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Reviews for Wild Tune Stray Rhythm
“[…] most oddly compelling albums of the year” Robin Denselow – The Guardian
“There’s much roots music to discover, with powerful elements from the traditions of the Uyghurs of the Xianjiang, Tibet, Mongolia, and elsewhere.” fRoots
The expression Wild Tune Stray Rhythm comes from the Chinese Opera and refers to music which is slightly out of tune and rhythm. The series includes “Three Dakinis are Discussing”, and “Ashik Castle” (instrumental). These are musical projects inspired from songs and rhythms from Western China and Central Asia, using opera structures with folk songs and the musician’s own compositions and adaptations. The aim here is to create a new musical entity as well as using the differences between the musicians to the advantage of a greater communication.
Wild Tune Stray Rhythm consists of a first “chapter” called “Three Dakini are Discussing”. The inspiration for this chapter is Tibetan music, as well as Tibetan Opera. Tibetan people always see life with a touch of good humor, their music tells of animals and nature, of gods and girls without much drama. DaWangGang hangs on to this touch of humor and has adapted texts and rhythms to accommodate the musicians described above. Ideally, the concert would be accompanied also by dances and by light games, and performed in theaters.
Three Dakini are Discussing begins with a deep drum sound and a simple dance. In traditional operas of Tibet and India, the beginning of an opera is given to the gods as a hope for their blessings. Dakinis are godly Buddhist female figures to which in this opera Da Wang Gang gives them human characteristics.
The first piece is a short opera, Talking About Birds: the piece discusses birds, initially thinking that birds are lucky because they don’t need to think where they are flying to. Whatever comes will bring them something good: a wave will bring them water, the grasslands will bring them to eat, a rock will allow them to rest. The second part of the long song evolves into a more rhythmical and humorous piece when the lyrics pend some time dwelling on the uselessness of some birds, the big goose, who thinks she is the prettiest and yet her mouth is full of mud, or the Eurasian Hoopoe, a pretty bird of North-Western China which stinks so bad no one ever wants to get near it.
Follows an instrumental part inspired by a Tibetan saying that the best water always flows to the other’s field. An inspiration to generosity, one should give the freshest water from the mountains to one’s neighbor.
After the instrumental piece, back to the short opera form with lyrics: Wo Suan Shenme Hao Han (What Kind of Hero Am I?) is questioning (always with a grin) the values of a true hero: “I went up the mountain to melt down all the snow, no snow should be left, otherwise what kind of hero would I be?”.
Norbulingka was the palace where the Dalai Lama would spend his summer months; but today Norbulingka has become a zoo, and there is a very thin bear who lives there. Thin Bear is instrumental piece, remembering times past and thinking of the irony of a thin bear. It is followed by The Sad Song, the dramatic part of the opera, where a woman is sitting on the shore of a river, the water is singing to her about the swans who fly South during the winter. Before the swans leave, they bring their young swans to the river as a farewell.
San Zhong Ma (Three Kinds of Horses) is the next instrumental piece, which leads to a humorous song called San Daoshang Peng Dao Yige Zhoushi (Three Monks Bump into a Prayer Man- the kind of prayer man who reads out texts when someone has died).
The next and last piece is divided into three, and draws back to opera characteristics for its composition and length: Zhu Tian Yueguo Bianjie (Crossing Borders). The Himalayas constitute the border between India and Tibet. Culture and Religion among other things have crossed the Himalayas for centuries, but while crossing, the culture and religion change, adapt, evolve, become something new. People take what comes from over the border and make it their own. This song is more particularly about a huge group of gods crossing from India to Tibet. Their weightlessness should make them walk in silence and lightness, and yet they chatter and dance and become as heavy and noisy as humans. The three parts of the song follow the departure, the crossing of the Himalayas, and the arrival. It is accompanied by dance, just like the first piece of the opera. Three Daikinis are Discussing is a series of songs linked together.
Producer/Recording/Mixing: Song Yuzhe /Dawanggang studio; Mastering: Duan Xiaolin/Nice tune studio
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1-Meeting Two Wizards on the Mountain Road Don’t mention alcohol or its flask Today a splitting headache Don’t mention the tender lover Our roads just split this morning Don’t mention the steep mountain road The old horse cannot turn back Don’t mention the bell’s ding dang Meeting two wizards Everyone says they can speed clouds across the sky Yet I still have to give them way The bell in my face ding dang Fierce wind is sweeping over the tongue The bell is already far away Ding Dang already far away In the distance only two pieces of red cloth Gu Huhu Gu Huhu Ga Hehe Ga Hehe
2 Talking About Birds (2) Condor ah, condor You pervert of a bird Your head is even barer than a graveyard You eat only the meat of the dead Hoopoe ah, hoopoe You big-headed bird Covered in silk like a queen Your wings fanning away your bad smell Turtledove ah, turtledove You vain silly bird You like sitting on the highest branches But your beak does not utter a single sound Raven ah, raven You nuisance of a bird Wrapped in black like a knight Yet when the battle arises you look like a shrew Big goose ah, big goose You big arsed bird Head high taking steps like a nobleman Your beak full with mud Big elephant ah, big elephant Big elephant ah, big elephant Big elephant ah
3 Liberate No Man’s Land
4 Four Ways One hive of bees, one way From the bear’s head to the bear’s toes The pangolin, one way, All the mountains have the same height The scatterbrained badger, one way From the “ginseng fruit” sniffing to the point of the arrow The rutting wild donkey, one way From the red willow rushing to the poisoned wolf grass
5 Lion’s Tomb
6 For Children Great monastery Scriptures from India A concentrated monk Not easy to find, not easy to find A big city surrounded by six loops Promises are even lighter than paper Wish to hear words from the heart No way, no way The nets of the mountain kids ah They glue the birds down Pleng Pleng Pleng Fish jumping out of a hole Tsliu Tsliu Tsliu Ka Lalala The old men mount their horses Sing two sentences for you Wolves haul to the moon, moved Hawks shake their wings, relaxed Give you an incantation Wong Zeng Ga Yiseng Jing Seventy feet long instrument strings in the hand Zeng Zeng Zeng Er Er Er Er Zhi Er
7 Thin bear (Simple version) Fish respect the sea They even shit in it Flowers rever the sun They even dare to look it in the eye Ahyiyi Ahyiyi Wu… The temple hall of dance and worship The crow despises the bat The goddess of heavenly song has her foot on the weeds Joy was given up for worldly beings The park indulges in a song with a dance Really making the wild beasts envious Trampling along with the old man’s drumbeat Unnoticed enters a thin bear Da Dong Dong Da Dong Dong Dong….
8 Hunter The hunter has one big eye, one small eye The brown bear has a loud voice, the black bear has a low voice The children look like wild shallots on the mountainside Their heads covered in mud, hidden Mother is like the bent tree at the home entrance Her lower body in the earth, she is waiting
9 Money Gods
This version of Money Gods is based on both Taoist and Buddhist chants dedicated to the god of money. The sampler is taken from ambiance noises of a trip from Beijing through China, there are noises of streets, temples, environment, voices, shores of a lake near a holy mountain and more.
10 Talking about Birds 1 Birds don’t need to think where they are flying to Sometimes flying towards the cliffs Sometimes scraping the crest of the waves Birds don’t need to think where they are flying to Picking a straw of grass on the cliff Drinking a sip of water on the wave-crest Having a rest on the golden temple roof Singing out over the head of the vagabond The birds flying upstream gather in high places The birds flying downstream gather in low places Only the cuckoo flies in the middle Flying in the middle The compassionate god is hard to come upon wearing clothes of silky clouds, becoming a god after many lives often sprinkling holy water with a willow branch which does not fear the autumn colorful clouds under the feet, a nine-headed lion on the way ahead praying from a thousand places he will come from a thousand places often carrying people on the river of desire Dearest, don’t be afraid I want to calm you down Dearest, don’t be afraid I will calm you down Dearest, don’t be afraid I can calm you down
Here is a live snippet from Dawanggang’s first European CD. Enjoy this classy talk about the birds!