Buyi — Namejiu (That Long)
(no#, 2007, CD)
Buyi — Buyi
((Not on label) no#, 2004, CD)
Buyi — Hebuwande Jiu (Endless Wine) Live
(Pocket CN-A65-08-424-00AJ6, 2008, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2008-10-01
Sometimes I think that every tradition of folk music must at some point have its own Fairport Convention. Of course it’s an oversimplification, but in broad terms we can say that FC melded English folk music with the rock music of their time, creating the hybrid generally known as folk-rock. Other bands have played the same role in other parts of the world, from Scandinavia to Mexico to Africa. I don’t know for sure if Buyi is the first band to do this with Chinese folk music (mainly Ningxia, but also Shaanxi and other provinces), but they are certainly the best band I’ve yet heard making the effort. Given the decades of music that have passed around the world, these players have the advantage of a wide variety of influences to play with, from old time rock and roll to arena rock to ska. The band started in about 1995, but it wasn’t until 2003 that they put out a six-track demo CD; it was reissued a year later with four live tracks added. At this point, they played solid folk-based rock music consisting of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, and occasional harmonica backing Wu Ningyue’s pleasant, slightly gravelly voice. The last of the original tracks is the first to feature guitarist Zhang Wei on the guzheng, the Chinese ancestor of the Japanese koto. To my ear, the ancient instrument is well integrated into the arrangement, not merely used as a trapping or gimmick. The track, “Shishi Nanliao” (which means something like “You Never Know”) is a slow-building 11 minute epic that reminds me a little of Fairport’s classic “A Sailor’s Life.” The live tracks are rougher, but perfectly listenable, and feature some keyboard work.
Their first proper full-length release is Name Jiu (which means "That Long" or "So Long," as in "It's been so long"), and it's a great step up in most respects. Performances all around are stellar, with the lead vocals emotive and earthy, and the backing vocals spot-on with shimmering harmonies; the production is clear and expansive, natural and powerful, providing perfect balance between the electric and acoustic instruments. The guzheng is featured on a large number of the tracks in both lead and supporting roles.
The band’s most recent outing consists of live versions of four tracks from Name Jiu, two from the demo (one of them substantially reworked), four new tunes, a drum solo and a traditional song. The sound quality is excellent, and given its greater availability it’s a great introduction to the band – definitely worth seeking out if you’d like to see how tradition meets innovation in today’s China.
Related artist(s): Buyi
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more