(english below)
(原载 vice 中国 noisy 音乐网刊2019年9月30日。该网站已于2019年10月1日停止更新。于2019年10月15日下线)

有一天作家康赫说起他对闫玉龙的印象:松松垮垮,半死不活。
这很可能不是原话,因为我的记忆也松松垮垮。但我记得他说到的那场演出。那是2016年3月的一次“客厅巡演”,康赫也参加了,他在洗手间朗读让-热内。那天闫玉龙穿着超大的外套,开了线的旧皮鞋,戴着一副皱皱巴巴的白手套,用一支垂下许多断毛的弓演奏小提琴。当然那场演出他并没有真的触到琴弦,也就是说几乎是无声的。说它“几乎”,是因为演奏并不精确,又不小心触到了几次。不知道这个“不小心”是不是也可以包含在他的意图之中,是一种不精确的乐风,抑或是一种不精确的人的风格?总之,它大概也算是松松垮垮的。
(文章写好后我查了一下记录。那天闫玉龙并没有戴手套,而且不是独奏。所以我把两场演出混到一起了。)
康赫是1960年代生人。他的写作,包括他的“影像写作”,建立在大量微小单元的组合的基础上,它们转换、嵌套,尽管每个单元都是独立的,但整体结构却很宏大,甚至繁复,效果上呢有强烈的表演性。他需要表演者给出更激烈的主体,至少不是无聊。他有一个对立面,那就是到现在仍很繁荣的浪漫主义文化,或者说农业文明的文化:连续的、象征的、自我神秘化的,这里面的主体也很旺盛,所以就产生了斗争:就像斯特拉文斯基和尼金斯基在1913年和巴黎观众的斗争。闫玉龙是不是他的另一个对立面呢?我说不上,因为很显然,松松垮垮这件事是回避斗争的,主体是弱化了的,斗争者可能会因为找不到对手而生气。
按照传统的论述,摇滚乐是现代主义结构中的斗争,让受到父权文明压迫的男孩子有机会哭泣,和反抗,以及狂欢,那么闫玉龙所在的吹万乐队又是怎么回事呢?还有 snapline 乐队呢?他们不大像是在狂欢,或者不如说他们是低温的,到了今年出现的新乐队阿部熏没有未来,差不多就到了乐队的冬天。最近10年来,我主要的合作者,都来自这样一个低温的背景。从 d-22 酒吧,到 xp 俱乐部,我认识了一些松松垮垮的人,很难说是不是半死不活,但看起来性欲并不旺盛是真的。

好吧,我并不想要介绍一种特定的音乐,更不是要曝光一个特定的场景,不如说我想在完全不具备客观性、权威性的前提下,近乎于自言自语地发表一些猜想。这种猜想对我个人的意义,显然要大过其他人,包括谈到的人和将要读到它的人。也就是说,对于其他人来说,这些猜想的意义,就只存在于“哦这个人是这样想的”之中。

那么介绍一下思路:2014年我写过一个文章叫《帝国的缺席者》,那里面是说,旋律曾经是有意义的,但旋律后来失去了原生的功能,也就是和人的直接的关系。在1990年代,它承担了安慰创伤的功能,同时也得到了投资和再生产,变成了旋律的旋律和旋律的旋律的旋律。我们更像是歌曲这种模式的应激装置,所有的情感都已经预设好了,就等着被激发,然后进入再生产的循环。这样噪音就有了它的合理性,因为它不是比喻,也不是象征,它根本就不是一套符号,不能换算成一组意义(就像一张美金换算成几张人民币)。噪音是需要触摸的。所以它出现在系统之外,可能会重建和人的直接联系。
我提到了阿多诺的“奥斯维辛之后没有诗”,那个意思是,诗本身需要从虚构的象征系统中脱离出来。不可以再有浪漫主义或者浪漫主义版本的古典主义,语言必须承担起责任,不要虚构一种崇高或者纯净。毕竟,人就是由语言塑成的啊。但因为对阿多诺的反感,我也说,阿多诺这句话的表述本身就有问题,它专断、绝对,还带着一种帅气的表现性,这恰好是一种打扮成现代主义模样的浪漫主义。
所以,这样就有了对噪音的猜想:我有一个朋友叫老羊,10来年前,读完阿塔利的《噪音,声音的政治经济学》之后,他说,噪音就是反抗。那时候我们都喜欢大音量噪音,迷幻噪音,还有浓烈吵闹的即兴音乐,“生命是奔放的”。但我也在研究另一些噪音,也就是说冷静的噪音,小声的噪音,还有莫名其妙就出声就没声的即兴音乐。我猜想噪音并不代表反抗,因为如果噪音是自由的,那么它就没有意义,如果它是没有意义的,那又怎么能换算成“反抗”这个意义呢。然而话说回来,如果这种噪音,就像是日常生活中的杂音,完全没有意义的,那还要我们干什么呢?这个作品和那个作品和这个杂音和那个杂音,又有什么区别呢?所以这个猜想就持续到了下一个10年。

2009年,朱文博开始在 xp 俱乐部办演出,是每个周二的晚上,叫做“燥眠夜”。什么都有,谁都可以尝试一些连自己也不知道是什么的东西,换言之就是可以敞开做实验,但并不一定是实验音乐。后来其中一些常来玩的人发展出一个词,叫做“冷场乐队”,或者“冷场音乐”。也就是给别人暖场,结果搞砸了,大家都冷了。说真的我很喜欢这种冷笑话。当我尴尬的时候,或者别人尴尬的时候,我都会体验到陌生的电流,就像多活了一天似的。好,“燥眠夜”是从 pk 14 那里来的典故。pk 14 也并不是很热的那种,有点抽筋,但大家还是很难理解怎么就变冷了呢。我的猜想是,这帮人实在是太不爱说话了,这大概和性格有关,也吻合某种社会风气,不说话,不表现,不生孩子。
我猜想社会对语言是压迫性的存在。一方面,新的概念实在太多了,信息过载,人们没有足够的语言来理解和描述世界,写个标语都写得颠三倒四,这样就导致旧语言的回归。这也可以解释,为什么旋律在今天这么受欢迎。另一方面,社会的碾压不一定从经济和政治层面,而是首先从语言层面进行,比如说韵文和叠句的存在,不管是官场上的口号还是工间操的口号,还是加之于小朋友们的三字经,这些条件反射般的韵律的循环,首先是对身体的管理,而且它扼制了个体的语言生产,把人发送回到古老的集体的前语言状态之中。这也解释了,为什么今天音乐中的节奏比较简单。你可能会说广场舞是一种半死不活的存在,但是,归根到底,有谁愿意并且能够完全地活着呢?
还有网络热词。也包括各种圈子和各种文化的词,比如股票评论家的那套特别讲道理的说话方式。人们用它来对付散沙状态。我们因此有了认同感,归属感,也可以将一些人排除在外。每一个词都对应于特定的一套反应,在这种反应中就有了共同体。这就像以前人们看电视,看一样的节目,学会一样的词和典故,这几乎就能诞生一个国家了。不过,它的背景,恰恰是越来越散沙的趋势,互相听不懂在说什么,也很少人愿意用原生的、个人的语言来说话。这就像超市里摆满了商品,选择哪个商品,就加入哪一国,diy 自己缝衣服的人没有国籍。
燥眠夜一直办到了2015年 xp 关门。冷场的人很多,我比较熟的有:朱文博本人、赵丛、程序员李松(现在在伦敦了)、李青和李维斯(包括他们的二重奏“苏维埃波普”)、闫玉龙、刘心宇(他现在专心做乐队)。2014年,之前不定期举办的“密集音乐会”开始固定在时差空间举办(到2017年底),他们也经常参加。这些我合作比较多的人,有的能演奏一点乐器,包括电子设备,有的不能。大多数人同时还是(低温的)摇滚乐队成员。密集的意思其实是指精简、提纯,因为以前办演出太多,说话太多了。他们会提醒我少说一点。
后来有一次,大概是2015年,我和其中的几个人做一次客厅巡演,认识了阿科。她是观众,用帮忙做饭的方式换取门票,但那场演出她(和插画师术)做饭的声音也算在演出的一部分了。后来她在废品回收站买了把小提琴,然后就开始参加演出了。她也不爱说话。因为根本没有音乐经验,她也就只能表演那种什么都不是的东西,比如说持续但不很稳定的静态拉弦:咯——吱——。再后来她就越来越多表演艺术、身体艺术的元素。再后来,身边出现越来越多的作曲作品,她也作曲。也就是说更接近于早期激浪派的指令作曲,但要稍微长一点,而且通常并不惊世骇俗。那么同时,朱文博的作曲可能是建立在简单的逻辑基础上的,闫玉龙的可能是经典极简派的(现在他和盛洁、守望在搞一个作曲厂牌,叫做 maybe noise),我的可能是偏概念性的或者表演性的。作曲这件事,最近的10年里,在各国即兴圈都很普遍,可能是因为有助于削弱即兴音乐里面过剩的“自我”,也可能只是想要认真地玩些小游戏。当然,别人可能觉得这不能算是作曲,那么就叫它“指令”也可以吧。总之都是些开放的、超简单的、毫无技巧的作品,从效果上看,通常是安静的,但不制造气氛,而是混合在环境之中。
阿科的存在给我提供了另一个猜想,也就是说,对我之前说的提纯这个概念的延伸:如果取消它的张力,把那个强烈的安静或者简洁改成不强烈的什么东西呢?这就带出来一个对约翰·凯奇之后的“寂静”的猜想:寂静已经被客体化了,已经变得非常大声了,也并不开放了。换句话说,原本是非语言状态,现在它是语言而且是僵死的语言了。禅机变成了死机了。阿科的松松垮垮的作品提醒我,是不是可以让寂静回到“无声”。无声而已。这样,不但是让噪音的强烈的无意义变成“没有意义而已”,也从源头让自我表达安静下来。
在阿科之后,又出现一个完全没有音乐经验的人,她叫安子,也是从观众变成表演者的。她也非常安静。她的第一次表演,是一片一片把薯片烧掉。最近我们的一次合作,是各自用手机录下《李尔王》里的台词片段,现场即兴组成对话。她的安静会传达出很怪异的东西,而且也并不松弛,有时候甚至令人紧张。我在这里的猜想是,提纯的过程,是要清除杂质的,从“无声”到“寂静”,也是清除杂质,从现场到录音棚,更是清除杂质。那么,怎么样才能去提纯杂质本身呢?杂质需要提纯吗?
此外苏维埃波普也给我带来一个猜想。主要是李维斯演奏四轨磁带机这件事。他的声音含混,缓慢,搞不清楚哪些是故意发出的,哪些是机器杂音,哪些是操作时附带的。结构上也没有所谓的起承转合这种逻辑。这就区别于整个的现代主义的语言:它拒绝分析。在这种演奏中,人和机器是一体的,音乐和日常生活是一体的,有用和没用也是一体的。后来,2018年的一次密集音乐会,李青演了一个作品,叫做《一件想做的事》。我不想描述它,只想说,这种简单的“想做”,让所有这些事情变得结实起来,它就是主动性。语言不一定要生成稳定的形式,它只要给大家提供“生成”这样的可能,这就是作者的主动性,而且,它鼓励观众的主动性。

2017年,我和朱文博编辑了一盒磁带,叫做“there is no music from china”。这是应一个新西兰厂牌的邀请而做的。我猜想对方想要宣布一个“来自中国的音乐”,所以就和这种期待开个玩笑。但同时它也可以是“来自中国的一种叫做 no music 的东西”。一个双关语的游戏。从这个角度看,游戏似乎是比身体性更重要的一层:脑筋急转弯,而不是激情、节奏,或者表达态度。但如果说游戏也是身体性的一种,可能就更容易理解一些:我猜想,身体也是遭到现实碾压的,比如说,有很多人都得了抑郁症,也有人已经死掉了,这不正常。身体可能会用不同于压路机的语言结构来反应,比如说它可能对韵文没兴趣,对成为另一个庞然大物没兴趣,或者它会使用一种神经病或者抑郁症的语言,又或者它说不出话来,只能抖动和哼唧。总而言之它不一定生产意义,但它会去面对这个意义过剩而且意义自我循环的现实。那些松松垮垮的身体也是身体啊,而且它形成了自身的逻辑(或者称之为弱逻辑?)。如果把身体看做一种机器,其中的生物电现象构成了我们称之为“自我”的幻觉,那么,游戏也罢,哼唧也罢,逻辑短路也罢,都是这个机器背着自我的权力而做的事,它经常这样做,这再自然不过了。
我这样说,并不是要给自己和朋友做的事情一个高度,此外,这些事情也并不是跟随在论述的后面发生的。只是试着这样猜想而已。我愿意这些都是错的,没有关系。
对,大概是2017到2018年,朱文博把自己的简介改成了“致力于不像音乐的音乐”。2018年,我开始写一个系列的随笔,叫做“可能不是音乐”。然后还是2018年,我们在歌德学院开始一个系列的演出,主要是和德国艺术家合作,叫做“不是音乐会”,这里面出现了声光装置、当代舞蹈、类似戏剧的表演性音乐、欧洲还原主义的作曲、各行其是的集体表演……第二回的表演后,德国的朋友说到我们(“即兴委员会”)的作品,她说有的人声音太大,压住了别人的声音。我个人的理解是这样的:平衡和民主,是欧洲的传统,但如果我相信声音之间的平等,就应该相信大声和小声的平等,并且创造机会去呈现这种平等。当然现实不一定吻合这样的解释,也不需要去吻合,但人对事情的理解一定会改变他们做的事情。
总之,现在被称之为“实验音乐”、“前卫音乐”、“声音艺术”的东西很多了,我宁愿以上提到的都不在这些标签里。也的确如此,因为论述是超越现实的,它表达一种方向,而不是事实。那些音乐,或者随便你叫它什么吧,就是事实而已。这些东西并不具备任何的重要性,它只和不多的几个作者和10到100个观众有关,可能也不配称之为音乐或者艺术,好在也不浪费社会资源,并且还使这些人愉快。所以说,不是音乐也没有关系。就是这样。

朱文博的燥眠夜磁带厂牌:https://zoominnight.bandcamp.com/
there is no music from china:https://zoominnight.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-no-music-from-china
阿科 – 咦(系列一):http://www.subjam.org/archives/3682
李青 – 一件想做的事:http://www.subjam.org/archives/3640
不是音乐会第一回:http://www.subjam.org/archives/3674
不是音乐会第二回:http://www.subjam.org/archives/3759
客厅巡演:http://www.yanjun.org/archives/category/project/living-room
《帝国的缺席者》:http://www.yanjun.org/archives/1338
可能不是音乐

It’s ok if it’s not
Yan Jun

Translation by Josh Feola and Emma Xiaoming Sun

The writer Kang He talked about his impression of Yan Yulong one day: loosey-goosey, half-dead.

Those may not have been his exact words, because my memory’s also loosey-goosey. But I do remember the show he was talking about. It was a “living room tour” in March, 2016. Kang He was part of the show. He was reading Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the bathroom. Yan Yulong was wearing an oversized coat, tattered old leather shoes, and a pair of wrinkly white gloves while playing the violin with a fuzzy bow that had a lot of dangling hairs. Of course, he never really touched the violin strings during that show, so the performance was almost silent. I say “almost” because the show wasn’t executed with precision. He accidentally touched the strings a few times. I don’t know if these “accidents” were intentional. Was it an imprecise musical style, or an imprecise personal style?

(After writing this article, I checked the records. Yan wasn’t wearing gloves that day, and he wasn’t playing solo. So I must have mixed up two shows.)

Kang He was born in the 1960s. His writing, including his “photographic writing,” is built on the foundation of many tiny units. They convert into and nest within each other. Though each unit is independent, the structure as a whole is grand, even repetitive. It conveys a strong sense of performance.

He needs performers to have an intense subjectivity, or at least make it not boring. He has an opposite: the still very much alive romantic culture, or the culture of agricultural civilization: continuous, symbolic, self-mythologizing. The subjectivity of this culture is also very strong, so there is a struggle, like Stravinsky and Nijinsky struggling with a Parisian audience in 1913. Is Yan Yulong another opposite of Kang He? I can’t say, because it’s obvious that Yan’s performative looseness is a tactic to avoid struggle, and the fighter might get angry because he can’t find his opponent.

According to traditional discourse, rock music is a struggle within a modernist structure that gives boys who are oppressed by patriarchal civilization the opportunity to cry, resist, and revel. Then what about the band Chui Wan, to which Yan Yulong belongs? And Snapline? They don’t seem to be partying, or maybe it’s better to say that they’re low-temperature. By the time the new band Kaoru Abe No Future appeared this year, it was almost a winter for bands in Beijing. Over the past 10 years, my main collaborators have come from this low-temperature background. From D-22 to XP, I’ve met some loose people. It’s hard to tell if they’re half-dead, but it seems that the overall libido is not strong.

OK, I don’t want to introduce a specific kind of music, let alone expose a specific scene. It’s better to say that I want to express some conjectures almost to myself, without objectivity or authority. This kind of conjecture means more to me personally than others, including those who talk about it and those who will read it. In other words, for other people, the meaning of these conjectures only exists as “Oh, this person thinks so.”

Let me introduce the idea: In 2014, I wrote an article titled “Absent of the Empire.” In it I wrote that melody used to be meaningful, but later lost its original function — that is, its direct relationship with people. In the 1990s, melody took on the function of comforting trauma, and at the same time it was invested in and mass-produced, becoming a melody of a melody, and a melody of a melody of a melody. We are like a stress-release device in the form of a song: all emotions have been preset, waiting to be stimulated, and then enter the cycle of reproduction. In this way, noise has its rationality, because it is not a metaphor, nor a symbol. It is not a set of symbols at all and cannot be converted into a set of meanings (like a dollar is converted into a few renminbi). The noise needs to be touched. So it appears outside the system and may rebuild direct contact with people.

I mentioned Adorno’s line, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” which means that poetry itself needs to be separated from the fictional symbol system. There can be no more romanticism, or romantic versions of classicism. Language must bear the responsibility, there’s no need to invent an ideal of Purity or Sublimity. After all, people are made of language. But because of my dislike of Adorno, I also said that Adorno’s words are inherently problematic. They’re arbitrary, absolutist, and handsomely expressed in a style that happens to be romanticism dressed as modernism.

Therefore, here is a conjecture about noise: I have a friend named Lao Yang. After reading Jacques Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music ten years ago, he said that noise is resistance. At that time, we all liked loud noise, psychedelic noise, and strong and loud improvisational music, “Life is unrestrained.” But I was also studying other noise: calm noise, quiet noise, randomly loud randomly silent improvisational music. I guess noise does not mean resistance, because if noise is free, then it has no meaning. If it is meaningless, how can it be converted into the meaning of “resistance”? However, having said that, if this kind of noise is like a murmur in daily life, and is completely meaningless, then what should we do? What is the difference between this work and that work, this noise and that noise? So this conjecture continued for the next ten years.

In 2009, Zhu Wenbo began to organize concerts at D-22 every Tuesday, a weekly series called “Zoomin’ Night.” Anyone could try something, even if they didn’t know what it was. In other words, they could openly experiment, but it was not necessarily experimental music. Later, some of the people who went there often came up with the term “cold band”, or “cold music”. That is, an opening band that’s supposed to warm the audience up, but the result is off, and everyone feels awkward. [Translator’s note: the Chinese term “冷场” literally “warm field,” is used for opening bands; the term “冷场” is an inversion of this, swapping “warm” for “cold”.] I really like this kind of cold joke. When I’m embarrassed, or when others are embarrassed, I experience strange electric currents, as if I had lived an extra day. Well, the name “Zoomin’ Night” is an allusion to P.K.14. P.K.14 is also not very hot, a little twitchy, but it’s still difficult for everyone to understand why it became cold. My guess is that this group of people is really not talkative. This may have something to do with personality, and it is also in line with a certain social ethos. They don’t talk, show off, or have children.

I guess society is oppressive to language. On one hand, there are too many new concepts, information overload, people don’t have language sufficient to understand and describe the world. Incoherently written slogans proliferate, which leads to the return of the old language. This can also explain why melody is so popular today. On the other hand, the crushing of society is not necessarily carried out at the economic and political level, but at the linguistic level first. For example, as the existence of verse and repetitive phrases, whether they’re official slogans, workplace exercises, or additions to children’s Confucian textbooks. These reflexive rhythmic cycles are first of all a technique for managing the body, and also a means to suppress an individual’s language production, sending people back to the ancient collective pre-linguistic state. This also explains why the rhythm in music today is relatively simple. You might say that dancing in the public square is a half-dead existence, but in the final analysis, who is willing and able to live completely?

There are also hot words on the internet. These include special languages from all kinds of scenes and subcultures, such as the particularly reasonable mode of speaking used by stock critics. People use it to come to terms with the disorganized, incoherent state of things. We therefore have a sense of shared identity and belonging, and we can also exclude some people. Each word corresponds to a specific reaction, and within each reaction is a community. It’s just like before when people watched TV, they watched the same programs, learned the same words and cultural references. This is practically enough to birth a nation. However, in the background, it’s precisely the opposite trend: people are becoming more and more disorganized and incoherent, they can’t understand what the other is saying, and very few people are willing to speak in a native, personal language. It’s like a supermarket full of goods. Choose which country to be in like you choose which product to buy. People who sew their own clothes have no nationality.

Zoomin’ Night ran until 2015, when XP closed. There are many people in the “cold music” field. I am familiar with: Zhu Wenbo himself, Zhao Cong, programmer Li Song (now in London), Li Qing and Li Weisi (and their duo “Soviet Pop”), Yan Yulong, Liu Xinyu (who’s now concentrating on being in a band). In 2014, my previously irregular “miji concerts” began to be regularly scheduled at Meridian Space (until the end of 2017), and they all participated often. Some of these people with whom I’ve collaborated fairly frequently can play an instrument, including electronic equipment, and some can’t. Most of them are also members of (low-temperature) rock bands. The meaning of miji is actually to streamline, to purify, because in the past I’ve already booked too many shows, talked too much. They will remind me to talk less.

Then one time, around 2015, I put together a living room tour with a few of them and met Ake. She was a spectator, and cooked in exchange for entry to the performance, but the sound of her (and illustrator Shu) cooking also counts as part of the show. Later, she got a violin from a waste recycling station, and then began to perform. She also doesn’t like talking.

Because she has no musical experience at all, she can only perform things that are nothing, like a constant but not very stable bowing: guuuuhhhh —— zzzhhhiiiiii. Later, she added more and more elements of performance art and body art. Later, more and more compositions appeared around her, and she also composed. That is to say, compositions closer to the early Fluxus idea of a command-based composition, but a little longer, and usually not shocking.

So at the same time, Zhu Wenbo’s compositions may be based on simple foundational logic; Yan Yulong’s on classical minimalism (now he, Sheng Jie and Shouwang are working on a composition-focused label called Maybe Noise); my own compositions may lean toward being more conceptual or performative. The topic of composition has been very common in improvisation circles around the world for the last ten years, maybe because it helps to impair an excess of “ego” in improvised music, or maybe it’s just a desire to seriously play small games. Of course, others may think that this cannot be considered composition, and so just call it “instruction.” In short, they are all unrestricted, super simple works requiring no skill. In terms of effect, they are usually quiet, but do not create an atmosphere — they mix into the environment.

Ake’s existence provides me with another conjecture, that is, an extension of the purification concept that I mentioned before: If the tension is removed, does an intense silence transform into something less intense? This brings up a question about “quiet” post-Cage: quiet has been objectified, it’s already become very loud, and it is not open. In other words, it was originally a non-verbal state, but now it’s a language, and a dead language. Buddhist allegory turned into a dead machine. Ake’s loosey-goosey works made me think about whether it’s possible to bring quiet back to “silent.” Just silence and nothing more. This way, not only does noise’s intense meaninglessness change into “meaninglessness and nothing more,” but also self-expression is quieted from the source.

After Ake, there was another person who had no musical experience named An Zi who also turned from an audience member into a performer. She was also very quiet. Her first performance was to burn potato chips one at a time. One of our recent collaborations involved each of us recording fragments from “King Lear” on our mobile phones, and using the recordings to improvise a dialogue. Her quiet can convey weird things, and it is not relaxed at all, sometimes even makes you feel nervous. My theory here is that the purification process is to remove impurities, to go from “silent” to “quiet.” It’s also removing impurities to go from a live performance to a recording studio, even more so. How can we purify the impurities themselves then? Do impurities need to be purified?

Soviet Pop also brought me a conjecture. It’s mainly about Li Weisi playing a four-track tape machine. His sound is ambiguous and slow, making it hard to know what’s deliberate, what’s machine noise and what’s manipulated. There is also no so-called structural logic. This is different from the language of modernism as a whole: it refuses to be analyzed. In this kind of performance, man and machine are one, music and daily life are one, useful and useless are also one. Later, at a miji concert in 2018, Li Qing performed a work called “A Thing [I] Want to Do.” I don’t want to describe it, I just want to say that this simple “want to do” makes all of these other things bear fruit; it’s initiative. Language does not have to generate a stable form. It only needs to provide the possibility of “generation”. This is the initiative of the author, and it encourages the initiative of the audience.

In 2017, Zhu Wenbo and I co-curated a cassette called “there is no music from china”. This was done at the invitation of a label from New Zealand. I guess they wanted to announce a “music from China”, so we played with this expectation. But at the same time it could also be “something from China called no music”. A pun game. From this perspective, gaming seems to be a more important layer than embodied reality: brain teasers, not passion, cadence, or the expression of attitude.

But if games are also a part of embodied reality, it may be easier to understand: I guess that the body is also crushed by reality. For example, many people are clinically depressed, and some have already died. This isn’t normal. The body may respond with a language structure different from that of an asphalt roller. For example, it may not be interested in verse, it may not be interested in turning into another behemoth, or it may use the language of neurosis or depression, or it may be unable to speak, may only be capable of trembling and whispering. In short, it does not necessarily produce meaning, but it will face the reality of excess meaning, a reality where meaning circulates within itself. Those loosey-goosey bodies are also bodies, and they form their own logic (maybe it should be considered weak logic?). If the body can be regarded as a kind of machine, and bioelectric phenomena constitute the illusion that we call “self”, then, whether or not it’s a game, a hum, or a logical short-circuit, this machine is doing it with the power of the self. It does this often, it couldn’t be more natural.

When I say this, I am not trying to create an elevated sense of what me or my friends are doing. Moreover, these aren’t things that happen as a result of discussion. It’s just conjecture, nothing more. It’s ok if these observations are all wrong, it doesn’t matter.

Yes, around 2017 or 2018, Zhu Wenbo changed his profile to: “dedicated to music that is not like music”. In 2018, I started writing a series of essays called “Maybe Not Music”. Then, also in 2018, we started a series of performances at the Goethe-Institut, mainly in collaboration with German artists, called “Not a Concert”. That included sound and light installations, contemporary dance, performance pieces similar to theater, European Reductionism, group performances in which everyone goes in their own direction…… After the second performance, a German friend talked about our (“Improv Committee”) work. She said that some people’s sounds were too loud, drowning out the sounds of others. My personal understanding is this: balance and democracy are European traditions, but if I believe in equality between sounds, then I should believe in equality between loud and quiet, and create opportunities to showcase this equality. Of course, reality does not necessarily match this interpretation, and it doesn’t need to, but people’s understanding of things will definitely influence how they act.

In short, there are a lot of things referred to as “experimental music”, “avant-garde music”, and “sound art”. I’d rather what I talked about above not exist in these categories. It’s true, because discourse transcends reality, it conveys a direction, not a fact. This music, or whatever you call it, is just fact, nothing more. These things are not of any importance, they’re only relevant to a small handful of creators and an audience of 10 to 100 people. Maybe they’re not worthy of being called music or art. Fortunately, they do not waste societal resources, and they make these people happy. So it doesn’t matter if it’s not music. That’s it.

2019

zhu wenbo’s zoomin’ night label: https://zoominnight.bandcamp.com/
there is no music from china: https://zoominnight.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-no-music-from-china
ake – eih (no.1 of a series): http://www.subjam.org/archives/3682
li qing – one thing (i) wnat to do: http://www.subjam.org/archives/3640
musiklos 1: http://www.subjam.org/archives/3674
musiklos 2: http://www.subjam.org/archives/3759
living room tour: http://www.yanjun.org/archives/category/project/living-room
absentee of the empire: http://www.yanjun.org/archives/1338
possibly not music (in chinese): 可能不是音乐