The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #64 – Goodbye Buffoons – 14th November 2020

Say goodbye to your buffoons in power.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Highly curated, carefully selected and specifically ordered* for your listening edification by world-renowned DJtenzenmen, who has over 1 year of experience in this business.

This week there’s music from beNt, The Incredible String Band, One Step Shift, Poison Idea, Hoover, Voivod, Redness, MDK, 5uus, Pee, Big Black, Estradasphere, Modds, Bl’ast, Love, Countdown to Putsch, Septic Death and NWA.

Intro and background music by Utotem, Phantom Tollbooth, Daniel Striped Tiger and someone else I forgot.
Incidentals taken from the Church of the Sub Genius Hour of Slack.

Find us on Twitter and Facebook too. Tell us if you like it, tell us if you don’t.
Listen right here or Mixcloud, Stitcher, Apple, Amazon…..all those cool places I guess.
* ie totally random.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #57 – 26th September 2020

Highly curated, carefully selected and specifically ordered for your listening edification by world-renowned DJtenzenmen, who has over 50 years of experience in this business.

This week there’s music from Flower Travellin’ Band, The Spy From Cairo, Autechre, Incredible String Band, Delmonas 5, Eat Avery’s Bones, Bukkake Moms, Et Cetera, Montreal, Present, The Hold Steady and The Dismemberment Plan.

Intro and background music by Utotem.
Incidentals taken from the Church of the Sub Genius Hour of Slack.

PLAY IT LOUD!

Find us on Twitter and Facebook too. Tell us if you like it, tell us if you don’t.
Listen right here on Podbean or Mixcloud, Stitcher, Apple, Amazon…..all those cool places I guess.

26th Sept 2021 – It feels like nothing much has happened in the intervening year but it also feels like doing the podcast was more than a year ago. I have discovered much more new music to enjoy in the last 12 months but find myself reading books more often these days and I don’t have the brain power to do both at the same time anymore.

Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing – Eeling – 12th March 2013

Cat #: 138TZM

Try as you might to sum up Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing accurately, the sheer range in dynamics makes the group difficult to pigeonhole; at times post-punk, at other times experimental, even moments of folk. Eeling in every sense evokes the sentiments that this is something unique – not just in regards to its chosen physical release format.

“… an album of new discoveries upon each wonderfully harrowing listen” – Cheese On Toast

Recorded by S. Huf and J. Hobbs
Mixed by S. Huf
Mastered S.Huf

Xiao He – Silly’s Ballad – 19th July 2012

Cat #: 100TZM

It’s been 2 years since Xiao He’s bizarre double CD “The Performance Of identity” (2010) was released thru tenzenmen as catalogue number 050TZM, marking a half-century of releases for the label. As one of the most important avant-garde artists in China, his astonishing creativity doesn’t change or vanish with the passing of time, instead he becomes more distinctive and interesting. He keeps on playing his solo symphonies and “universal experimental folk”, which has gained him much appreciation and a glowing reputation. Xiao He and his songs have been to dozens of countries and whilst performing last autumn he jumped off the stage and broke his feet! This new album, Silly’s Ballad, was created while he was instructed to rest at home by doctors, with his feet set in heavy casts. Xiao He wrote all 12 songs with an acoustic guitar, he even recorded them while in bed and on the couch. The new album overflows with beautiful melodies and classic folk arias.

He writes of the album, “While I was recording [the songs], cicadas were tweeting, and sometimes even a plane passed by. I tried to record without any external sounds before by thickening the walls of my studio, but at the same time I was isolating beautiful things outside.” So, when Xiao He returned to write love songs again, he was inspired by diverse colours and sounds. Besides the self-deprecating title, natural feelings hide in every sentence of the lyrics, reflecting Xiao He’s wisdom and philosophy. The use of narrative poems throughout the album helps Xiao He express his mystical world in sounds and words.

More to the point, this being catalogue number 100TZM, marking the full century for tenzenmen, this folk album will be released in a very special and limited format: not on CD, tape or vinyl, but as a ‘musical artbook’. It is perhaps the first of its kind. This multimedia truly enables Xiao He’s creativity better expression. The artbook contains 12 different pictures of leaves, drawn by Xiao He in Zurich in 2010. Those leaves lay scattered on the mountain road Xiao He walked along every morning to exercise. The 12 songs correspond to 12 different leaves. High-end headphone brand 233621 has generously provided specialized custom-made headphones for this ‘album’. Furthermore, this musical artbook also includes three music videos that were commissioned to three up-and-coming and very talented directors: Yu Liwei, Yang Jin and Zhang Yuedong.

Xiao He expressed his wishes for the artbook: “I hope this album will become the glorious road along which a silly person is looking for another silly person.” 

Low Wormwood – Lanzhou Lanzhou – 8th July 2012

Cat #: 098TZM

The cliché goes that some geographical areas are synonymous with certain sounds: Merseybeat from Liverpool, for example, or grunge from Seattle. But it’s also the case that certain bands define their locales. Here, one tends to think of such acts as Arcade Fire, who did just that for Montreal with Funeral and The Suburbs. Such is the case with Low Wormwood, whose latest album, Lanzhou Lanzhou (their second licensed to tenzenmen) is perhaps a defining moment for both the band and the city of the title.

Unlike many bands from Lanzhou, this quartet don’t practise harmony- driven guitar folk. The metrics of this album depart from their early grunge and shoot for a less fiery but more coherent structure, coupling string-soaked flourishes of folk-rock with mundane lyrics about day-to-day living in Lanzhou. It borders on being a concept album, but the catchy rhythms manage to dilute the anthropological solemnity and make this something special.

‘Recording this album is almost like being in a relationship,’ explains lead singer Liu Kun. ‘When you love each other, it really burns. When you hate each other… well, it also burns.’

Various disguises are regrettable but necessary – 26th February 2012

Sunday, February 26: Jura Books, Petersham – Lenin Lennon, Wells, Union Pacific, Zounds, Palisades

Jura Books is a long running anarchist bookstore and library almost directly opposite the Bald Faced Stag and just a couple of doors down from the Clarence Hotel. Both hotels have live music, although I’m not sure what styles are entertained at the Clarence as I’ve never come across any bands I know in Sydney that may have played there. A block away from these pubs there’s also the Petersham Hotel which used to be a bastion of the Sydney music scene about 15 years ago, I don’t think they have any live music these days though. It’s certainly an easy area to find a drink if you want one though.

Jura Books is pretty much a converted house and offers no competition to the hotels. The downstairs is a small shopfront whist the upstairs is a small library. Emphasis is on small here. The space is made available to host shows, talks and potentially other suggestions can be brought to the table too. Obviously the space has a huge political slant but there is no overt influence cast over a show beyond the fact that it being an intimate setup and a shop where “fuck-wittery” will not be tolerated.

Today’s show was an amalgam of two lots of traveling bands looking for a space to play in Sydney. Main organiser Mitzi, who rarely organises shows at all, knew that it would be easy to pull something together quickly utilising the small community of friends in and around Jura, and after a few phone calls, a Facebook event was created and it was on. Having her own PA for use, all that was needed was to organise some drum and amp sharing. Easy!

Ben is currently the event co-ordinator for Jura and as a musician himself he’s come to prefer the more intimate shows that spaces like this can provide. He also feels there is more direct participation from bands wanting to use the venue (i.e. bands may organise everything themselves from equipment and line ups to promotion and food options). Once the show is happening the intimacy provided by the cramped space is often accentuated by the fact that you can be sure that everyone in the room is a friend of a friend or perhaps once more removed at most. This makes for a comfortable setting and also provides the opportunity to easily make new friends.

All of the artists playing today confirmed the preference for intimacy and the comfort it provided even for interstate bands who may know no one at the stage of their set and make firm friendships by the end of the night. Teo from Palisades sometimes hosts shows in his house back in Melbourne and understands and appreciates the effort that goes into such events, including the shitty end of the deal cleaning up the following day, but also the highlights of the freedom and self regulation that goes on. There’s no requirement for hired security and money is not a prime factor in these type of events. Today’s show had a sliding scale donation entry of 5 to 10 dollars and those too poor to pay at all are often welcomed too. It’s easy enough to soak up the atmosphere from downstairs or outside anyway and today two acoustic acts jumped on the bill and played between the main bands up in the library.

Sunday afternoon shows can be a lazy affair and despite some of the high energy music on offer they were brief bursts of energy amongst friends that brought smiles to our faces and pleasure to our ears.


Zounds


Lenin Lennon


Palisades


The Union Pacific

Whilst it’s obvious through the writing of this piece, and well established by those that know me, I am immersed in this scene and these spaces. It’s a special occasion for me to venture to a regular bar venue and as a consumer at those events I can enjoy myself immensely. But I still leave them without caring about the venue in any shape or form. If it closed down the following week I would unlikely be affected.

Sydney, and everywhere else, has other options. Currently these places are mostly inhabited by the punk and alternative music scenes but they are all open to anyone; anyone with a shred of organisational skills could put something together and likely be welcomed as they diversify the range of events and broaden their audiences. When people cry about the death of a music scene in a city I believe they haven’t yet fully explored all the options available to them and despite the naysayers the Sydney scene is very much alive and well.

29th Apr 2021 – Originally published at Polaroids of Androids – also see entries for 24th and 25th of February.

Travellers – Traveller – 23rd September 2011

Cat #: 074TZM

Traveller is a world music collective started by Wu Junde in 2008. Their style draws heavily from contemporary folk music from western China. In addition to Wu Junde himself, collaborators and members of Traveler are some of the most prominent artists in the domestic folk scene, including Zhang Zhi, Wen Feng, Chen Zhipeng, Zhu Fangqiong, Wan Xiaoli, Zhou Laoda, Zhou Shengjun, Wu Buli, Hugjiltu, Da Song, Wang Xiao, Xiao Zhou and others. 

Their musical backgrounds are ample and quite diverse; lead singer Wu Junde played bass in Tongue, IZ, and Hanggai before founding Traveler; Zhang Zhi is an expert at guitar, dombura, bass and keyboard and plays various other instruments, was the lead singer and bassist for psychedelia band, and once organized 9 Songs Music Festival in Karamay, Xinjiang. In 2010, breakout performer Wen Feng received Los Angeles KAZN FM1300’s Best Drummer Award, and in the same year participated in the American Music Awards’ Ribbon of Hope ceremony. Da Song gave up his work as a fine arts teacher in favor of a nomadic musical lifestyle, allowing him to develop his interest in African drumming and to introduce this form to Lijiang, Yunnan. 

Traveller’s sound synthesizes a wide range of genres and influences. With traditional styles as their starting points, they add the timbres of dombura, Mongolian sanxian, Xinjiang hand drum, and other distinctive folk instruments, producing an amalgamation of folk ballads, world music, Kazakhstani music, and Chinese classical music, to name just a few. The group’s releases include a self-titled album, “Traveler,” “Nikele” with Zhang Zhi; “Son of Dark Horse River” , with Wang Xiao; and “Far Away”, with Xiao Zhou. 

The Performance of Identity​ and One Man’s Orchestra – 1st March 2011

Cat #: 050TZM

He Guoheng, known in the world of music as Xiao He, is one of the most creative and influential artists in the Beijing music scene. Besides his recordings and his solo and ensemble music performances, he is active in drama, writes incidental music, and is a creative force in the underground movie industry. He is also the head of Maybe Horse, a Maybe Mars sub- label dedicated to supporting and developing Beijing’s and China’s most innovative folk and ethnic musicians. 

At the same time Xiao He, which is the alias he settled on for his folk and improvised music performances, played guitar, drum and accordion at River, a legendary old Beijing folk bar. Between these two projects Xiao He quickly developed a serious following among artists and music fans in the China music scene. In 2003, Modern Sky, China’s largest independent label, released his first CD, a live recording called “The Bird that Can Fly High Landed on the Cow that Can Run Fast”. Almost immediately this was received as one of the most important recordings in contemporary Chinese music. 

Except for a very few special performances with Glorious Pharmacy, today Xiao He only plays solo performances. Calling these multi-faceted improvised performances “Free Folk”, as much to express his anarchic playfulness as to suggest the total freedom which he approaches musical instrumentation, vocal performances and stylistic experimentation, he has become the inventor of a deeply weird and immensely moving style of music, mystical and surreal, which abruptly veers from the plaintive cries of Mongolian or Western Chinese music to the barbed and sometimes childlike humour of the avant garde. Complementing his stylistic creativity is a wholly unique way of playing acoustic guitar, loops, synthesizers and any other instrument that catches his fancy. 

After his 2009 European tour, Xiao He released his second album in China with Maybe Mars. Consisting of improvised live and studio performances and two separate CDs the new album is a milestone for Xiao He. The live CD is based on 30 hours of recordings going back three years, which he has assembled as his “Personal Symphony” and, selected from six different shows, focuses on the irreversible and unrepeatable character of live performance. The other CD was recorded in his studio and focuses on the quality of the sounds and experimentation with the recording process and juxtaposes thousands of ways of combining vocal sounds with the sound of his guitar as he wrestles with and reinterprets his understanding of Minimalism. 

We Can’t Help Kissing Each Other – Low Wormwood – 1st February 2011

Cat #: 046TZM

The band Low Wormwood (Di Ku Ai), which in the corner of Lanzhou, has got the unique pride and mind to view themselves and the world. Picking a wisp of wind from the Yellow River, scooping up a handful of snow from the Qilian Mountain, collecting a piece of sand from loess plateau, then mix them as a kind of style that is impassioned and forceful but not artificial, close to heart but not compromise. They use this kind of independent attitude to compose their music. Independent and psychedelic, based on simple ballad style with multiple instruments and variety samplings, together made their music strong experimental and national colour. They has won high popularity as they published an album and take around tour each year which not only makes them one of the most active and excellent domestic bands but also one of the representative bands of Lanzhou and northwest of China . 

We can’t help keep kissing each other, originally released in China in 2008. The poetic lyrics were blue and sensitive. Absolutely, lyrics were always the important part that they valued. Some more mature composed passages made their expressions more powerful and beautiful, but not deliberately luxuriant. The whole album focused on the individuals’ feelings in the changing environment, about some hope and despair, loss and obtaining, when the music developed as movies, you may feel familiar with some plots or have been experienced before. When the once radical angry rock’n roll music intends to become some consumer goods for idealism, their faltering monologue under emotions would enter your heart as an outstanding one among them. 

The new album had taken 6 months from choosing songs, recording in studio and to downmix. The former part was done by the experienced sound engineer Yuan Tianfeng from Lanzhou. And the latter part was firstly made by him then the more experienced mixer Dou Tiemin dealt with the post production and mix of the master tape.

It was particularly important to deal with the unique samplings and effects. It was also because of the contemplation of the band and sound engineer, they decided to deepen the integral atmosphere of the songs that appear in the record. The harmonica and harmony were all played by friends, who had tried their best. They made the album more excellent. It can be said that the whole album was elaborate produced by all the people who take a part in. 

I used to receive these one-sheets from Maybe Mars in Beijing and have to rewrite them from the Chinglish versions into something a little more comprehensible. But I opted not to even bother with this one, wondering perhaps if it would add some authenticity and make it more obviously Chinese.