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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Mind Fiber - Ya Cha Ban 丫杈坂 (Dusty Ballz, 2022)

By Keith Prosk

Li Jianhong and Wei Wei (AKA VAVABOND) improvise with the eponymous environment using acoustic guitar, laptop, and natural objects on the 61’ Ya Cha Ban 丫杈坂.

This archival recording from 2010 captures the duo towards the beginning this environmental improvisation project, which would go on to release One Year and Hello Balcony on Li’s C.F.I. label. Li and Wei also play together as the noisier VagusNerve, which most recently contributed to the compilation 返场七十二小时实录 Encore 72 Hours from the vital Chinese venue and label Old Heaven Books. Recently released recordings apart, like Li’s Ferns and Wei’s 散步 | take a walk, also signal tendencies toward natural contingencies.

Its five tracks lend a sense of impressionism: night’s teeming ecology of chirps, chitters, and croaks present throughout though sometimes so loud and dense as to assume a character of a white noise wall or pulsing power electronics; warm afternoon wind appearing as a significant increase in the hiss of silence; and birdsong as markers of the hours, disappearing into the evening. Instrumental interplay might mimic density - more guitar tones for more birdsong, more glitched clicks and cuts for more night bugs - and texture, bionic electronics’ stridulations and purrs and guitar’s howling gliss and buzzing fly from scratching string’s corrugations blending with the other animal sounds. Or a sine tone might complement a natural resonance. Or subtle sounds from sticks and stones, cracking and grinding, place the performers more overtly in the environment. But just as often laptop and guitar sing their own songs. Spacestation bridge soundtracks and EVP intonations evoking the mysticism of the coming night. Languorous pickings allowed to ring and twangy chords strummed - one note held in vibrato and amplified through repetition - like guzheng. A reminder of the mutualism of natural environments, shown through sound that takes shape from it and in turn shapes it too.

Listen and download from Bandcamp