Jonathan Chen, Marina Peterson, Yan Jun, Li Jianhong, and Wang Fan | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Jonathan Chen, Marina Peterson, Yan Jun, Li Jianhong, and Wang Fan Recommended All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., April 1, 9:30 p.m. 2011

Three of China's most important and prolific experimental musicians visit Chicago this week—so if you didn't know the country had any at all, here's a chance to get schooled. Aside from Japan, which has a rich history of musical experimentation—including early Fluxus artists like Yoko Ono and Group Ongaku and noise terrorists like Masonna and Hijokaidan—Pacific Asia hasn't made much of a showing on the international stage. But that may be changing: the 2003 compilation China: the Sonic Avant-Garde (Post-Concrete) claims to be the first release of its kind, and in 2009 Sub Rosa issued An Anthology of Chinese Experimental Music: 1992-2008, a knockout four-CD set annotated by influential Chinese noise musician and producer YAN JUN and Polish sound artist Zbigniew Karkowski. The set not only covers many approaches and styles—from creepy ambient to glitchy electronica to wildly violent noise to freaky post-psychedelia—but it establishes that the Chinese underground has been blossoming for decades. This bounty notwithstanding, it's tough for Westerners to track down most of the music—which makes it especially lucky that Yan, guitarist LI JIANHONG, and sound artist WANG FAN have come here. Li probably has the highest profile outside his homeland, with releases on labels like PSF, Archive, and Utech—the Milwaukee imprint that released 2009's Lo Pan, a swirl of electronic noise and guitar pyrotechnics by his duo Vagusnerve and laptop artist Vavabond. Wang is one China's earliest sound artists, at least according to the Sub Rosa set, and the raw, grainy ambience of his 2006 album Five Primary Elements (Kwan Yin) is sometimes almost soothing, embroidered with the sweet naturalism of much Chinese classical music. Yan is a concert presenter, label head (he runs Kwan Yin), and improviser, making connections with Japanese artists like Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M as well as the Seoul crew behind the monthly improvised-music series Relay. Tonight Li, Wang, and Yan are joined by cellist Marina Peterson, who organized these concerts, and violinist Jonathan Chen; the Chinese musicians will play solo sets, then as a trio, then form a quintet with their hosts. See also Sunday. On Sat 4/2 at 6 PM Li, Wang, and Yan will perform and talk on WNUR, 89.3 FM. —Peter Margasak

Price: Donation requested

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