takes or less in a bleak, quasi-nondescript studio someplace deep within the damp, scabulous scrawl of modern Shanghai.

“It’s a simple thing,” Xiao Zhang says of their approach. “Simple takes the worry out of it. But we’ve grown up and been through some shit in China. To get to this point you have to bust through a few walls. It’s easy to be new, and I think, in the end, this is what it is.”

When you put the aforementioned foursome in a room, it’s Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes.

And A Million Farewells truly is what it is – quite something: a classic quasi-Sinophilic full length if there ever was one. 

Chui Wan – 30th August 2015

Cat #: 176TZM

Three years after releasing their debut album, White Night, Chui Wan brings their sophomore, self-titled album into the world.

Over the last few years, Chui Wan has progressed with a new drummer, Li Zichao, while its core members — bassist Wu Qiong, guitarist Liu Xinyu, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Yan Yulong — have striven to perfect their musical ideas. On Chui Wan, the focus is less on the unbridled, reverb-drenched inflections of White Night, drawing more from the band’s wide palette of influences, including Sufi music, Southeast Asian folk tunes, and 20th-century avant grade composition. With confident, driving rhythm, they aim to embody a pop-influenced idiom of rock music, creating their own musical language in the process. Beyond the infectious melodic hooks on Chui Wan lies a near-constant fluctuation of beat and tempo, a deliberate maneuver calculated to create a simultaneous sense of fluidity and disjuncture.

Compared with White Night, Chui Wan’s sophomore album is structurally more complicated, yet simpler and more direct in its studio approach. It eschews White Night’s complex, repeated overdubs and adds more intricate lyrical work, which reflects the dynamic of calm and tension that stands out in Chui Wan’s live performances.

Chui Wan’s guest musicians also contribute significantly to the album’s distinct temperament. You can hear the trademark noise guitar wails of psychedelic free improv master Li Jianhong on the album’s closing track, “Beijing Is Sinking”. The album also contains a hidden gift: a remix of the second track, “Estivation”, by Dead J, one of Beijing’s most established and progressive electronic music producers. Dead J’s “Estivation” remix is a minimal, ambient, rhythmically more angular take on the original.

It is also worth mentioning that Chui Wan bassist Wu Qiong lends her vocal abilities to “On the Other Ocean” and “Silence”. Her voice adds rich choral accents to the album, a long-player already brazen in its Baroque sonic ornamentations.

Chui Wan was recorded and produced by Yang Fan. 

All songs written by Chui Wan, recorded in Beijing, in the winter of 2014.

Yan Yulong: vocals / guitar / violin / organ
Liu Xinyu: guitar / percussions
Wu Qiong: vocals / bass
Li Zichao: drums / celesta

Yang Fan / Li Qing: background vocals, “Only”
Li Jianhong: guitar, “Beijing is Sinking ”
Dead J: remix, “Estivation”

Recorded/mixed/produced by Yang Fan at Fan Fu Studios.
Mastered by Garrett Haines at Treelady Studios.
Cover art: Lv Junlin
Design: Ruan Qianrui

Chui Wan thanks everyone mentioned above, as well as: Josh Feola, Kai, CC Wang, Deng Chenglong, Liu Lu, Cao Lingfeng, Snapline, Yan Jun, Zhu Wenbo, Zhao Cong, Lu Wei, Li Ping, He Fan and Zhang Mengyao.

Primitive Calculators/Torturing Nurse – 16th March 2015

Cat #: 175TZM

Roland Barthes once said: “The ‘grain’ of the voice is not – or is not merely – its timbre; the signifiance it opens cannot better be defined, indeed, than by the very friction between the music and something else,” but who gives a shit? Torturing Nurse would sooner cough on you than speak to you, and they are most definitely not concerned with “music”, just the “some- thing else”. The “grain” here is the granular phlegm at the bottom of “vocalist” Junky’s throat, a choking, faltering reference to the body before the machine takes full control. For this music, you don’t need ears. You don’t even need a body, really. What would Barthes say about the grating grain of all voices at once? Music that’s been fed through the effect-chain meat grinder so many times it ceases to be readable as “music” and actually starts to sound like meat? Just GRIND, fine-ground, the last tiny pieces of humanity ebbing through the proverbial hourglass, grain by grain by grain. There’s no one left: just “Midnight, The Stars & You,” and the horrible, howling wind whipping rust particles through your pores until you’re more corroded metal than man.

Roland Barthes also said: “We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which…  more

PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS are
Frank Lovece – Vocals
Stuart Grant – Guitar / Vocals
Denise Hilton – Keyboards / Vocals
David Light – Bass
Andrea Blake – Rhythms / Vocals
additional vocals by Pocket Calculators featuring Grace, Velvet Sand (Siege-a & O-g-o), Fu and Stella Electrika

TORTURING NURSE is Junky – Noise

AV Okubo – Opium/Heroin – 3rd February 2015

Cat #: 174TZM

If you’ve never been to Wuhan, let me tell ya: it’s fucking BLEAK. China’s landlocked industrial boiler room, smelting the future from discarded harsh metal scraps of past failures. The heat’s so hot it’ll melt your will to live. Opiates help. Wuhan’s AV Okubo know this, they even soundtrack this. “Opium” is a re-purposed stereo-heater churned out like some retro-futuristic answer to the prayers you’ll be praying years from now, as the decline continues to decline. The voice of “Opium” is a voice out of time, a bi-gender mensch-machine crammed into a vintage Japanese vocoder, sampled and re-sampled til the original is forgotten in a self-medicated haze (while reclining, eyes open but not seeing, slackjaw dreaming). No clue what it’s saying (something about the Qing Dynasty GDP) — but the bottom line is: we’re all damned if it doesn’t ease the growing pains.

“Heroin,” meanwhile, sounds like the Sex Pistols telling Lou Reed to fuck off. Actually this B-side was originally supposed to be straight up Velvets cover but, as AVO vocalist Lu Di laments right off the bat, “the price is too high and I can’t afford it.” Wuhan bathtub meth it is, then. Again! Maybe E, LSD and some more weed, to chase. OK, good now. Let’s do this. Only bass line that comes to mind is ripped straight from Sid’s dead mitts but it’s a miracle we’re even standing up at this point so… Wuhan’s fucking hot. Need more ice. What’s next? The rest… “and the rest, I don’t wanna know.”
credits

Recorded at Busy Bee Studios in Beijing by Andy Gill and Santi Arribas
Mixed at The Beauchamp Building, London by Andy Gill and Santi Arribas
Mastered at The Mixing Factory in London

GR028
genjingrecords.com

Imported to Australia under license

Snapline – Paper General – 3rd February 2015

Cat #: 173TZM

Welcome to the future! Snapline dusts off one from the vaults, a new two-song slammer with material from the pre-Phenomena (2012), pre-Future Eyes (2011) times, created in their hearts & minds ca. 1982 for a series of never-aired infomercials canonizing China’s proud martial might and technological prowess.

Yes, though the band’s members had only just been born, they were already on the vanguard. This is the sound of disaffected technical university dropouts graduates with honors. This is what’s been in the water. “Paper General” blasts it off at march speed, written for the happiest army in human history. Tens of thousands of men and women standing, smiling like the technicolor postcard you once saw in a kitsch shop. Operators Li Qing and Li Weisi stack the kosmische filter sweeps and pure analog noise generators with Snapline’s trademark loose cohesion. You can almost hear their fingers at the switches! While the picture adjusts (it never quite does), Chen Xi barks the orders. “Turn your radar ON!” His voice is almost lost in the static. Which is the signal and which is the noise? “It could be thousands of ways / to say a word in different tones.”

Next stop: “Wasteland.” The path forward seems infinite but your trip lasts just over seven minutes. Scientific progress sounds like a rickety synthesizer shuttling too close to the sun. Even the control melts. The rhythm is vaporized. It never mattered. Return to earth and you no longer recognize what you once called home. Spin it, flip it, repeat.