Ying Wang: Tun-Tu, Chamber Music Renewed

review wang x1 cong

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the words “chamber” and “music” in the title; this is as far removed from Mozart as deathgrind outfit Cattle Decapitation are from the Spice Girls.

The interesting sleeve notes explain that Wang was born in Shanghai and grew up listening to western classical music, but when she moved to Germany to study, had to deal both the new culture and the expectation that she herself would produce “exotic” Chinese-influenced compositions. She turned to electronic music.

The title track opens and is for baritone saxophone and electronics, the two inputs interacting in a way that sounds improvised but is not. Tun-Tu are the Chinese terms for both the universe and for breathing. Wave In D is for accordion and electronics and expands on the idea that waves are not bodies of moving water but moving energy, as indeed are we, acting as temporary repositories of energy until death releases it.

Coffee and Tea looks at Asian and European cultures via the eponymous hot drinks, which themselves have a deep culture.

Musically, it’s 50% silence and 50% sound, the sound being either real instruments (Nikola Lutz, saxophone; Teodoro Anzellotti, accordion; Nina Janßen-Deinzer, clarinet; Isao Nakamura drums) or Wang’s electronics. It’s got an electronic stop-start feel and is not organic, though it’s never particularly harsh. Melody and tune there are none; more, it’s clusters of sound round a central point. One track (Glissadulation) accompanied an art installation but you could imagine all the work being played in a gallery in conjunction with art; it’s not really music to listen to but music to surround yourself with.

For fans of modern experimentation, though glissadulation is a word we can all enjoy.

Out on Wergo, WER 73472.

Wang: Tun Tu. Chamber Music Renewed

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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