Yan Jun was kind enough to send me a passel of releases from China, not the most common source of this end of the music spectrum. I was fascinated to hear all these things, regardless of whether I "liked" a given disc or not and thank him very much. Below some all too brief comments:
Intelligent Shanghai Mono University - 7.9 (SubJam)
A band of four Shanghai electronics musicians who go by the monikers, B6, cy, Susuxx and Zoojoo. This is a 2003 release, 14 tracks, about an hour. I might relate it to Otomo's work from the early 90s in that much of the music mashes together shards of noise, found sounds, etc. with more or less rock-based melodic fragments and rhythms. There are spacey interludes; "Tunes by" consists of a woman's voice dreamily chanting, "Fuck you, fuck me" for instance, and also bits of dance hall electronica ("Sand") and a 7-minute blank track. "M1" has a nice Barry Adamson vibe; all of the final four tracks, M1-M4 are essentially warped pop forms. Overall, maybe a bit dated (even in 2003) but a good deal of exuberant fun to be had here.
Ronez - Try It On for Size (SubJam)
Apparently mine is not one of the first 300 copies as there's no enclosed condom, alas. Ronez is Zhou Pei and this is a 2002 collection of 26 tracks not so far removed from the above release in the mixture of noise and rock forms. Again, Otomo seems to be a reference but there's a certain coldness here that causes the tracks to sound more clinical than one would like. Some odd Wayne Horvitz-y sounds here and there. But the basic sounds, rhythms, etc. are kind of thin and mundane. Not so keen on this one.
DDV - Live in China (Kwanyon)
Have to say, I love the cover. DDV seems to be made up of DDV on electronics & voice, Yilichi "on" hanggai (a Chinese folk groupor, one assumes, recordings of same) and the SubJam Jam Band. There's a good bit of throat singing near the beginning, possibly the aforementioned Hanggai, supplemented by ambient noise and someone crooning, "I like the way you mooove...". his 2005 recording is a good bit grimier (in a positive sense) than the two above, sometimes venturing into Lescalleetian realms of wobbly power ("Tribute to Vel"). The distorted groans and sludgy pounding take their toll after a while, though. Fans of the more dismal reaches of the noise scene might enjoy--and I liked a good half of it--but at 70+ minutes, it eventually wore out its welcome.
Yan Jun - Mars Tour Diary (SubJam)
What the title says, as near as I can tell and quite enjoyable, Yan Jun presenting 20 tracks, field recordings if you will, from a 2010 tour, encased in very handsome booklet filled with casual photos from same (Otomo popping up in one). "Zhucago Duo", pits abstract electronics vs. a regular snore. Others seems to capture nothing special but, in their lack of intentionality, are quite winning. Then you'll have pieces like "Hypnotizing Lu Bai" which is hard to imagine being sourced from surrounding environs, sounding more like an excellent piece utilizing electronics, with keening, fluctuating, ear-slicing layers of whines oozing across one's sonic membranes. The variety is excellent, nearly nothing to fairly noisy, tons of tone, almost every track containing something that makes one smile in recognition. If loose field recodings are your thing (and why wouldn't they be?), this is a fine exemplar and right up your alley.
Laurent Jeanneau/KINK GONG - Soundscape China (Kwanyin)
I'm given to understand that Jeanneau (who also goes by KINK GONG) is an accomplished recordist of southeast Asian traditional music, including some of the Vietnamese releases on Sublime Frequencies. This 2001-02 recording simply enough combines swatches of music and sound from the Yunnan region of China with abstract electronics, and does in quite well indeed. Lecturing voices mingle with those of children, interfered with by harsh tones (as in bad radio reception) and more globular, ringing ones. A single, hour-long track that held my attention throughout, the sourced material always balanced with the electronics, the approaches varied, the sound mix often luscious. An excellent recording that makes me want to hear much more from Mr. Jeanneau. Special stuff.
Tim Blechmann - timbre (Kwanyin)
A single 41 minute piece, steady-state, featuring a hollow drone, vaguely metallic, with multiple striations within. Midway through, grainier elements seep in, bits of detritus rolling around in a great, windswept tube. Not sure of the recoding date here; it's similar to other ventures in this neck of the woods but really well done at that, enough that I don't find it particularly tired or cliched. Good focus, good attention to detail, nice sense of forward thrust. As can be seen in the cover graphic, the volume gradually swells; also, the clatter increases as well as some deeply buried harmonics. Enjoyable piece.
Jun-Y Ciao - The Beginning of the Beginning of TheBeginning (Kwanyin)
Ciao plays clarinets and bass clarinet and this is a solo recording. While he uses approaches that are very Braxtonian, he doesn't really sound like Braxton, tending more toward a music very akin to any number of European improvisers from the 80s on. Lyrical, in a very loose, free sense. But nothing really stands out, makes one sit up. And nowhere near the amount of structure or other important qualities to stand alone.
Vavabond - Yellow (Kwanyin)
Vavabond is a young, female laptop artist, formerly known as Wei Wei and associated, among others, with the band Vagus Nerve. That's all I know. The music here is harsh, glitchy and hyperactive, skittering about, bumping into walls, shattering. No pulse, instead several layers of mechanical, rapid rhythm. But as with the Jun-Y Ciao issue above, there's nothing particularly special about it. It has a routine aspect, little sense of exploration, excitement or surprise and, over the course of the disc, the sounds take on a same-y quality and wear thin.
Yan Jun - V (Kwanyin)
Electronics as opposed to the field recordings of "Mars Tour Diary". Quite varied, from wisps to thick torrents of sound, sometimes fading to icy near-silence, all engagingly handled. Unlike the above release, one gets a sense of a firm, underlying structure, of a reason for the sounds (however unquantifiable), implying substantial thought in their dispersal. Some really nice ultra-high frequency work as well in the last few cuts, frosting the room. Good work.
Yan Jun - Music for Listening on the Moon (Kwanyin)
An hour of very spare, though slightly spacey electronics that indeed have something of a selenic aspect. The source is apparently an ongoing installation "in Yan Jun's washroom" (lending an alternate possible meaning of "moon) and one can, in fact, translate many of the sounds into attenuations of drip noises. It's consistent over it's length, all variation occurring within a narrow range, but it works wonderfully, integrating into the room, tickling the vacuum. A fine recording.
Li Zeng Hui - Live at Waterland Kwanyin (Kwanyin)
Solo saxophonics (baritone and, I think, alto) from 2008, very much in free jazz expressionist mode a la Brotzmann et. al. Well outside my range of interest, to be sure and not much I could latch onto even allowing for my antipathy to the area. I remember (unfair, I know) a solo Hamiet Bluiett performance at Environ in 1977, half incredibly angry and raging baritone, half equally angry verbal raging at the loft scene and conditions for musicians generally. Now that
was something harrowing and special. This doesn't get anywhere close.
(Various) - Big Can (Kwanyin)
There was this large, abandoned, cylindrical metal object, maybe an oil tank. In 2009, several people cam to the site and made some noise. They were Otomo Yoshihide, Ryu Hankil, Yuen Cheewai, Yan Jun, Sachiko M, Yang Ge, Xian Qiang, Hong Qile, Gogo J, Olivier Heux and Junyuan. The sounds chosen are refreshingly non-obvious, no fist-banging on the interior walls. There are soft clocks and drips as well as a number of sustained sounds--whistling, moaning, keening--that don't sound voice-derived but perhaps are. It's also very open, not overcrowded as might be feared from eleven participants. There's a 27-minute main track then a fun single minute of the troupe waling away...good job.