Imagine a world without dolphins. Imagine, they just took off one day saying: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
If you caught my (fairly obvious) drift you know I’m referring to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novel series in which the fairly naïve Arthur Dent get’s to, well, hitchhike through the galaxies in pursuit of something he’s not really sure of throughout the series.
Hailing from a country like China, devoid of the connection to the outer world due to restrictions in the interwebs and a dogmatic government, I imagine young bands venturing abroad must feel a lot like Arthur Dent felt in the Hitchhiker’s Guide, when he was sucked up into that spaceship.
Enter Beijing-based band Chui Wan. They’ve recently introduced their eponymous, sophomore album to us aliens via Chinese label Maybe Mars, and they’ve been touring stateside the past couple of weeks, hitting up Baby’s All Right this Friday, May 15. The foursome looks like they might be hailing from Downtown Los Angeles, but really they’re from a galaxy far, far away.
And we’re lucky that they are. Otherwise their sound might not have been as raw and unbridled. Chui Wan, the record, is a far-out, tour de force of noise-pop. A fair amount of the record is instrumental, the individual vocals of Yan Yulong and Wu Qiong are used more like instruments accentuating the arrangements than as a carrier of melody and story. The story, on this record, is in the sounds. You get the wailing of guitars punctuated by syncopated drums and staccato bass lines. You get keyboard scales shifting from a pentatonic run, hence typically Chinese, to a waltz not unlike the tunes you may hear at the circus of a county fair. And then you get songs like “Silence,” where sinister drums and mournful guitars are accompanied by Wu Qiong’s tender crooning.
The beauty of this record is that it’s simple, understated yet so rich in sound. The clean production is so unlike anything we’re used to nowadays. After all, the goal of most bands nowadays seems to be to sound as big as possible. Not that Chui Wan doesn’t do that either. They close their record with the mammoth of a song, “Beijing is Sinking,” a psychedelic hot mess you just have to love and enjoy. It’s like a pan galactic gargle blaster – you may feel like your brains are smashed by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick, but darn it, you love every second of it.
Chui Wan are playing Baby’s All Right this Friday, May 15. Cometh forth, my fellow aliens! Join the mingling and be ready for this sonic brain-fuck that will change your life. Promise.
For the record: No weed has been consumed in the process of writing this record. I’m a nerd. Deal with it.
Stream Chui Wan’s self-titled album here
Article: Julia Maehner