This past weekend could have been dubbed the IZ/Jurat weekend for all practical purposes as the two combined to play 3 different shows from thursday to saturday. I didn’t make it to the album release party at Yugong Yishan but Ruby did catch that one and might put up a review in due time.
I did however catch Mamer and Jurat for an intimate performance friday night at Amilal before seeing them yet again at Jianghu on Saturday. That was a lot of Ethnic folk rock, or was it?
These cats are talented enough to pull off a wide range of sounds and play maybe 10 times in a row without repeating themselves. I did like Jurat’s rockier numbers on Saturday and Ruby was right in her praise… still, this one is about Mamer and IZ.
I’ve been watching Mamer now for about 2 years on the advice of a good friend of mine. He’s managed to impress me quite a bit through his various solo shows with his improvisation skills that walked a tight line between genius and crap without crossing it like Xiao He does.
IZ on the other hand, was an unknown to me. Their first album was alright, but it didn’t strike me as anything special. The newest release however, is something a lot bigger and more complex. Kolengke is special, well crafted, well thought and in parts inaccessible to the audience. What sounds like random noises is actually intricate compositions the likes of which i haven’t heard much. Do yourself a favor and go get the record at C Rock or somewhere else. This is one of the better ones i’ve heard this year, Chinese or non-Chinese. It stands on its own merit and does not need special treatment like some of the crap that makes it my way.
Don’t take it from me though.. The Chinese music scene might seem united and all but musicians never shy away from criticizing their peers…sometimes they even over do it. In Kolengke‘s case, I’ve only heard praise and that from the who’s who of the rock scene. Xie Tian Xiao couldn’t stop raving about this record and how beautifully crafted it was. The usually critical Gao Feng, while maybe not the biggest Mamer fan, incensed the record with praise. and quite a few more did! The 100+ people that packed jianghu all agreed as well.
Why am I raving about this? because I’m hoping we’re slowly getting passed the stage where musicians in China have to get a bit more leeway than those of other countries. A good record is a good record in my book! A shitty record is a shitty record and a great record is a great record. unfortunately, way too often, I find myself thinking: “this is not a bad record for China” or “This isn’t a bad band for China”..here’s hoping we’ll get past that one day.
IZ, in Kazakh language, means “footprint”… Kolengke‘s might help IZ leave its footprints cemented in history judging by how it’s been received so far.