Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sound-splintering Dimensions of Wan Ting

The past few posts have dealt with a variety of female rock musicians, so I though I would continue the trend by introducing a prolific Taiwanese artist who I've worked with since opening Pacifiction Record and a new CD of hers that I have been meaning to stock for a while now. You might recall Wan Ting from her surrealist electro project Varo, well, I'm proud to introduce her latest CD release with the math rock/post-punk/post-rock band Tin Pan Alley, Needing Dimensions! Below you can read a short outline of Wan Tings career highlighting her musical contributions to the Taiwanese underground scene.

For the past fifteen years or so, guitarist and producer Wan Ting Huang has been piercing diverse spheres of music and developing her unmistakable tremolo reeving solos to become a veritable Taiwanese indie rock icon. She started her career in the seminal girl punk band Ladybug which was know for its angsty lyrics, yet artistically charged compositions. For more about Ladybug and their exploits, read this article on Island of Sound:

After quitting Ladybug, Wan Ting enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago to study sound engineering. At the same time as the post-rock phase was reaching its height in Taiwan, she was being exposed to a wider range of music including jazz fusion. Wan Ting was also taking good notes in order to bring proper underground recording techniques back to Taiwan.

On her return, she tested the waters with a solo record entitled Sedaris and then formed Tin Pan Alley with Xiao Bai, a member of a prominent local post-rock outfit Sugar Plum Ferry and set to putting her new-found knowledge to work. The result was their first lo-fi recording Entering Another Tunnel which became a sensation in underground circles and broadened the horizons for post-rock with its use of loungy saxophone and math rock rhythms. Read more about Tin Pan Alley here:

Next, Wan Ting took her career a step further by forming her own label 7 Inch Vinyl Records and released a couple local indie bands including the Japanese/Taiwanese combination shoegazer group SMOL and her new indie-electronica unit Varo. Read more about 7" Vinyl Records here:

With Varo, Wan Ting applied much of the same stylized tremolo picking techniques, but this time to laptop-generated loops and beats. Taking influence from the surrealism of painter Remedios Varo, she juxtaposed sight and sound by creating songs named after her favorite indie films, almost like alternate soundtracks, but still with an electro/pop song structure. Varo most recently received a reboot and remix album by the Japanese label Rejectone Records, which I might try to stock for Pacifiction if I get some requests. Read more about Varo here:

Both of Varo's albums, the phenomenal debut Hardcore Beach and the intriguing follow-up My Body is the Tempo are available at Pacifiction Records!

Since the 2006 release of My Body is the Temp, Wan Ting has continued to write new Varo material as well as releasing a new Tin Pan Alley album while reviving old friendships along the way.  For example, she has also recently toyed with Chug D Lash, a collaboration with former Ladubug vocalist Mei. Always weaving in and out of the fabric of the past, present and future of Taiwan's underground scene, Wan Ting's discography is also awakening interest in the global community of experimental music listeners.

Please visit The Far East Audio Review for an informative interview with Wan Ting!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

THE ROCKTIGERS: Dishin' out some hot Kimchibilly!

Riding the psychobilly bandwagon jump-started by the likes of Tiger Army and taking influence from the leather jacket Jet Rock 'n' Roll of Guitar Wolf, Korea's Rocktigers have gained a cult following at home while raising eyebrows across Asia. With pinup knockout Velvet Geena as the group's spellbinding center piece, The Rocktigers recorded their debut album Come On Let's Go and were subsequently invited to join Japan's Tokyo Big Rumble in 2004. The Rocktigers followed up with Oldies But Goodies, and most recently Rock 'n' Roll Licence which shows a slight change in style from punk hooks to more roots rockabilly, hot rod and exotica sounds. They also continue to host their own Kimchibilly Nights which showcase a wide array of subcultural acts from the Korean underground scene while capturing the interest of rockabilly fanatics the world over!

Read what the LA Times has been saying about The Rocktigers!

And on!

And now available on Pacifiction Records, The Rocktigers smash 3 song single Taste The Kimchibilly and newest hoppin' full-length Rock 'n' Roll Licence!