By Matt Taylor
What happens when you mix the charm and charismatic nature of traditional Chinese instruments and weave them through contemporary western musical genres? You get instrumental group A-Play China 一奏器樂派, who in December 2017 released their debut album Chapter I - Kung Fu Pop 第一卷˙宮羽破, an avant-garde mashup of of Eastern old and Western new.
The aim of A-Play China is to create modern pop music with traditional Chinese instruments, thereby acting as a two way cross-cultural bridge between East and West. On Kung Fu Pop, traditional instruments which have their roots in Chinese folk (including the guzheng 古箏, erhu 二胡 and dizi 笛子) are seamlessly integrated into elements of soul, rock, disco and pop, resulting in a seven track album able to embody the beauty of the ancient and modern, whilst simultaneously combining the vigor and vitality of the urban and rural to create a new and refreshing musical landscape.
Founder of the group and producer of the album, Zhou Jin Tai 周金泰 is an accomplished producer and composer, and has already enjoyed an illustrious decade in the Chinese music industry. As well as producing for other artists, he has composed the theme tune for several TV drama’s, has acted as head producer for New Year & Spring Gala events for Jiangsu TV, and invited to sit on the panel of Sing! China 中國新歌聲.
In the Chinese music industry, Zhou is seen by many as a pioneer in pop music due to his cross-border music creation and innovative thinking, and he has dedicated his career to the exploration and excavation of high quality independent pop music.
Chinese instruments being utilized in modern pop isn’t completely new. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, musicians like Jay Chou 周杰倫, Wang Leehom 王力宏 and S.H.E were leading figures in the China Wave 中國風, which sought to not only bring Chinese instruments and folk tales into the modern pop dichotomy, but place them at the core of their records, with the bridges and hooks often dependent on these traditional instruments.
Where A-Play China differs from this however is in how the instruments are employed - rather than playing traditional melodies and then building a pop song around this, or being used simply for hooks and interludes, they are instead intrinsically fused with their partner Western genre, resulting in a refreshing and harmonious collaboration where it feels less of a novelty, and more genuine pop song led by traditional instruments - a surprising rarity in modern Chinese pop music.
Despite this innovative use of instrumentation however, these traditional instruments are still capable of tapping into the expressiveness and spiritual connotation of the folk music they have historically been used for. For thousands of years, these instruments have carried with them stories and feelings of the East, and that is not lost at any point on the record.
The album Chapter I - Kung Fu Pop 第一卷˙宮羽破 is available to stream and purchase on most major music platforms:
After releasing a series of teaser videos that are sure as hell peaking the interest of fervently awaiting fans, Hebe has announced the release of her third album "Routine" on the 7th of August.
The album will be released in cohesion with musical "Lullaby".
To raise awareness for the album, H.I.M are holding a little contest. if you are able to guess the names of five songs from Hebe's album which are hinted towards in the video, you may receive a prize specially picked for you from Hebe!
Can you guess them? Video's down below, so quick, come and try your luck!
No , the title isn't a nod to another scandalous thing that a celebrity's done; the only scandal here is Tao not releasing an album for 8 years! The acclaimed and popular television host and singer has just released her new album <Really>(真的假的) and has the backing of several of the most talented artists in the industry, such as Aboriginal powerhouse A-Mei, songstress Tanya Chua , the Beautiful Ms Jolin Tsai , Jay Chou and S.H.E among others.
But this is proving to be the mother of comeback albums, featuring a duet with Khalil Fong himself,<是爱>(It's love) who is known for his selectiveness in performing duets with female singers.
She's also released two other singles , <I don't approve>（我不祝福) and the Title track for her album <真的假的>(really) which are definitely worth checking out. Welcome back Matilda!
Hebe, one third of the most popular girl group of the decade S.H.E has done something that many others have failed in doing: progressed from a career as a band member into a soloist. And even more surprisingly being able to juggle both of these careers at once! Juggling the S.H.E 4ever concerts while working on her highly-anticipated third album is no feat, let me tell you. It takes a lot of courage and effort, and someone really special to pull this sort of trick off, and Hebe is just that person.
Known to be a person of few words especially in the public eye, she doesn’t promote herself or her love for music by voicing her opinions; but I can certainly hear her love for music in every note she sings. I am extremely impressed with how she handles both the persona of a group member and a solo artist with ease and versatility, flowing between the two dynamics as easily as a fish in water. To me, it shows that Hebe has truly found her own niche in the music industry, both as a group player while being able to shine on her own as well.
Her first solo album, <To Hebe>may have been a shock to fans , especially in terms of her whole new image and the genre of the songs that she chose, but to me, I was extremely happy and felt that I could finally see a side of Hebe which I knew was always there, but just a little more hidden. Her unique taste in music is reflected in her solo works, and establishing herself as a solo artist , albeit as an artist within the INDEPENDENT genre , working with people who knew how to write beautiful lyrics and melodies not just about love and romance, but about the larger things in life and being able to pull it off as well as she has; is no easy feat. She certainly pulls away from the pack in establishing herself with this kind of dual personality while at the same time being able to reflect who she truly is on the whole through her movement between these two selves. In my (relatively) extensive knowledge of Chinese music I have never seen anyone who has made this transition as flawlessly as Hebe , and as the Dark Horse she is, I am sure she will continue to prove herself continuously both the fans and to the public alike.
Image taken from 24/7 kpop
After looking through a few of the lyrics for S.H.E's latest album, I find that
it really is an extremely well put together album. The concept is beautiful,
understated but amazing and is a kind of transition for them into womanhood ,
and I really love how they've moved past all the sad love songs that other
artists well into their thirties are still cranking out and giving out a very
warm and comforting message to their fans and listeners worldwide. They offer
something very different to other singers of their generation ; Jolin tsai with
her catchy dance songs and Impressive moves , wang
leehom with his noble pursuit of changing the world and taking Chinese music to
a whole new level, or jay Chou whose appeal for me lies purely in the catchiness
of his songs. No, not S.H.E. their appeal ; especially in this album lies in the
comfort their songs bring to listeners. Immediately when you start listening to
this album, you're transported to a world where all your worries are left behind
as they teach you about the simple pleasures of life. This is S.H.E ; the most
famous BFFs in the Chinese music industry who go back to the basics for their
most recent album <flowery> ; their appeal so enticing but yet subtle that
its become obvious why these singing sisters are so popular.
A place for news content, single reviews, and other exciting content on your favourite Mandopop artists.