Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Shanghai Restoration Project

I stumbled across The Shanghai Restoration Project a few days ago when I was checking the iTunes music store for any updates (I usually just download the free single of the week and this, along with my subscriptions to Alternative/Modern Rock, Folk/Americana and KEXP Radio's Song of the Day podcasts tends to keep me sorted for new and intriguing music).

However, this stunning piece of album art caught my eye. Ok, so I lied. It was actually this:
but the two are very similar, and, as the music of "Reinterpretations" is to that of "The Shanghai Restoration Project" (the original album), one is a remix of the other.

So, what did I do? I listened to the snippets of tracks that iTunes would let me and got very excited as a result. Infact, if memory serves, I think I made a bit of a mess. So, I scraped together £4.74 (which, as far as I know, is still the price of this fantastic, 8-track-long EP, resplendid with all its sumptuous audio bonuses) and got down to some fraught and anxious downloading.

I certainly wasn't disappointed! I feel that this album is something ephemerally impressive, like watching a duck work a trapeze with all the grace and allacrity of a Russian schoolgirl, stolen away from her family in the night to work the carnivals of Moscow.

The initial attraction, I have to admit, was the album cover, but, after getting over that I realised that there was something really stirring about it. I love "traditional oriental" music, or that which we are subject to in the UK, and am also quite the fan of J-pop and J-rock, hints of which are very apparent on the EP.

This isn't really getting us anywhere though, you have no idea what The Shanghai Restoration Project actually sounds like at all! Well, think of it like this: The Postal Service is to lo-fi indie-pop as The Shanghai Restoration Project is to Japanese pop. So yes, it's chilled out, classical Chinese techno with overtones of hip-hop, R&B and jazz, and it's not bad at all!

From what I can tell though, some tracks have suffered in comparison to their original, raw counterparts from the original album, but that is not to say that these are bad remixes, they just pale slightly when put beside their aural breatheren, the original "Miss Shanghai" being one such example. Some tracks, on the otherhand, such as "Babylon of the Occident", excel in their reproductions and are, in fact, far better than their originals!

I do not, however, think I have done much good in talking about my opinions of it, so I will paste their biography from the website they call home.

"About the Artist:

In 2003, producer and songwriter Dave Liang launched his career with impressive force, producing for artists on major labels such as Bad Boy, Motown, and Universal Records. These successful forays into the realm of commercial music have earned him high credibility and recognition within the industry. With The Shanghai Restoration Project, his first complete album, Liang inventively marries traditional Chinese instruments with modern hip-hop and electronic production, bringing the ancient world to life in the 21st century.

"There is a void of Chinese American music given all the recent political and commercial attention on China," he says. "My aim with this project is to capture and reflect that tension while introducing new sounds that result from the fusion of the two cultures."

Liang's music has been featured in films such as Red Doors (Winner TriBeCa Film Festival '05), on programs such as KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic", and in clubs and lounges the world over. In 2005, he signed a deal with Outernational Music, the licensing division of Thievery Corporation’s label, ESL Music.

About the Project:

The Shanghai Restoration Project draws its creative inspiration from the old 1930s Shanghai jazz bands, an early combination of East and West that has become an international legend. Today’s Shanghai is a chessboard of similar tensions and dichotomies: exotic versus familiar, lore versus technology, and most importantly, traditional Chinese philosophy versus contemporary life. The Shanghai Restoration Project captures and explores these tensions by introducing Eastern instruments and rhythms to the Western sounds of hip-hop, jazz, and pop.

As a Chinese-American, Liang aims to revive the exotic blend of the original Shanghai Jazz bands in a modern context: "Like the rest of the world,” he says, “China is changing so much, but it's doing so on an entirely different level from the rest of us. It's time to explore that idea musically."

About Reinterpretations:

Reinterpretations is more than a remix. The spirit of the Shanghai Restoration Project has been preserved, but the chords have been rewritten, the tempos have been recalibrated, and the styles have been altered.

Producer Dave Liang reintroduces the listener to the project through a series of eight experimental lenses, each portraying Shanghai in a different light. Whereas the original Shanghai Restoration Project drew its inspiration from the 1930s Shanghai jazz bands, Reinterpretations looks to the transformative pulse of modern day Shanghai. Staying faithful to its predecessor, Reinrepretations incorporates elements from each of the original 15 tracks, paralleling Shanghai’s own reinvention. Listen closely."

1 comment:

Laurengensaft said...

Guess who's back! Woohoo!