Low Wormwood — We Can't Help Kissing Each Other
(Tenzenmen 046tzm, 2009, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-05-06I first heard this band back in 2008, when the Chinese Miniless label released a live set called 五指 (Five Fingers) for free download. The band was credited as 低苦艾 (Di Ku'ai), which translates as Low Wormwood, so I suppose that's the best way to refer to them. When I found out that Maybe Mars, one of China's foremost independent labels, was picking them up, I was a little surprised — the live set was decent, but hadn't really grabbed me. With this, their studio debut, my reservations are proven baseless. Low Wormwood's music sounds more or less like a folk singer augmented by a full band and an imaginative producer. The vocals are nearly all front and center, and they're all in Chinese; singer Liu Kun has a slightly gravelly, low-keyed voice that some listeners might find off-putting. I find the occasional shakiness very emotional, and I can catch enough of the lyrics to enjoy even without full understanding. I'm pretty sure that Chinese folk-rock is never going to catch on widely outside of China (and probably has limited exposure even there), but I find this very pleasing to listen to. Some moments are so simple and delicate, like "Little Flower," with just two acoustic guitars and the lead vocal. Others ramp up the volume, adding the bass, drums, and distorted electric guitar. And there are electronic touches, like voices recorded off the radio and the like, that really contribute to the atmosphere and lend a hint of psychedelia. The mood is generally subdued rather than energetic, and aside from the language, never stamps itself as overly "Chinese." In short, unless the language barrier puts you off, this is music well worth hearing.
Related artist(s): Low Wormwood
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
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more