I visited my favorite massage parlor, 龍之道, yesterday. I’m not sure I want to publicize the address, as I generally prefer to be the only bloated foreigner in the joint, but they provide rigorous Chinese massage, medically sound, with skilled practitioners, and the whole array of treatments (incl. hot cups) available as necessary, none of this froofy Dragonfly shizznit.
The only problem was the music. I think they must hand out a complimentary CD of English language adult contemporary dreck when you pick up your business license in Shanghai. Those who have been here a while can fill in this list on their own, but all the classics were in full effect during our hour and a half visit:
The Eagles, Hotel California
Phil Collins, Another Day in Paradise
Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You
Celine Dion, The Power of Love
Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence [actually, I like this one]
Michael Bolton, When a Man Loves a Woman
Bryan Adams, Everything I Do (I Do It for You)
We made a little game of guessing the next tune, and I was afraid I’d lose until they played Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” as we walked out. (I never heard “My Heart Will Go On,” but I did doze off for a bit.)
I’ve long thought that a massage parlor is an ideal place to implement some of my ideas for indefinitely continuing music (just like in a videogame), totally ambient (no pre-rendered dramatic climaxes), non-looping, real-time deployed. It’s still a back burner project, but I’ve been hoarding ideas for Project Dragonfly for at least a year now. Stay tuned; it’s gonna be absolutely, unequivocally gorgeous.
Compiling this list reminded me that way back when I did that interview with Morgan for SmartShanghai, I shared my Chinese experimental music starter kit, which didn’t make the final edit of the already exhaustively comprehensive interview (I’m still so impressed that Morgan took the time to transcribe all that babbling).
So here ya go, my Chinese underground/experimental music starter kit (which admittedly betrays a marked ambient bent):
Li Jianhong 李剑鸿 + 10, See You New World (2Pi)
718, An (Kwanyin)
Lin Zhiying 林志英, [I actually can’t tell what the title of this thing is; might be “II,” and the label might be “21 Floor;” album art is B&W photo of a lot of people going over a bridge with umbrellas and a TV in a vacant lot]
Wang Changcun 王长存, Parallel Universe (Post-Concrete)
AITAR II, B6 and MHP (Isolation Music)
V.A., Music for Shopping Malls (Kwanyin) [featuring Zafka, Yan Jun 颜峻, and 718, and Eric Satie]
V.A., Landscape 2 (Shanshui)
V.A., The Sound of Silence Project (Reconfiguration)
And one of Torturing Nurse’s 9,382,521 CD’s; I’ve given out the one they did with Tokyo-based Polish noise artist Zbigniew Karkowski and Hong Kong-based Dickson Dee a few times as gifts, “Penetration” (PACrec)
Now the bad news: last time I was at Sugar Jar in Beijing, I wanted to pick a bunch of these up as a gift for a friend of mine (the fine composer Kevin Siegfried), and most of them are now out of print. So if you ever see ‘em, snag ‘em!
BTW, when I read that SmartShanghai interview for the first time, I had a mad impulse to annotate and expand and fill in some of the gaps, but I resisted, seeking to preserve the integrity of the barroom ramble it was. Now that some time has elapsed, in an effort to wring more mileage out of it in the time-honored tradition of the director’s cut, I would offer the following additional comments:
I got distracted by some other idea and totally skirted the question about being proud of my work on EndWar, but yes, I am quite proud of my work on that game. I think it’s a great game, and I think it includes some technological innovations in the sound department that hold great relevance for the industry at large. Hurrah for EndWar!
I started to answer the question about what exactly I was doing at Ubisoft with a long answer about how my previous roles led up to my most recent role, but then I got lost my train of thought. But the short answer would be that I was the lead audio guy on the project, and my job was to convey and support the primary vision for the game in sound. Read all about it here.
Had I considered the question a little more closely, I probably would have said that classical music is the midpoint between Christian rock and Torturing Nurse, rather than INXS, and then I would have blabbed on about extracting the creative impulse from its varying manifestations and achieving some kind of enlightenment that encompasses all sound as music or some such drivel. I also feel bad that I didn’t give Depeche Mode appropriate props as an influence in this interview, and perhaps also Michael W. Smith.
And I flubbed the details of my frustration with those damn Elvis Costello reissues. The first reissues (of all the pre-Warner Bros. stuff, during which time he was handled differently in the UK and the US) were done by Rykodisc, as single disks with bonus tracks appended. Then Rhino did 2 CD remastered editions (which also included his Warner Bros. releases), and now Universal is re-re-re-releasing all the pre-Warners stuff. I have This Year’s Model on cassette, LP, and Rykodisc CD, not to mention the Warner Bros. release of All This Useless Beauty as well as the Rhino reissue. In general all the bonus material consists of rough demos, too, which in most cases only tarnish the final versions. There are not nearly enough rare B-sides, especially from Mighty Like a Rose. And can you even get “A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety” anywhere anymore? Although I would love to get my hands on that short, live, promotional EP he did with the Brodsky Quartet following The Juliet Letters, which had a Beach Boys tune and some Tom Waits, I believe. What was the question again?