By Matt Taylor
Sandy Lam林憶蓮 has never been one for complacency. Throughout her 33 year career, she has cemented herself as one of the most revered and universally loved figures in Chinese-language music not by following trends or being fixated on growing her career, but instead by focusing on making music that makes her artistically content and - most of all - happy.
Three years in the making, 0 is Sandy’s first original album since 2012’s Gaia 蓋亞, a forward-thinking and ground-breaking record that stormed the 24th Golden Melody awards, praised by judges as a landmark release in Mandopop. Released under negligible promotional-fanfare, new album 0 became an unexpected hit at the end of 2018, perhaps in part due to Sandy announcing her retirement. If this is her last release, is Sandy going out on a high note?
0 is a concept record that takes on several meanings. Zero can be seen as the beginning and as the end. Everything, from ourselves to the universe started from nothing, and will one day become nothing again. Zero is a unique idea which can somehow express the freshness and excitement of a new beginning, whilst also representing absolute finality. Whilst this feels somewhat bleak, new endings provide new opportunities - perhaps evidencing that her retirement is something that she wants to address.
It is also interesting that the album has no physical copy available to purchase, and exists solely on the internet. Does the lack of a physical existence imply a lack of being?