2006, Lona Records, locd12
Sleeve and CD in MINT condition (unused and still sealed)
Produced by FM3.
Zhang Jian, Christiaan Virant, Dou Wei
Recorded live in Beijing March 2004. Mixed April 2006 at the Dutch Art Institute, Enschede.
Special thanks to Yan Jun for additional bleeps and blips.
AMG Review by Rick Anderson (4/5 stars)
If Brian Eno were Chinese and had come of age in the era of digital sampling rather than the era of analog tape manipulation, it's very likely that his music would have ended up sounding quite a bit like that of FM3, an avant ambient collective based in China that is expanded, for this recording, by guest drummer Dou Wei, guitarist Christiaan Virant, and electronica artist Yan Jun. The music they make on Hou Gan Yin is a gorgeous fusion of traditional Chinese sounds, abstract noise, faux-natural sound effects (synthesized insect chirps, dripping water, etc.), and floating wisps of harmonically minimalist piano and synthesizer chords. There are no songs as such, and hardly even any tracks, really — most of the tracks on the program are simply numbered, though a handful of them are rather bewilderingly titled "Wu." Not that it matters: this isn't the type of album that will lead listeners to say "Hey, go back and play that third track again." It's the kind of album that will lead listeners to sit back deeply into the couch and close their eyes for 36 minutes — and at the end they'll wish it would go on for at least 36 more. Of course, one nice thing about an album like this is that you can set the player on "repeat" and no one will ever notice the repetition. Recommended strongly to anyone who owns at least three Harold Budd albums.
Amg Biography by Andy Kellman
Based in Beijing, the experimental electronic group FM3 — veteran rock musician Christiaan Virant and prolific session keyboardist Zhang Jian — formed in 1999 and gained some recognition for their development of the Buddha Machine, a small, battery-powered box with a speaker that plays a series of short drones. With a series of recordings behind them — for labels like Staalplaat, Sublime Frequencies, Mutek, Bip-Hop, and Nascente — FM3 released Hou Guan Yin for the Lona label in 2006. They've performed at the Louvre, the 2004 Shanghai Bienalle, and Bern's PROGR Zentrum für Kulturproduktion.
FM3, one of China's most progressive sound art groups, with their latest release, 'Hou Guan Yin' marks the rise of a new Chinese sonic art form.
The "Buddha Machine" is their phenomenal release that breaks down the limits of music format. Teaming up with legendary Chinese rock singer/musician Dou Wei in their latest release "Hou Guan Yin", once again they go beyond the boundary by creating a new sonic map of its own. With additional sound input from well-known Chinese experimental music icon, Yan Jun, the release is a project that brings together remarkable musical talents that shape the Chinese music scene.
Converging two lineages of Chinese underground music: the microsound/noise ambience of FM3 and the ever evolving rock experiment of Dou Wei, "Hou Guan Yin" is showcasing a new sonic activity that blends both the western and eastern mentality into a system of its own.
While the sonic appearance of FM3 + Dou Wei is apparently western in nature, the poetic thoughts and emotions that flow through their sounds show a deep appreciation of eastern thinking and sensibility. It is like a group of avant-garde musicians, meditating on the classic Chinese ink painting or an abstract expressionist painting, translating ancient eastern philosophy into landscapes and free-form brush strokes.
The most impressive part of "Hou Guan Yin" is the chemical interaction between FM3 and Dou Wei. FM3 with their microsound gestures trigger the ambient undercurrent of Dou Wei's drumming and turn it into a new pulsating energy; Dou Wei at the same time reveals the hidden motions and shifting patterns in FM3's ambience. The result is a unique poetic beauty that lies within the rhizomatic presentation and interaction of their sounds and instrumentations.