Tag Archives: Atmen

2017年4月4日|百鬼夜行 100 SPIRITS

100 SPIRITS draws near. In the dark night of Tuesday 4 April, this beastly display of souls will be unleashed!! For one night only, the ancient tomb of Jah Bar will mutate into a crazed crypt crawling with ghosts, as the stage alter is graced by five of Chengdu’s most forward-thinking and innovative live acts.

Behold, the princely masters of SPLORTCH SELECTOR will kick the night into gear with a psychedelic mash-up of robot synthcore and chunky prog basslines, enslaving you into either your greatest dream or worst nightmare.

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Splortch Selector at Blah Blah #003 @ NU SPACE. Dave (bass), Michael (guitar, programming). Photo by c2.

I dare you to Google the word ‘splortch.’ I double dare you to see what that word means when it is turned into a electro-prog-rock-synth-fused musical project.

I first met Michael, the band’s mastermind at Aus-atmen last year. He was one of the last people to leave and partied right through till the soggy rain drenched mud fest of Sunday afternoon, just before the cops came. From then on, I knew he was one of the good ones. He also played guitar and was making beats on his laptop. Since those humble beginnings and a killer set at Blah Blah #003, this bedroom music project has evolved into the three-piece live monstrosity SPLORTCH SELECTOR, which will explode on Jah Bar this Tuesday. What can we expect from this band? Word on the street is their singer is going to throw up on the audience. Get in.

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The Hormones L-R: Xiaoxue (guitar), Zhu Mengdie (vocals), Juan Juan (drums), Ming Ming (bass). Photo courtesy of The Hormones.

After a long hiatus from performance, the celestial sisters of cellular synthesis THE HORMONES are back for their highly anticipated return to the mortal world! Blasting their infectious brand of electro dance rock, prepare to have these synthesized hormones secreted directly into your blood.

It must’ve been September of 2015. This super badass chick walked into the old Morning Bar 早上好 with a bunch of fliers. “这是我的乐队,” she said, handing me a flier and sitting down to light a cigarette. THE HORMONES – CHINA TOUR 2015. This is how I met Ming Ming – and I immediately liked her.

The Hormones are a collective of likewise badass chicks who rock seriously uplifting dance music and quite simply do not give a fuck what you think. Wisps of Karen O, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Foals, delivered with pure power and precision. They are such an important band and I am so excited to see them play on Tuesday night, their first Chengdu show in over a year!

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Ming Ming at the old 早上好。2016. Photo by Kiwese.

KAISHANDAO will take us deeper into the night with bass heavy drum machine smashing and techno-flavoured frequency modulations, wielding an electric guitar and a mystic mixture of brain-warping effects pedals.

Kaishandao got it’s name from a 成语 that Xiaoxin a.k.a LittleNew, the illustrator behind the 百鬼夜行 100 Spirits poster, messaged to me several months ago. She’s fond of a good 成语,but I often have to look them up in Pleco. A not-so-long story short, I came across the word 开山刀 and it just clicked. I love it’s simplicity paired with brutality, the symmetry within the characters and the unified first tone throughout.

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Kaishandao live @ HWG Chengdu. March 2017. Photo by Zhao Haha.

“Do you think Kaishandao would be a good name for my music?” I asked.
“Yeah it’s cool! But you’re music will have to be really cutting edge to use it,” she replied.

I’ve been organising shows in China for two years now, but I’ve played guitar since I was 10. I’m not sure Kaishandao is anywhere near as cutting edge as the friends I will perform with on Tuesday night, but for the first time in many years, I am now proud to perform my own original music for an audience, and in what better place than right here in this crazy city that has brought us together from all corners of the world – Chengdu. Bringing together my dual loves of rock and techno, this is Kaishandao.

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Hiperson at Siguniangshan. Photo Courtesy of Hiperson.

As the clock nears midnight, the patron saints of post-punk HIPERSON will materialize for a rare and glorious performance. Known for their fierce vocals, ear-thrashing guitar assaults and thundering rhythmic prowess, Hiperson’s presence will ensure the spirits are well and truly awakened!

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The old Hiperson logo by LittleNew.

When I was a student living in Beijing, I came across a band from Chengdu who had put some demos on Douban. Just several seconds into 《他打定主意做一个游客》and I was completely hooked, put the demos on my iPod and biked around the city listening to them on repeat at full volume for what seemed like days.

That band? HIPERSON. And they are basically the reason I moved to Chengdu.

It was outside the little Little Bar after The Hormones EP release show when I first met Chen Sijiang.
“Uhh ni hao, ni shi Hiperson de Chen Sijiang ma?!”
“Yes, hi!”
OH MY GOD.

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Chen Sijiang live @ NU SPACE, 2016. Photo by Kiwese.

Since then, they have signed to a big indie label, released their first record, toured the country in a van and even toured Europe. Sijiang shaved off all her hair along the way. Through it all, they have remained 100% humble and dedicated to their music, with a DIY attitude that their heroes Fugazi would admire.

I am honoured to call them my friends, and I am in disbelief that I will play on the same bill as them at Jah Bar this Tuesday. They are the greatest and I can’t believe this is even happening.

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Finally, elevating us to the spiritual homeland of techno, SU will provide a digital nerve massage of hard-hitting, Berlin-inspired beats, taking the DJ decks for a rhythmic full body cleanse right through till the early hours.

I can’t remember the first time I met Gogo, but I am almost certain it was over a doob at the old Morning Bar 早上好 several years ago. She asked what star sign I was.

“Sagitarrius,” I said.
“Me too!”
“Cool, what date”
“12月12日”
“ME TOO!!”
“WHAAAAT!!”

We are bound in an inexplicable bond by the astrological power of the number 12. Techno is what she lives and breathes, and each time she returns from Germany, she brings with her a wave of new energy that washes over those who hear her play.

The first time I collaborated with her was for the NUART Festival after party at 早上好 in 2015, where I brought Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light for a renegade show and trippy visual installation. She’d just formed atmen with Xiang and had returned from a long trip to Germany. The night culminated with Riki Gooch (Cave Circles) jamming the drum kit to Su’s DJ set with a bunch of greasy shaokao sticks. It was beautiful. Since then, along with Xiang, we’ve played together at clubs and festivals in an improvised manner.

In a way, this Tuesday night is a coming of things full circle with the return of Lady Lazer Light to Chengdu and Su taking the decks for the closing set of the night. She is the spirit that floats the dance floor, let the frequencies set you free.

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Chunyou 2016. Photo by 仙人张

Overseeing this ghostly procession is the high priestess of visual overstimulation Lady Lazer Light, who has been summoned all the way from New Zealand. Known for hypnotising her audiences in China with Orchestra of Spheres in 2015, she will be floating through Jah Bar and spraying her kaleidoscopic rays throughout the night!

The first time I experienced a Lady Lazer Light show, I can say with utmost certainty that everyone was tripping on acid. It was the closing set of Camp A Low Hum 2012 and Thought Creature were playing on a stage that had materialized out of nowhere. Hypnotic mirroring of hot pink gorillas and dancing Indian women scattered across the screen, amplifying the psychedelic drone of guitars and synths, and sending the remaining punters into that special state of mutual derangement which is so often reserved for the last night of music festivals.

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Lady Lazer Light and Kiwese. Dali, Yunnan, China, October 2014. Photo by Mani Dunlop.

“Woahhh, this is buzzy,” I uttered to no one in particular.

The first time I actually met her was on the Orchestra of Spheres China tour, while she was on an art residency in Beijing. This month she returns to Chengdu, on the back of her second residency at Red Gate in Feijiacun, Beijing, and we are so excited!! Sklenars is our distinguished guest, a total party animal, the queen of buzzy visuals, and we are beyond privileged to have her grace Jah Bar on Tuesday for an all out audio-visual assault of the senses.

Kindred spirits, the time is nigh to sweep the tomb of your wardrobe and unearth your most GHOULISH garb for an unforgettable night of genre-bending audio-visual madness not seen before in these lands. Abide by the ghosty dress-code and be part of the movement! We beseech you, this is a night not to be missed.

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This show is possible due to a culmination of great friends, an incredible local music scene and the desire to create an unforgettable moment in Chengdu music history – a night of barely contained mayhem in one of the most legendary and long-standing venues in town. It exists beyond the confines of genre, background, label, or any of the noise that can get in the way of what is truly important – the music.

2017.4.4

JAH BAR CDC

100 SPIRITS IS LIMITED TO 100 TICKETS!!

80RMB

TICKET LINK:
http://zaomengshe.com/c/654983

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Favourite Gigs 2016

Construction and redevelopment has seen Chengdu’s cultural landscape (read: the places we go to drink alcohol and listen to music) change dramatically. But as old places close and new ones emerge, great shows from bands, performers, DJs and collectives continue to entertain and inspire.

Along with the loss of Bowie, Prince and George Michael, we lost many of our local stars this year. Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu was demolished and construction of the new Music Conservatory concert hall began, Machu Picchu I closed after over a decade of business in the backstreets of Yulin and Soul Kitchen shut up shop just as renovations were completed. But it’s not all doom and gloom, laobans have gone on to open 2.0 versions of their former bars.

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The fall of Minzhu Lu. Video: Unknown WeChat source.

Not ones to be phased by forced demolition, the Zaoshanghao crew came back in style with the incredibly epic Morning House in Flower Town, taking over the old Xiwo swimming pool bar and fitting it out with an outdoor-stage, hot pot and rehearsal spaces. The Dojo crew took over Soul Kitchen in the Soho Building and established Berlin Haus, bringing much needed day vibes, strong coffee and workspaces to the inner city. Yulin also saw the opening of Yabany 牙半厘, a smoky little bar fit out with retro neons, cult film screenings and despite lack of any backline, the occasional jam night.

Perhaps the venue making the biggest waves this year has got to be NU SPACE. Freshly renovated at the back of Mintown, NU SPACE is kitted out with a minimalist, concrete design, banging sound system and some of the most diverse billing in the city.

When I first came to Chengdu as a backpacking language student in 2013,  I was greeted with jungle fireworks and Drum N Bass and Rammstein blasting from a shopping trolley in the magazine aisle of 7Eleven. Friends took me to Morning Bar, Lantown, Hemp House and Xiwo, vibrant venues tattooed with psychedelic murals and scented with herbal inspiration. Now, more than three years later, none of those venues exist anymore, but the shows certainly go on.

“…when the world outside is scary, boring, ugly, and hateful, what do you do? You either drown in it or you drown it out.”

– Brian Chippendale for The Creative Independent

Music is the gateway, it elevates us above the mundanity of everyday life. We choose to participate in it and represent who we are. Live music is the beating heart of a community, where the performer and audience meet like minded spirits, enter a space of their own creation, and be free.

Without further ado, here are my favourite shows of 2016 in chronological order.

Chinese Football

Little Bar, Chengdu

8 January 2016

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“NI HAI PAAAAAAA – WO HAI PAAAAA!!”

Man, how good are Chinese Football?! These Wuhan emo kids came through Chengdu on their album release tour way back in January, playing to a sea of woollen cardigans and thick framed glasses. No support act, didn’t need it. Super 爽 guitars, vocal melodies and FEELS. Chinese Football also probably have the strongest merch game in the country. Subsequently invited them to play NUART Festival in October which was also highly dope (see below).

Check out their album on Bandcamp.

Mike Shannon

.TAG, Chengdu

19 March 2016

It was a packed house for Berlin-based Canadian producer Mike Shannon and .TAG’s 2nd birthday. A six-hour long set of fresh, cutting house and techno, masterful hypnotism of the dance floor and the delivery of positive vibes. The excellent support slot was Beijing bro Yang Bing, who kept things popping till Sunday lunchtime. Much rave!

Chunyou 春游

Morning House, Chengdu

22 April 2016

Chunyou is like Christmas for music fans. With the introduction of an electronic stage, rental tents courtesy of Steam Hostel and a new abundance of sofas, this year’s Chunyou at Morning House saw many punters stay on site for a memorable weekend of debauchery. Memorable moments include:

  • Hiperson on the main stage live with new bassist Ming Ming for the first time in Chengdu.
  • Someone setting off a fucking FLARE in the middle of the Stolen mosh pit.
  • CDC inviting all the white people up to dance on the stage and all the white people being really excited.
  • Playing guitar with atmen at the electronic stage on Day 1.
  • DIO was sick.
  • Pascal Pinon putting a spell over the main stage
  • HELEN TING IN THE DJ ROOM ON SUNDAY MORNING. Rolling out of my shitty tent after passing out for two hours and stumbling into the DJ hut with no pants on to find this insane Hong Kong lady with an afro, coloured shades and enormous Aladdin pants absolutely slaying the decks with a mix of afrobeat, soul and funk, a dedicated crowd of ravers grooving strong, mystically attaining sunglasses as the sun came up. Fuck how good was Helen Ting?!
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atmen live. Image: 仙人张
Aus-atmen Festival

Dongli Juyuan, 三圣乡, Chengdu

21-22 May 2016

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Rain rain rain. More rain. Stage closures, mud, the gear getting soaked, the police shut down… As dysfunctional as Aus-atmen ended up being, it was a testament to DIY culture, a love of electronic music and thinking big. It was also completely unforgettable. Check out the review here.

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16:30 – 18:00   Hao (Chengdu, CN)
18:00 – 19:30   May (Chengdu, CN)
19:30 – 21:00   Bchir (Rabat, MA)
21:00 – 22:30   Ewan (Chengdu, CN)
22:30 – 00:00   Xiaolong (Chengdu, CN)
00:00 – 02:00   Mike Ravelli (Amsterdam, NL)
02:00 – 04:00   Su (Chengdu, CN)
04:00 – 06:00   Xiang (Chengdu, CN)
06:00 – 07:30   Chamberlain (Beijing, CN)
07:30 – 09:00    Hiroshi (Hiroshima, JP)
09:00 – ??????    CA1XR (Chengdu, CN)
??????  – ??????    Su

Hiperson + Lonely Leary

NU SPACE, Chengdu

10 June 2016
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Chen Sijiang of Hiperson. Video: LittleNew

This was the first show I put on at NU SPACE and is also my favourite poster of the year, a  collage we made of clippings from an old flipbook featuring a flying decapitated head. We posted it around the city on cheap A4 print outs.

Hiperson Lonely Leary poster

Lonely Leary have two speeds: fast or faster. Bass heavy rhythms drove the blitzing pace like a schizophrenic roller coaster. There was no looking back for Hiperson, who played a killer set of new material, confident and self-assured. May have shed a tear.

NU SPACE had just opened and we were working a lot of shit out… the lighting really wasn’t great, but these two bands together in concert for a home crowd was in my eyes a real triumph.

Yue Xuan: Entrance and Exports Remix Project
feat. Cvalda + VJ PLGRM

NU SPACE, Chengdu

24 June 2016

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Beijing-based pianist Yue Xuan 岳璇 came to Chengdu as part of her Remix tour to perform with Cvalda, one of the producers who remixed a track from In & Out (2015) that formed the Entrance & Exports remix album. Comprised of three sections; contemporary piano, electronic collaboration and drum n bass, this was a unique and creatively curated live show from one of China’s biggest talents.

Also a composer for film, Yue Xuan’s concert was suitably accompanied by incredibly beautiful visual pieces by PLGRM on the big screen for us in this intimate performance. Oh, and we got to see Cvalda in “formal dress” as she laid down some serious bass.

Neverland

Fairy Mountain, Wulong, Chongqing

8-9 July 2016

NUTS Livehouse and Morning 早上好 have done it again, Neverland 2016 was bigger, better and more well organised than ever – no deadly mud slide between stages, and a quarantining of the psy-trance stage to it’s own little hill commune in the forest. The addition of more food stalls was a welcome relief (shout out Baker Street for giving us the last pasta scrapings on Day 2), a big improvement from the food options available in 2015.

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Wild animals, beautiful landscapes, hand built teepees and jamming instruments providing pleasing environments for those on acid and co., while the downside was an influx of loud, obnoxious tourists who killed the vibe from about 9pm – 2am both nights with yelling, beer showers and general fuckwittery at the Main Stage.

Metope and Yang Bing were highlights on Day 1, as Dusk Till Dawn proved their namesake. We were treated to the best of Shanghai, with MIIIA and MHP making appearances on the second night. Raving on a mountain in the early morning as the morning mist slowly glides in from the hills – YES. Go Neverland!

Punk Fest CDC

Morning House, Chengdu

6 August 2016
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One of the many stage dives at Punk Fest. Image: YRL

How many punk bands are there in Chengdu?

According to Punk Fest CDC, actually quite a few.

It was an absolute scorcher in Flower Town and hoards of people turned up for a good time, enticed by the free entry ticket price. A ferocious mosh pit fuelled by copious amounts of beer, Morning House was buzzing for a day and night of recurrent stage diving and comic pool throws. Stink Mouth threw a bunch of condoms into the crowd. Good times.

The Others Way Festival

Galatos, Auckland

2 September 2016
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Nick Johnson from Cut Off Your Hands. GIF: Kiwese

BOY am I happy about Cut Off Your Hands coming back this year. Their performance at The Others Way was a total throwback to 2008’s You & I and even Takes Slowly Over from their first EP, finishing up with Nick Johnson jumping on guitar for their new tune Hate Somebody. Brilliant band, incredibly energy and everyone was going ape shit like it was 2006.

The Others Way coordinated all the venues on K Road into a night packed full of back to back shows and it was impeccably well organized. I also caught great performances from Nadia Reid, Fazerdaze, Purple Pilgrims, Mermaidens, Shocking Pinks and the inimitably chaotic King Loser.

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JC Satàn

NU SPACE, Chengdu

17 September 2016
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Image: Kiwese

Powerful women rocking out, YEAH. Paula and Ali totally rock. French imports JC Satàn were an unexpected delight. Bathed in red light, the band jumped and lurched and grooved their way through an set of throttling, kerosine coated garage punk somewhere between The Ramones, Thee Oh Sees and Queens of the Stone Age. A two-metre tall keyboardist thrashed about like a barely caged giraffe while guitarist Arthur kicked and shook like an electrified rock and roll Bruce Lee.

The bassist and guitarist lost their guitars in transit (ouch), but took kindly to borrowed instruments which I was surprised to find intact after the show, not pummelled into a fine dust. A mighty gig that brought out all the head bangers, stoners and more than a few devils horns. Rock is not dead, thank god.

NUART Festival

Kuixinglou Jie, Chengdu

1-3 October 2016
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Image: John Yingling

Three days of sunshine, four stages, hundreds of market stalls and thousands of punters – 2016 was the first year I’ve been on board at NUART Festival and man, what a trip. Chengdu community vibes and street culture combined with some of the most innovative alternative acts in the country. A cohesion of genres, with a smorgasbord on the Main Stage, experimental/electronic music in NU SPACE, a DJ stage and a vinyl record zone run by Marco Duits himself.

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I feel this festival brings the community together, young and old, the livehouses and the clubs. Absolutely amazing and completely exhausting. Too many highlights to mention! Marco closing the festival with an Always on the Run 7″ by Lenny Kravitz was pretty amazing though.

This year’s line-up:

WHAI, Chinese Football, ChaCha + DJ Aivilox, Wednesday’s Trip, South Acid MiMi Dance Team, CDC, Sulumi, Biggaton + Blood Dunza (JA), Hu Yang, iimmune, Taiga, Charlie Tango (FR), Starcardigan (RU), Wanmei Daoli, Fake Swing, Jahwahzoo, Sound and Fury, Zhang Xiaobing and Friends, U M U / Microsoft Voices (NZ), Faded Ghost, 3000, Xiang, Su, Kaiser and May, Lao G, Just Charlie, Jovian and Marco Duits.

mr sterile Assembly

Support: Die! Chiwawa!Die!

Loft345, Guangzhou

15 October 2016

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This year Kiwese was pleased to tour with mr sterile Assembly across Guangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Beijing. While each show was unique, Guangzhou was my favourite.

Hauling gear up four flights of stairs paid off as Loft345 came alive with dancing and general limb flailing. Despite a bass amp meltdown, Chrissie ripped through a set of chest pummeling tunes through a tiny guitar amp with no overdrive, while mr sterile, having upgraded from the drum-less venue in Shanghai, happily smashed away on his melange of cymbals while yelling out pagefuls of lyrics to those bafflingly brilliant time signatures.

The night was a success thanks to our hosts QiiiSnacks Records and Die! Chiwawa!Die! – an inimitable Guangzhou  hardcore noise/screamo/chiptune band which frontwoman Jinbo bouncing up and down like a possessed Pokémon while guitarist Howie and the other screamo vocalist thrashing across the ground as if it were being tilted and shaken by an omnipotent overlord.

Sabu Toyozumi + Li Jianhong

NU SPACE, Chengdu

26 October 2016

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In a tour named 耳舍 (lit: ear tongue), acclaimed experimental guitarist Li Jianhong 李剣鴻 and legendary Japanese free jazz drummer Sabu Toyozumi treated us to a two hour display of skill, stamina and imagination.

Toyozumi, now in his seventies, was like a playful kid in a sandpit, pushing the house kit through its paces – smacking, dismantling and scraping it together, even whipping the snare with his sock at one point. Li Jianhong deftly cast out a palette of colours with his effects board, the scrape of his guitar and slamming of wah pedals sounded as if he were fishing for frequencies in an ocean of sound – calm, patient and free. A journey through tone and timbre that constantly reached into new territory, furthered by local multi-instrumentalist and improv king Kun jumping on violin for the last segment of the show.

Afterwards, the promoter said Sabu only played for 30 minutes in Chongqing, which made us feel even luckier to be treated to such an epic long set. Sabu was also super happy to chat with fans afterwards and sign CDs. Super swell guy! Stay tuned for his NZ tour with the Sound and Light Exploration Society next year.

Michael Rother

Support: Chui Wan

Little Bar Space, Chengdu

31 October 2016

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VICE have brought quite a few touring acts to Chengdu this year (Ratatat, Tonstartssbandht) but Krautrock king Michael Rother from Neu!, Harmonia and Kraftwerk with Beijing psych/no-wave band Chui Wan took the cake. Little Bar Space is a cavernous monstrosity when half empty and even Rother himself politely commented on the small crowd in between songs.

Chui Wan is like LSD for the ears. Michael Rother and band were uplifting, melodic and joyful. Lovely, though with that number of people (100-150 ish), I couldn’t help but think how great and intimate it could have been at NU SPACE…

Eagulls

Support: Sinkers

NU SPACE, Chengdu

18 November 2016

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When Eagulls took the stage my heart stopped.

Was it our newly minted fog machine that cloaked them in a turquoise haze of gothic mystery? Was it frontman George Mitchell’s post-punk nonchalance and lyrical wordsmithing? Was it the bass line from Skipping that echoes the refrain from How Soon is Now? Was it that I’d witnessed their metamorphosis into an immensely professional, polished and powerful live act directly after Tsingdao cans, rollies and toilet banter?

Sisu (Acoustic)

Berlin Haus, Chengdu

22 November 2016

This was a really special show for me because:

a) we threw it together last minute

b) it was Sisu’s first time ever playing an acoustic show

c) it was the first ever Berlin Haus show.

Shout out to the chick huffing a qiqiu (balloon) at the back lol. Classic Tuesday night Soho.

Octopoulpe, Le Crabe, Digou, Klaus Legal

NU SPACE, Chengdu

13 December 2016

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Two aliens slithered on stage and blasted into a set of garbled bass/vocals hardcore before Donald Trump emerged bearing hot dogs and hamburgers then was skinned alive and left for dead. The show went on until Trump was revived by the sound of Chinese pop and destroyed by a glowing orb where he and the aliens were forced to evacuate by dragging themselves along the floor out the door, leaving Earth forever.

The All Seeing Hand, Womb, Unsanitary Napkin

Meow, Wellington

23 December 2016

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Wellington disciples of the A.S.H order convened upon Meow to praise their latest auditory offering Sand to Glass with support from Unsanitary Napkin, Womb and artist Georgette Brown. A feast for the eyes and ears! The All Seeing Hand are in a class of their own, the shamans of sound, the Triptych of Trippy – stay tuned for their China wanderings in 2017.


Commended:

  • Caspian @ Little Bar Space, Chengdu
  • Noise Temple @ .TAG
  • Audible Area:SunWei + 16ways @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • Dizzy Love + Wednesday’s Trip @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • DJ Sodeyama @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • Street Party Rain Out: Marco Duits @ Hakka Bar, Chengdu
  • U Brown + Blood Dunza @ Jah Bar, Chengdu
  • Tobias @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • All the Yang Bing raves @ .TAG in the first half of 2016

What will 2017 bring?

I’d like to see shows make there way out into the public, in found locations or reconverted spaces. DJ Marco Duits is someone who constantly leads the way with this in his ‘Street Party’ concept, though even these shows are becoming few and far between. No one wants to get in trouble, or worse, have their gear confiscated, but how can we branch out into different spaces and create something new for ourselves? I look forward to the new year of new shows and new adventures.


Full disclosure: I work at NU SPACE so saw a lot of shows there and missed those at other venues.

This year, Kiwese was lucky to be invited to Going Global Music Conference and The Others Way Festival in Auckland – many thanks to Dylan, Kath at the Independent New Zealand Music Commission for the opportunity!

Header image by John Yingling @theworldunderground

NUART Festival Chengdu 2016:来耍!!

A year has gone by so fast, the October National Holiday break is soon upon us and NUART Festival has rolled round again! Good times – here’s the run down…

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Chengdu’s free arts and music street festival on Kuixinglou Street is into it’s third year now, with no signs of slowing down. As in previous years, the multi-genre Main Stage will keep things pumping from afternoon till night outside Mintown, featuring some of Chengdu’s favourite acts Wednesday’s Trip, Zhang Xiaobing, Jahwahzoo and CDC, as well as imports from around the country including ChaCha (Shanghai), Chinese Football (Wuhan), WHAI (Beijing) and South Acid MiMi (Kunming).

One of this year’s most exciting addition is NU SPACE, our new venue that has opened out the back of Mintown which will be housing live sets from some of China’s most exciting producers iimmuneHu Yang and Sulumi and the debut of the audiovisual collaboration 3000.

Kiwese is pleased to announce UMU and Microsoft Voices from Wellington will be performing with prepared turntables and projectors on Day 1, following last year’s Orchestra of Spheres debut on the Main Stage! Yeah!

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Day 1 on the Main Stage sees things kick off with indie-pop songsters Wanmei Daoli, Chengdu shoegaze trio Sound and Fury and the good vibes of Tuvan folk tunes of Taiga from Xinjiang. My personal favourites, electro punk witches South Acid MiMi are coming up from Kunming to play Chengdu for the first time! Local hip hop stars CDC will bring all the 迷妹 out to close the night with their trap flavoured, acid tongued Sichuanhua rap.

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Main Stage visuals will be run by Morning 早上好 resident Cha Fei 叉飞, so expect some trippy shit.

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“We are Micro Soft Voices. We are Kathy, Vicky, Alex and Bruce. We are Apple Core. We are hash busting keyboard fanatics. We are laptop punk.” You do not wanna miss this set, the side project of Baba Rossa and Mos Iocos from Orchestra of Spheres!

Shanshui Records laoban Sulumi returns to Chengdu to perform a live set of his inimitable techno/glitch/8-bit production.

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Shake off that hangover and get down for Day 2! Fake Swing (former and current members of The Hormones) will charm the street with their acoustic indie pop in the afternoon, before Biggaton and Blood Dunza “run it!” and get things skankin’ with Jamaican reggaeton MC magic. Charlie Tango from France are sure to please with their uptempo indie rock stylings, while Wuhan’s math rock darlings Chinese Football are one’s to look forward to, returning to Chengdu for the first time since their album release tour. Last but certainly not least, the Queen of underground Shanghai hip-hop ChaCha will get her groove on with DJ Aivilox from the Shelter on the decks! Parrrrrtay!

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Day 2 in NU SPACE sees live techno from Beijing-based iimmune (Prajnasonic) and Hu Yang (Be Sure) with visuals by VJ Mian. YESYESYESOHYES.


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Reggae big band Jahwahzoo b2b Zhang Xiaobing and Friends will no doubt see Day 3 off to a very green beginning. Chengdu’s legendary Wednesday’s Trip 星期三旅行 bring out the bass with their synth-saturated trip-hop, fronted by vocalist Wu Zhuoling. Starcardigan from Vladivostok return to NU for a follow up to their last show at NU SPACE, bringing their energetic electro-pop to the street!

Closing the Main Stage for 2016 is Beijing experimental rock band WHAI. I saw them play a couple of years ago at Yugong Yishan in Beijing, donning dark sunglasses, they were concealed by a thin transparent sheet while shouting “FUCK” repeatedly over droning guitar noise. Intrigued to see how this will go down on the street.

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Faded Ghost a.k.a. ChaCha will spin a back to back vinyl set with Shanghai sister Aivilox in the afternoon.

To close the festival, NU SPACE will transform for the debut of 3000, a collaboration between bass music producers Cvalda and Jason Hou and lighting designers Li Kun and Miao Jing based on the concepts of space, sound and light. “要你命3000”。Not to be missed.

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This year, the Street Party has been extended to two zones, one featuring local labels atmen and Disco Death with custom lighting installation by PLGRM, the other a vinyl stage run by Chengdu’s resident street DJ Marco Duits. Perhaps the only time of year the Qingyang District ayis forgo their own 8pm dancing session to get down with the ravers!


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So what are you doing this National Holiday?

NUART FESTIVAL 2016
1 - 3 October
3pm - 10:30pm

跨界艺术
NU Crossover Art
国际交流
International Communication
巷巷音乐
NU Music
声音实验
Experimental Sounds
街头派对
NU Street Party
摊摊市集
NU Market Stalls

地址:成都市青羊区奎星楼街55号
ADD: Kuixinglou Street, Qingyang, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

无门票 Free!

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Follow us on WeChat: shaochengyoumingtang

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Aus-atmen 2016 | Photo Review

Aus-atmen has wrapped for 2016. Last month we descended upon a grassy field in Flower Town with two soundsystems, several dozen tents, 200 lollipops and dreams of techno in the moonlight…
However, Mother Nature is a wild woman who loves to party and she brought her rain to the dancefloor all night long! Despite it all, we felt the love!
2016年5月21日、22日,一群热爱真理与自由的江湖儿女齐聚三圣花乡Aus-atmen电子音乐节,共同经历了两天一夜的难忘时光。无论各种天气与环境的突发状况,他们仍保持初心,用爱的能量鼓励彼此,用舞蹈欢庆生命…

(photos by 叉飞,Xiang and Kiwese)
Formed on the basis of community collaboration, Aus-atmen would not have been possible without all of our partners, supporters, volunteers and friends.
Huge thanks to Spectrum Maker for designing the poster and trailer with us, momo and the BIGGER CHA girls for constructing the Aus-stage installation, Steam Hostel for setting up their tent village, farinablu for her amazing prints and designs, Baicai and Jiewa for building the teepee that saved us from the rain, Zaomengshe and Danche Yule for ticketing, Yue Chen for the wristband design, Natalie at VICE Thump Berlin for coming out to find us, all the DJs who signed up to play Open Shua, the bar and food team for holding it down and all our friends who put their love, time and energy into this festival.
From the sleepless nights of preparation right through to the pack down, Aus-atmen would not have been possible without you.
Big love to all of you who came out – everyone who partied in the rain, fed the fires, danced in the mud, got freaky, drank tea, made coffee, wiped rain off the mixer, pushed water off the stage, kept in high spirits, took care of each other and brought laughter and joy to our wet and muddy little festival.
We love you all!
See you at Ein-atmen later this year….

从前期筹备到音乐节结束,atmen得到了多方的支持:谢谢峰哥提供场地及各项帮助,谢谢谱造司给予前期海报及预告片支持,谢谢悦晨同学的手环设计,谢谢BGC一群可爱又生命力顽强的宝宝们,谢谢momo桑从头到尾的倾力支持,谢谢白菜和杰娃及朋友们手工搭建的teepee帐篷,谢谢瑞升设计的天使们,谢谢造梦社、单车娱乐、旁边儿、来电、kiwese的宣传,谢谢柏林Vice thump的Natalie对ausatmen活动的采访报道,谢谢蒸汽旅舍、farinablu和野手工作室的小伙伴们,谢谢无数可人儿们给予的无限爱的支持和鼓舞,辛苦大家了!
感谢所有喜欢atmen的人,atmen会继续聚集能量,茁壮成长,迎接未知。
今年Ein-atmen见!
atmen
xo


You can read more about atmen over on VICE Thump Germany and Beijing blog pangbianr.

 

 

Aus-atmen Festival: Chengdu countryside techno

atmen is an independent electronic music label in Chengdu, founded by local DJs Su and Xiang in 2015. 

Kiwese is very proud to be part of this collective.

Resurfacing from last year’s raves in an empty swimming pool and an underground air raid shelter, atmen return with Aus-atmen Festival 2016, an independent electronic music festival in the lush Chengdu countryside. Techno, camping, fresh air, chill zones, food, drink, what more could you want?

Read more below about the DJs, registration for the Open ‘Shua’ Stage and how to win two tickets!

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Video by VJ Mian
Music by Su 


〖 DATE 〗
Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 May 2016
4:30pm – end

〖 LOCATION 〗
Dongli Guangchang, Dongli Juyuan, Sanshengxiang (Flower Town)
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〖 TICKETS 〗
Pre-sales 80RMB
Door sales 100RMB
Pre-sales on Zaomengshe, click here!!


Featuring electronic music all day and all night on the AUS-STAGE and the Open ‘耍’ Stage. Dance. Camping. Tattooing. Market zone. Food and drink.

 

The AUS-STAGE will feature a handpicked selection of ten local and international DJs, with techno, minimal, house and electronic music pumping from mid-afternoon to the following day… With chill beats, teepees and a swimming pool to cool off in the summer sun, Aus-atmen caters to both your relaxation and party inclinations.

Aus-atmen will fuse music, dance and art with the elements, featuring natural art installations, tattooing and a craft market housed amongst the trees.

Retreat from the city to nature, and exhale…


演出阵容
AUS-STAGE
LINE-UP
2016

16:30 – 18:00   Hao (Chengdu, CN)
18:00 – 19:30   May (Chengdu, CN)
19:30 – 21:00   Bchir (Rabat, MA)
21:00 – 22:30   Ewan (Chengdu, CN)
22:30 – 00:00   Xiaolong (Chengdu, CN)
00:00 – 02:00   Mike Ravelli (Amsterdam, NL)
02:00 – 04:00   Su (Chengdu, CN)
04:00 – 06:00   Xiang (Chengdu, CN)
06:00 – 07:30   Chamberlain (Beijing, CN)
07:30 – end     Hiroshi (Hiroshima, JP)


HAO
Chengdu, CN

现居成都 创办了独立时装买手店肆合,其店内常年播放的电子乐令人印象深刻。HAO策划了“心生”“春味” “倒影“等多次独立时装发布会和派对, 多次与电子音乐人跨界合作。从亚洲到欧洲,从时装周到音乐节,艺术馆到俱乐部,独立文化的熏陶的和浓厚的艺术情结让他善于从各处获取灵感,而柏林的音乐风格对他影响尤为深远,HAO偏爱冷和硬的音色,总爱营造广袤的时空感,穿插具有叙事性的旋律章节,情绪连贯又布满起伏

Club experience 俱乐部演出经历:
❀ 北京的DADA和灯笼Lantern Beijing
❀ Ein-atmen 2015
❀ Golden Gate (Berlin) Edgar Peng China Tour – Support DJ

❀ Seafood Party 海鲜派对
Currently based in Chengdu, founder and curator of independent fashion retailer Sihe, electronic music collaborator HAO brings his distinctive style and multiplex technique to the AUS-STAGE. From Europe to Asia, from Fashion Week to music festivals, art museums to clubs in Berlin, Hao’s creative outputs as a tech house & techno DJ are underpinned by a passion for independent culture and belief in the spiritual power of electronic music. ❀


MAY
Chengdu, CN

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在MAY心里”音乐的律动就像是甹驰在沙漠里的感觉”作为一个新鲜电子乐DJ的May,从小受民族乐器的熏陶,这使得之后她在电子音乐的道路上有着自我的风格和意识,对于她而言,能够一直保持极简主义的方式去表达音乐,才能将音乐中的精髓完美释放。偏爱techno的May ,希望用自己的感知去构造出一个通透的音乐时空。正如她所说:“在这个浮躁不安的时代里,通过内心的简化与沉淀,才会找到音乐上的自我表达。”

With a university background in traditional Chinese music and performance, May is an up and coming talent who sees music as a “warrior galloping across the desert.” Surrounded by the uplifting sounds of ethnic instrumentation as a child, May holds the power of minimalism at the core of her electronic music expression. By giving people the opportunity to experience new and exciting styles of music, she hopes to build a bigger and better electronic music scene in Chengdu for everyone to enjoy. ❀

BCHIR
Rabat, MA

Bchir是一名来自摩洛哥的DJ,他在自己的家乡是一名知名的DJ播客,曾在当地的音乐节以及各大聚会上担任过组织者和DJ. 来到成都以后,在各大电子酒吧举办专场,他也专注于创建自己专属的原创音乐,对Bchir来说,无论通过哪种方式,最重要的是打造一个出色的现场氛围来催眠你的每一根神经,让在场的每一个人跳动起来!

DJ, producer and promoter Bchir has evolved from a humble bedroom mixtape creator, to a festival organizer in the late 2000s, to one of the most well-loved techno DJs in Chengdu. As a DJ with refined musical taste and ability to blow the roof off till 8am, Bchir also spreads the gospel of techno with the Chengdu party collective TechnoPowa. With a diverse bag of tracks and an intuition for the dance floor, Bchir will bring his good vibes and deep hypnotic groove to Aus-atmen this year. ❀


EWAN
Chengdu, CN

凭着对电子音乐的热爱,Ewan在受到数十年古典钢琴的熏陶下,成长为DJ并在北京灯笼俱乐部和Dada演出。他的风格里带有浓郁的后工业和古典浪漫主义音乐的融合。加之他对先锋文化的敏锐度,使其的音乐风格带有极强的符号性。

Ewan favours deep and edgy techno. With strong post industrial and classical romanticism influences combined with him being a true pioneer in music culture, Ewan has developed a strong personal style. Having played at all of Chengdu’s best underground clubs, as well as Lantern and Dada in Beijing, Ewan is now one of the highlights of Chengdu’s dance scene. ❀


XIAOLONG
Chengdu, CN

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2004年开始DJ生涯,2010年始活跃于成都地下电子派对,他专注而执着,用苛求完美的态度、深邃迷人的曲风,层次饱满而极富弹性的律动撩拨着每一根跳舞的神经。

Known for his deep, dance-floor ready house and techno selections, Xiaolong’s sets are unwavering in quality. With over ten years experience at clubs and festivals around China, Xiaolong is one of Chengdu’s most experienced and well-loved DJs. ❀


MIKE RAVELLI
Amsterdam, NL

如今,MIKE RAVELLI在荷兰已被公认在他的音乐里能获得无限的能量,并且不可抑制的受人喜爱。不仅是因为他广受赞誉的作品,还因为他一直支持这些备受喜爱的Techno and House组织,驻在有利的荷兰Techno和房子的组织,如 Shoeless, Perception, Thuishaven 和Beachclub Woodstock 69。所有的这一切已使他赞誉有加并得到了国际所给予的认可。MIKE RAVELLI已经红透整个荷兰,并在这几年开始更多国际性的演出,例如 Katerholzig Berlin, Egg London, Barraca Valencia, 北京灯笼 – 他一直在做他最热爱的事情 -泡在录音棚,制作永不停歇的音乐的,周游世界的同时去分享他对电子音乐的激情。所以用你的信去听听他的作品和音乐吧。

When hearing the likes of Mike Ravelli, don’t be fooled by his undeniable fresh sound, he’s by no means the new kid on the block! He became a pioneering artist with the infamous Amsterdam based ‘GZG’ collective in the early 00’s, known for their wild warehouse parties that changed the face of the electronic scene. From slow and melodic to fast-paced and energy-packed, his music meets the criteria craved by heated dance floors.

Nowadays, Mike Ravelli is recognised in the Netherlands for his borderless energetic sound in his DJ sets and has built a solid reputation as a popular act. Not only his highly acclaimed productions, supported by artists such as Karotte, Edu Imbernon and Dubfire, but also residencies at favourable Dutch techno and house organisations such as Shoeless, Perception, Thuishaven and the notorious Beachclub Woodstock 69 have lead him towards a career with international recognition. ❀


SU
Chengdu, CN

出生于川剧世家的她,从小就对音乐及艺术有着浓厚的兴趣和基础。中学的时候开始接触电子音乐, 从此便迷恋上了这种充满无限创造空间的音乐形式。她始终坚持自己的音乐理想,游走在国内外自己喜欢的派对及电子音乐节,长年在德国、法国、意大利、西班牙等欧洲国家著名电子音乐俱乐部派对及音乐节的现场体验中,萌生了要将真正纯正、高品质的电子音乐及派对带回国内的念头,她逐渐的踏入了音乐推广的行业内,也同时成为一位dj和开始电子音乐制作,希望通过自己对电子音乐的理解和诠释来感染及影响更多的人了解并同样的热爱电子音乐。2014年,她同其他的三位伙伴在成都推出一家地下电子音乐俱乐部 TAG CLUB 其意为 To Another Galaxy,致力于推广电子音乐文化,希望通过这样一个平台,让生活在烦嚣城市生活中的人们,褪去浮躁、烦恼,感受电子音乐的魅力,体验身心灵同电子音乐艺术碰撞的奇妙旅程。同时,四名年轻人亦希望在这样一个充满无限可能的空间里,编织自己的音乐梦想。

Su is one of the co-founders of atmen. Born into a family of Sichuan opera artists, Su grew up surrounded by music and art. First exposed to electronic music in high school, she has had a crush on its infinite space and sound ever since. Having absorbed the energy of German club parties and European electronic festivals for years, Su felt compelled to bring high-quality electronic music to people back home, thus beginning her journey into promotion, DJing and music production.

In 2014, Su and three partners founded an underground electronic music club in Chengdu called .TAG, “To Another Galaxy,” dedicated to pushing electronic music culture and creating a platform for people to create and share a space of endless possibilities and musical dreams. ❀
(Check out Su playing at the Morning Bar after party of Orchestra of Spheres: Te China Rockumentary EP. 2 CHENGDU!)


XIANG
Chengdu, CN

从小在古典音乐的熏陶下成长,大学赴德两年,被电子音乐的能量和声音结构的空间感所吸引,Xiang成为一名techno DJ,将个人对声音的敏锐直觉和感受在现场呈现给大家;她热爱从生活及自然中采集声音,并加入合成器效果,融入电子音乐创作及现场。Xiang与Su共同成立电子音乐厂牌atmen,风格以techno,minimal为主,厂牌包含派对活动、电子音乐制作、服装设计等,并在未来探索更多有趣的领域。同年,响与胥小新一同开展了一个即时视听项目:XX平方,即通过对自然元素及生活细节的采集,即时混合声音及影像,提供一或几种未知的视听角度。

Xiang is one of the co-founders of atmen. Classically trained as a child, two years of university in Germany amidst the backdrop of the mid-2000s techno scene inspired her to become a DJ. Xiang captivates audiences with her intuition for sound and flow – her live set integrates electronic textures from synthesisers and recordings sampled from nature and daily life.

Xiang also collaborates with artist Little New in their audio-visual project XX², amalgamating elements of the natural world and everyday life into a real-time sensory experience. ❀


KR
Wellington, NZ

Kristen是一位来自新西兰的吉他手。她在惠灵顿玩过车库摇滚乐队,也喜欢用四轨机做一些Lo-fi的卧室录音,来到成都认识atmen以后就开始使用数字效果和循环来创造电子噪音。她的影响包括krautrock,实验音乐,碧昂丝和techno。这次Aus-atmen她跟Su和Xiang一起演出。
Yours truly. Transplanted from Wellington, New Zealand, Kristen is a guitarist who comes from a background of garage rock bands and lo-fi bedroom recordings. She uses digital effects and looping to create electronic beats. Her influences range between krautrock, experimental music, Beyoncé and techno. She will play with Xiang and Su on the AUS-STAGE. ❀


CHAMBERLAIN
Beijing, CN / New York, USA

张伯伦 出生在北京 生活在纽约 写诗同时也做声音 也做live performance用诗,声音和视觉交互在一起。
即将就读于在旧金山的Mills College的electronic music and recording media专业 全球最好的Avantgarde Music Academy(先锋音乐学院)。
用声音这个媒介创造空间\环境让人脱离现实/假象。用感官带来的未知,去发现新的可能性。
我相信’气’和能量来自于现在(now) 和每个人都有权利拥有的自由(freedom)。A DJ and a poet. Originally from Beijing, Chamberlain has been studying and living in New York for years. He explores sound that is integrated with body movements and spatiality/sound and architecture, dealing with the sound inside and outside by organizing system of frequencies to intertwine the sonic space and physical space, producing sonic sculptures which remains.
Nothing essential happens in the absence of noise. ❀


HIROSHI
Hiroshima, JP

电子,稳定,日式拉面。
Techno, consistency, Japanese ramen. ❀


Come join us in Flower Town on Saturday 21 May! Full moon!


[  Thanks to our Partners!  ]
Spectrum Maker, Wild Hands, farinablu, Zaomengshe, Steam Hostel, BGC, pangbianr, Kiwese, Rsiii Design, Laidian Project
[  的合作伙伴! ]
谱造司、野手工作室、farinablu、造梦社、蒸汽旅舍、BGC、旁边儿、 奇异思, 来电, 瑞升设计

 

To win a ticket to Aus-atmen 2016 – simply send your name and WeChat contact details to hellokiwese@gmail.com before Tuesday 17 May. Two winners will be drawn on Tuesday!!

 

Orchestra of Spheres in China | EP. 2 CHENGDU

The second instalment of the Orchestra of Spheres x Lady Lazer Light China Tour Doco sees us arrive in the spicy heartlands of Sichuan!

Kiwese stomping grounds! Chengdu baby!

Also on Vimeo!

It’s the second day of the national October holiday break, and we’ve just taken a 19hr overnight train from Beijing to Chengdu.

After arriving at the Chengdu Music Hotel, we chucked back some egg pancakes 煎饼 and a hot sour noodle 酸辣粉 round the corner on Minzhu Lu (R.I.P.). Back in my neighbourhood, I ran back to my house for a quick shower and change of clothes – having been in Beijing for the past three weeks, it was so good to be home and see all my friends, along with this amazing band from Wellington that I had been raving about for the past year!!

The Spheres were playing the headline slot on Day 3 of the second NUART Festival, a three day music, art and tech extravaganza that takes places over two streets and stages, featuring both local and international acts and artists. They played on a street stage built of bamboo to an enormous and adoring crowd of people young and old. Quite simply, Chengdu has never seen anything like it.

The quiet old street of Minzhu Lu, next to where the gang were staying, will be demolished to make way for a music hall complex.

That includes Morning Bar 早上好, our local watering hole and the venue for the Chengdu after party. Following the festival, Lady Lazer Light set up her projector and eyeballs and Riki presented his techno/juke project Cave Circles for the second time on tour, ultimately pushing his soundcard to the state of kaput. My beautiful friend Su from the electronic label atmen had just come back from Germany and brought her minimal techno vibes to the party.

As usual, Morning Bar was bustling with all sorts of friends. I found Riki eating spicy chicken wings with a reggae band from Guizhou at 3am in the morning.

Morning Bar has since been walled off and left to decay, the glass windows and wooden fixtures have been extracted and recycled by local workers, the eateries and stores have ended their decades long business to move elsewhere. When I walk past the old place on Minzhu Lu my heart sinks, now an empty shell of what was such a joyful hub of drunkenness, music and good times.

But when I glimpse over the blue retaining wall and see the Orchestra of Spheres poster still stuck to the alcove outside, I know that is a memory that can never be demolished.

Love you Chengdu, next stop: CHONGQING!

x

The Rise and Demise of Morning Bar 早上好

Rumours have been circulating for months now, but the demolition of Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu has finally become a reality.

Kiwese looks back on the old venue and forward to the new, ahead of Chunyou 春游 2016 this weekend.

zaoshanghao-logo-black

When people ask where I learned to speak Chinese, there are two truths – I studied at Victoria University of Wellington, Beijing Language and Culture University and Sichuan University for five years in three programs. But it was at Zaoshanghao where I really found my voice.

Located on Minzhu Lu 民主路 (Democracy Road), a quiet old street off the First Ring Road in the city centre, Zaoshanghao was a little local bar run by owner Zhang Xin and his crew of can-do local bros. Driven by a DIY attitude, love of chilling and independent music, over the past seven years Zaoshanghao has become a staple venue in the Chengdu music scene as well as the hosts and collaborators of some of the city’s most memorable music festivals.

Zaoshanghao on Minzhu Lu is a five minute walk from my flat or a two minute bike ride. Many friends live even closer; some moved to Jiuyanqiao just to be near it. Stylistically speaking, the crowd is a real mixed bag – hip hop rap stars, rasta potheads, punk guitarists, computer engineers, wandering folk singers, poets, hairdressers, techno producers, experimental cellists, oil painters, and more. Zaoshanghao is the beating heart of our little community.

I’ve celebrated the past two birthdays and New Year’s Eves at Zaoshanghao. I’ve met almost all my friends there. Zaoshanghao and the community of friends that make it great are a huge reason I am living here.

Though not an official ‘livehouse,’ the low stage and banging PA system has spawned random jam sessions, afternoon reggae gigs, experimental shows and impromptu DJ sets. While the majority of shows are hosted at the garden venue in Flower Town, the Minzhu Lu stage has been graced by bands as diverse as Soviet Pop, Noise Temple, Kawa and Jurat T.T.

With a fairly loose chuck-on-your-own music policy, people would be constantly plugging their phones into the main system, filling the weekday airwaves with music to share.

KAWA
Yunnan psych-reggae band Kawa performing an afternoon set at Zaoshanghao. Sept 2015.
Cvalda (Mist) keeping it cool in the courtyard. Sept 2015.
Cvalda (Mist) keeping it cool dub style in the courtyard. Sept 2015.
Cave Circles playing the NUART Festival after party with Su and Lady Lazer Light, during the Chengdu stop of the Orchestra of Spheres China Tour. Oct 2015.
Cave Circles playing the NUART Festival after party w/ Su and Lady Lazer Light on the Chengdu stop of the Orchestra of Spheres China Tour. Oct 2015.
xiang + kr zsh
Xiang on the mix, me on guitar. New Year’s Eve, Dec 2015.

Zaoshanghao catered through the seasons, providing a place of warmth and good company all year round. The courtyard out back is cold beer in the summer and roasting round the fire in the winter. Kittens and spiders scuttled about, the foozball table perpetually in motion. Patti Smith gazed over the space in her white shirt and blazer, while the giant wooden giraffe towered above the stage.

Climb the stairs to the rooftop and you’ll find yourself sitting on a platform among the haggard rooftops of the houses next door. Amidst everyone’s grief about the closure, many have cited the greatest loss as the two banana trees out back, which have grown into ginormous beasts over the past four years due to being smothered in a full bag of fertiliser.

The charm of Zaoshanghao also stems from the neighbourhood. Surrounded by trees, cheap eateries and dilapidated wooden houses, the kind where walls are insulated with compressed ferns and newspapers. Morning traffic consists of elderly folk biking home from the vegetable market, while in the afternoon the street is lined with three-wheeled snack vendors parking up to feed the outpour of students from the music academy.

The sound of musical instruments and school children can be heard floating through the air, punctuated by the distinctive clink-clink-clank of iron hammers from local sweet sellers – the Chengdu version of the Mr. Whippy tune. The buildings are built in the old style, with traditionally tiled rooftops, open balconies and patterned brick window fittings.

roof

ming
Ming Ming, bassist from The Hormones/Hiperson and the Zaoshanghao triceratops. Nov 2015.

Minzhu Lu held the vestiges of the city people once knew, and while towering skyscrapers and identical apartment buildings sprung up like wild grass, Zaoshanghao was a little haven of sanity amidst the madness. People felt comfortable there. It was like home.

In a city that has experienced such rapid, unimaginable change over the past 20 years, it was in this familiar environment that the second Zaoshanghao found it’s roots. Although the buildings were rundown, they were full of character and history, traits which become scarcer and scarcer with every newly built shopping complex.

Minzhu Lu is a quiet residential street off the First Ring Road, properties from 1 through 13 were given their demolition eviction notices late last year. Zaoshanghao is number 13.

Word that Zaoshanghao was going to be 拆掉 demolished began circulating in conversation about a year ago – everything but the date was certain. The government wanted to build a music hall next to the music school, everything had to go.

On several occasions throughout the year, it was said the bar only had two weeks left. Weeks later, we’d still be sitting out back drinking beers.

In November, it sounded as if the news was certain – two weeks left, for 真的 real this time. Residents from the surrounding apartments were shifting out, the moving trucks were being piled up, restaurants pulled their shutters down and pasted notices of thanks to the community for their years of patronage.

Kiwese interviews on the rooftop. Nov 2015.
Kiwese interviews on the rooftop. Nov 2015.

Along with two architect friends, I began to film interviews with friends of Zaoshanghao and local restaurants along Minzhu Lu, with the idea of producing a documentary about the demolition of the street called ‘Goodbye, Democracy Road‘ 《民主路,再见》.

“How long have you lived here?” Yang Yang yelled across to a resident washing the dishes in their sink on the balcony.

“Since 1973,” they replied, “we’ve got to leave by this weekend.”

Everyone was shocked to hear that there were only two weeks left, and as with most Chinese bureaucracy, the issue was shelved for another few months.

All throughout the winter, we converged around the brazier out back, burning the remnants of the old community around us.

Winter was spent sifting through the vacated brick flats for wood, old furniture and pot plants. Some of the stuff the guys found looked like it belonged in a museum. Rescuing the old things before the bulldozers come in and nothing is spared.

With the neighbours gone, the sound system was pumped up to its full potential. New Year’s saw Hiroshi play hard techno until 6am.

Zaoshanghao didn’t officially open again after Chinese New Year.

fire
烤火. Jan 2016.

Demolition of Minzhu Lu started mid-last month at the mouth of the street. A blue wall was put up around the perimeter before being replaced with a brick one, which will likely remain that way for another year or so.

The blue wall now sits around Zaoshanghao and it’s neighbours, marking the inevitable. While many of us are upset, the Zaoshanghao crew are already onto the next. This is the second venue owner Zhang Xin has been evicted from in four years and he is not letting it stop him from continuing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.28.23 pm
The wreck of the first Zaoshanghao on Xiaotong Xiang. Nov 2015.

I’ve been super emotional about the demolition of the old street and community. The evicted residents will be scattered into soulless high rises on the outskirts of the third ring road, forever separated from the neighbours they’ve played mahjong with for the past three decades. The abandoned buildings will be left to decay, then replaced by buildings of the homogenised, modern city blueprint.

For my local friends, the news is sad but commonplace. I listen to their stories about what Chengdu was like when they were young – full of teahouses with big wooden slide doors, street side barbershops, swimming in the river, roads full of bicycles and carts. Now it is enormous high rises, freeways packed with cars and billboard screens. I think about what Wellington was like when I was younger. It more or less the same now. Revisiting spots from one’s childhood is not a possibility that exists for the locals of Chengdu. People have a different perspective on change here, it has been a constant for as long as they can remember.

Sometimes I think that’s why people here like taking photos, as a way of preserving memories when everything has been destroyed.

However, in an endless cycle of destruction and construction, there is life, rebirth and creativity.

Minzhu Lu. Mar 2016.
The demolition of Minzhu Lu has begun. Mar 2016.

Zaoshanghao have started a new venue out in Flower Town: Morning House. Sunshine, fresh air, bird song in the flower-growing village in the south of the city. Moving into the old Xiwo, the crew have established two more stages on either side of the swimming pool. New beginnings, bigger and better. Shit just got real.

In true DIY style, Zaoshanghao have smashed down the fence at the back and expanded into some of the old houses out back, converting them into an electronic music room, rehearsal space and studios for local band Stolen 秘密行动 and folk singer Zhang Xiaobing 张小饼. At the front, they have built a beautiful wooden stage beneath a plot of tall, willowing trees. While the banana trees at Minzhu Lu will be missed, there are plenty more tree friends at the new venue.

The new Zaoshanghao is beautiful and inspired. This weekend it is gonna kick off, as the fourth annual Chunyou rolls around!!

Xiaohu and the new steps he built to the main stage. Apr 2016.
Xiaohu and the new steps he built to the main stage. Apr 2016.

chunyou

春夏秋冬又一年,
时间将逝去的带入新轮回,
同样也孕育了新生。

今年正值Morning早上好七周年,
拆建拆之后,我们和喜蜗合作,
拥有了一个更加舒适宽敞的#Morninghouse#举办本次春游。

【春游】

不仅是每年春天的一次砰然心动,
各色人儿在这个节日里聚集碰撞,
制造出新鲜、疯狂和热爱。

也是一个城市在春天发出的声音,
浓缩着成都的生活方式:
悠闲、安逸、巴适板!

17组国内外优质音乐人,16位武艺高超的DJ
Jam,帐篷电影放映,门球波比德州,
美食和啤酒,以及两天不间断的好春光。
4月23(六)- 4月24(日)
三圣乡Morninghouse,尽兴游起来!

Chunyou is going big this year, with 17 bands and 16 DJs playing on two stages. Making a return from last year’s Chunyou will be local faves Hiperson and Stolen!

Food/Alcohol/Multiple Stages/Open Jam Sessions/Film Screenings/Grassland Croquet/Taca-Taca/Texas Hold’Em Poker and more… Plus the electronic music stage is going 24/7.

See the details below:

ADDRESS:
Morning House 早上好
成都市锦江区三圣乡东篱菊园菊园路112号 早上好
Juyuan Rd 112-Donglijuyuan, Sanshengxiang, Jinjiang, Chengdu

TICKETS:
Get your pre-sales on Zaomengshe.
Doorsales:100rmb(1-day);180(2-days)
Presale:     80rmb(1-day);150(2-days)

4月23日 DAY 1: BAND STAGE 乐队舞台

14:30-15:20   疆与他的朋友们 Jiang with Friends
15:20-16:10   亮子与乐队 Liang Zi
16:10-17:00   Pascal Pinon(Iceland)
17:00-17:50   Kingkong&The Chum(Thailand)
17:50-18:40   Apollo 20
19:30-20:20   海朋森 Hiperson
20:20-21:10   未之域 Terra Incognita
21:10-22:00   罗友生 Luo You Sheng
22:00-22:50   秘密行动 Stolen
22:50-23:40   声音玩具 Soundtoy

4月24日 DAY 2: BAND STAGE 乐队舞台

14:30-15:20   汪文伟 Wang Wen Wei(SH)
15:20-16:10   张尧 Zhang Yao(CQ)
16:10-17:00   黄晶与乐队 Huang Jing(CQ)
17:00-17:50   搞乐队 Gao Band
17:50-18:40   Jahwahzoo
19:30-20:20   树子 Shuzi
20:20-21:10   Don Camilo(France)
21:10-22:00   说唱会馆 CDC

4月23日 DAY 1: ELECTRONIC STAGE 电子舞台

14:00-15:00   Eric Huang
15:00-16:30   Xiaolong
16:30-18:00   Su
18:00-19:30   Xiang
19:30-22:00   Sulumi(BJ)
22:00-00:30   BBdeng(TW)

4月24日 DAY 2: ELECTRONIC STAGE 电子舞台

00:30-03:00   DIO(BJ)
03:00-05:30   Yang Bing(BJ)
05:30-07:30   Sunyoung
07:30-09:30   Voko X
09:30-11:30   Blue
11:30-14:00   chill set
14:00-16:00   Cvalda & Ni Bing(BJ)
16:30-18:00   Summer & Nature Bao
18:00-19:30   Ewan
19:30-21:30   Harry Ho
21:30-23:30   Mickey Zhang(BJ)


tree

I am going to be playing with techno kweens Su and Xiang from atmen in creating some dark grooves on the Electronic stage!

Kiwese is very glad to join the Zaoshanghao crew this year in making videos and doing interviews! Stay tuned for more soon..

See you at Chunyou!

 

Favourite Shows 2015

What makes a ‘good show’? The artist? The venue? The crowd? Here is a list of ten shows in chronological order that left an impression on Kiwese this year.

“Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.” – Frank Zappa

To me, live music is a symbiotic relationship between performer and audience, they need each other to exist. There is an unfiltered bond between the artist and the crowd at every show, an unrepeatable experience in time and space. The shows I tend to enjoy most are the ones where the crowd is engaging somehow with the performers, whether through dancing or cheering or stage invading – letting the performers know they are not alone.

With the increase of computers in music production today, old expectations of live music have shifted to accommodate these new digital elements. While some critics believe computers detract from a live show, artists are creating and embracing interesting new ways to perform with digital technology. In China, going out to a gig in 2015 no longer means bass-drums-guitar, but rather something that echoes the digital world we live in.


 

2015.01.31
South Acid MiMi Dance Team @
MAO Livehouse Kunming
南方酸性咪咪领舞队在昆明MAO Livehouse

I stumbled into a South Acid MiMi show in Kunming in January and never looked back. Officially indoctrinated into the girl cult of face masks, weird music, freaky dancing and lots of whiskey. Very stoked to have been able to collaborate with them and Lady Lazer Light in October. This early MiMi show was filled with lots of experimental instruments and props, which have since been refined into three keyboards, a laptop and percussion.


2015.04.17
Noise Temple @ Little Bar Chengdu
黄金+绵羊在小酒馆

Noise Temple is hypnotic, digital, dark – the syncing together of VJ Mian’s visual projections and Huang Jin’s razor sharp drumming abilities makes for a unique pulsating of the senses. This show featured contemporary dancers (thought I’d see pigs fly at Little Bar first) and vocal/instrumental cameos from various musicians. Unfortunately, Huang Jin has since moved to Beijing to join Re-TROS so Noise Temple no longer play with the blessed regularity we had gotten used to in Chengdu.

Video below is from another show at Morning Bar in April.


2015.04.25
Aus-atmen @ Xiwo, Chengdu
Luna, Cvalda, Hiroshi, Xiang, Su

New techno/minimal/ambient music label Atmen had their debut party in an empty swimming pool in the leafy outskirts of Flower Town. Featuring Cvalda, Hiroshi, Xiang and Su, playing to the early morning. Enough said.


2015.06.26 – 2015.06.28
Neverland Electro Music Festival @ Wulong Fairy Mountain, Chongqing
山谷露营电子音乐节 仙女山 武隆 重庆

Two days, two nights, two stages – Neverland 2015 returned to the misty mountains outside of Chongqing, following their first festival in 2013. Neverland is a collaboration between NUTS and Morning Bar, attracting fans and friends from Chengdu, Chongqing and surrounding regions such as Guizhou. Camping festivals are few and far between in China, and Neverland beautifully fills the need.

The location is sublime – rolling green hills, white flowing mist and cloudless skies. The main stage saw DJs from around the region bring everything from swing to techno, while the psytrance community stayed entranced with their own 24/7 party at the stage on the flat. A very low key and awesome festival, with only a couple of hundred punters and no security. Amped for next year!

Neverland poster


2015.07.03
Hiperson @ Little Bar Space Chengdu
海朋森在小酒馆空间

When Hiperson set out to tour ‘No Need For Another History’ 《我不要别的历史》, they returned as a different band. Several hundred friends and fans turned up to the new big Little Bar (the new/old/big Little Bar thing is gonna get confusing) to welcome them home, and they sure as hell delivered. Kiwese became the first person to ever stage dive at a Hiperson show – life achievement unlocked.

Chen Sijiang, who’d shaved all her hair off in Shenzhen, completely commanded the stage with guitarists Ji Yinan and Liu Zetong thrashing about in the wings and Tao Ge bopping with conviction on bass. When the band went silent for Sijiang’s monologue and the spotlight lit her shaved head and wide-open eyes, you could hear a pin drop as the entire crowd sat in the palm of her hand. A mighty performance from one of Chengdu’s favourite bands.


2015.08.01
Stolen ‘Loop’ Album Release Show @ U37
w/ Dead J and Noise Temple
秘密行动《循环》专辑首发演出

Chengdu turned out in droves for Stolen’s album release show at an empty warehouse in U37. Perhaps some of us were a little TOO excited – I almost broke my ankle in the mosh pit and had to be carried husband-bride style to a taxi by my flatmate. Nevertheless, an epic show from a band that has become one of the most talked about acts in China this year. That synth-bass break in A Glossy Flirt has become my official pogo beer shower anthem.

Managed to catch Stolen on tour in Guangzhou and Beijing as well, but the energy at this album release home show was unparalleled.


2015.09.18
Shocking Pinks @ School Bar Beijing
震惊粉红色在北京学校酒吧

Kiwese caught an overnight train from Chengdu to catch Shocking Pinks first show in China at the notorious School Bar in Beijing. The formula of Ash Smith (bass) and Cory Champion (drums) that was concocted last year at Puppies is still solid, as Nick Harte led them through a selection of songs from his previous albums to a responsive and dance-ready crowd. Check out the interview at live performance of ‘Smoke Screen’ in the video below.

IMG_1935
Shocking Pinks, School Bar Beijing. Photo by Kiwese

 

2015.09.29 – 2015.10.11
Orchestra of Spheres + Lady Lazer Light China Tour
星迹乐团和女士拉泽光中国巡演

Dreams do come true! This year Orchestra of Spheres (Xīngjī Yuètuán) came to China, YEAH HARD! In a twist of seriously awesome timing, their hometown partner-in-crime Lady Lazer Light was in Beijing on an art residency and brought her cosmic visions on tour! Crowds in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Dali, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Wuhan were given their first taste of OOS magic.

In addition to OOS, special side-shows included Cave Circles + Globular Synthesis at Brothers BBQ in Feijiacun, The Niubis in Chongqing and a Cave Circles + Su live techno set at Morning Bar Chengdu.

Big love to Baba Rossa, Mos Ioccos, EtonalE, Woild Boin and Lady Lazer Light putting their faith in Kiwese and being incredibly rad people.


2015.12.17
múm @ Little Bar Space Chengdu
在小酒馆空间

A band that uses cello and melodica – I was prepared to hate this. Pronounced miooyyuujm, Icelandic atmospheric-music-to-have-sex-to band múm gave us a spiritual show of delicate vocal harmonies and careful layering of instruments, alongside slow panning lights and dramatic hisses of fog – the singer’s pixie sigh of ‘xie xie‘ the only thing that would break the audience out of their sonic incantations. At times I felt like I was sinking into the ground, no one was moving. My favourite part was when the singer started to theatrically rip her own head off – see video below.


2015.12.18 – 2015.12.19
Ein-atmen @ Chengdu Air Raid Shelter
在成都金里西路放空

And finally, to round off the year, the crew from Atmen and Morning Bar hosted a two-night techno party in an air raid bunker in downtown Chengdu. Music wise – the first night featured Tanzman, Su, Ewan and Haozi and the second night continued with Xiaolong, Xiang and Hiroshi. Visual artists projected their works throughout the shelter all weekend. The air raid shelter is like nothing I’ve seen before – long corridors of old concrete rooms and rusty steel fittings.

With Chengdu undergoing so much construction and change, it was beautiful to be part of something so fresh and innovative in the underground chasms of the city. This is what it is all about – people coming together to build events in new spaces.

Read the Zaomengshe interview with Su and Xiang here.


 

Want to find out about events before they happen? Many of these events sold pre-sale tickets on Zaomengshe, download the app to keep in the loop! www.zaomengshe.com

Happy new year to all! See you next year!