He Xuntian Moves On: New Album “Chant” and Super-Spatial 超空 Investigation of Sounds


For us PRC avant garde music insiders: this almost slipped by:
Composer: He Xuntian (Shanghai Conservatory)
Album: “Chant” (Ehe) Cover, June 2012, Wind Music (Taiwan)

So stingy have the publishers become with album details that there isn’t even a listout of the tracks on-line – you seem to have to buy the CD, pot luck.

But the headline track. “Chant” (no lyrics) is available as bait, and, no surprise, it is even more overpowering than He’s previous symphonic length sonic tour, Tathagata, “Rulai ruqu< which I have uploaded last year.

The descriptives, esp. the title of the signature track, are, in He’s inimitable style, esoteric and eccentric. The signature first track is named 一訸上歌,
which is inscrutable even to Chinese cognoscenti: the 訸 character (read. “he”, play on the composer’s name?) is an obscure form of the character 和, for “in harmony”, so one translation might be “Let us sing out in harmony”, though that phrasing is too simple-minded, too 60s. “Voices in a kind of synchronicity” comes closer, as you will realize once you listen, since there is a kind of contrapuntal overlay of the dissonances that suggests a different but still orderly flow.

The Sub-heads (blurbs) for the album jacket seem to be bait for faddish mystics, but that doesn’t mean there are not to be taken seriously.


音樂大師何訓田 第一部前意識音樂:

His First Collection of Pre-Cognitive Music:
Music that comes from dreamed music
From a place that is called “all in harmony”
From the “all-in-harmony” dreamscape: a sudden thunderstorm, [the sounds of] oxen, sheep, and bees; men incanting, women singing
From the spirit of Pure Emptiness and Creation…

— “A First [Exploration] of Precognitive Music”? not so mysterious after all: it helps alert us to where he is headed: the world of dreams of course, but also of archetypes and Dali.

But also I find the label-crowding refreshing (even as a advertising) – because at least something is going on: dreams, storms, zoo- and apiary static, “jolting” out of complacency: this is not mindless zen or Cage-ian paradox, it predicts a sensory experience, not the dimming or negation of one.

The track goes on for 30 minutes- it is not meant for infobyte conditioned listeners (also a relief), you have to submit and be patient – virtues excised from our ever-churning turntable of new but actually repetitive same-old same-old.

But let’s start with the track itself, which I have had to reconstruct as an MV because of uploading guidelines.

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