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Seijiro Murayama is a Japanese man who lives in France. He performs with snare, cymbal, gong and also voice. In the 80s, he was involved in some legendary rock projects, though you wouldn’t know it seeing him perform today. Cristián Alvear is Chilean. He has released a number of guitar recordings, some of which are of other people’s compositions, as well as his own. You can hear a background in classical guitar in his playing, however the form is always very simple, at times there is continuous repetition, or only a few minimal sounds.

One afternoon in the summer of 2019, in a large tent in Porto, I grabbed a plate laden with food, and looked around for a free table. 

It was a large music festival, and I didn’t recognise anybody there. I had already had a look around the performance space, a luxurious suite in a mansion, French windows on two sides, perhaps a former ballroom. An extremely reverberant space where the smallest sound gathers into clusters and fragments, where the feeling of emptiness imparts tranquility, no desire to speak.

I had just taken a bite when two people sat down before me, one of them Seijiro! The other I hadn’t met before, a guy at least 20 years younger than Seijiro. He said hi, I’m Cristián Alvear. Coincidentally, only the week before I’d been listening to his recently released cassette on Beijing’s Zoomin’ Night. They were in the middle of a tour and had just arrived to perform at the same venue as myself. They left very early the next day, and a few days later, they recorded this record in Madrid. 

This album was also recorded in a large, reverberant space. The two performers are situated far apart from one another, similar to the performance that I saw in Porto, the sound however is different to what I heard live. I was sitting in the audience, a different experience to the close-mic sound of the recording. You can hear the resonance of the body of the guitar, and the echo of the snare in the room; the one warm and clear, the other distant, carrying its shadow. The mixture of the two resembles light and shadow leading one another along, each all the while maintaining its distance. 

This isn’t traditional, dialogical improvised music. Each performer sits alone, facing the audience, you could say inhabiting his own space. Like two people watching the sunset, not talking, yet having formed an infinitesimal tacit understanding. The centre of the stage is empty, the gaze of the audience is dispersed, their ears listen from all sides, in this way hearing the whole space. This is yet another tacit understanding.

Space doesn’t appear without reason. In their music, each sound is entangled, submitted to the process of the room. Time renders strikes and plucks into coordinates and vectors. Through repetition, they invest the space with form: when the strike of the drum resounds or when the sustained eruption of the granular voice occurs, the guitar resembles a motionless silhouette at the other pole. The space between the two poles or electrodes is not empty, rather the distance between them gives rise to arc lightning. 

Seijiro says, the cod in Porto is excellent. It’s true – on my second day, in the festival tent, I ate the best cod I’ve had in my life.

Yan Jun 16.02.2020 Beijing

English translation by John Wilton

Vintage Vinyl HK's Nick is ecstatic to announce the release of its fourth record, a first-time collaboration with Beijing's Merrie Records and Little Soul.

Little Soul is a sub-label of Merrie Records, based in Beijing, mainly focussed on experimental music. Zhu Wenbo of Little Soul has  run Zoomin' Night
燥眠夜, a cassette label based in Beijing, since 2015.

Nick first met Zhu as a customer for, and then distributor of, ZN's cassettes in Hong Kong, "my first reaction upon hearing Cristián's cassette [seis pequeñas piezas para guitarra] was to write to Zhu and say "Man, you gotta put this on vinyl"". 

And that is the story of this collaboration.

 

 

 

How to buy

We will be able to ship from Hong Kong and Beijing; or if you are lucky enough to see Cristián or Seijiro they'll have some copies too.

Please contact Nick with your details including shipping address and he'll get back to you with PayPal details. Thank you.

If you are in China you can contact Little Soul direct - click on the images below to go to its Bandcamp page.

The record costs HKD180 plus shipping from Hong Kong.

 

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