Genre: Environment Improvisation
“Here Is It” was recorded during 2009 to 2010. It’s a re-recognization of “environment”.
Guitar: GIBSON ES-175／ES-125
Recorder: ZOOM H4
Recording/Mastering: Li Jianhong
Photography: Ye Qiang
Design: Chen Feibo
C&P C.F.I Records 2010
Made in China
--- Improvising with every environment in the life
For quite a long time, my understanding and identification to the role of “environment” in Environment Improvisation were selective and restricted.
I tended to think in this way unconsciously: it is needed to make the part of “environment” look or sound really environmental – in a state of natural environment near to perfection, such as trackless valley, birds-chirping fields, or streams with picturesque sceneries. Yes, what I was looking for was an environment without human activities and interruptions at all.
It is “natural environment” in an ideal situation, with its specific charming and energy field. It can make everything simple and pure. Facing to it, you can see yourself much easier and much clearer. The idealistic “natural environment” can bring a clear feeling you never had before. Sometimes, you even can touch another self.
However, in any wise, it should not be all for the term “environment”.
I think the “environment” should be more living, or to say, much broader.
Undoubtedly, to choose an environment egregiously and obstinately is unnatural and not real. Wouldn’t it be nice to make improvisation happen anywhere at any moment?
Of course, it was a thought formed gradually afterwards.
I remember one of my improvisations in the winter of 2006.
It was quite a warm afternoon when I was reading a book on my balcony. If I remember correctly, it was “Drawings of Strange Tales of Frauds in Qing Dynasty”, which was a witty and relaxing book. I remember it maybe because that it fitted the atmosphere of that afternoon quite well.
A group of men playing chess in the garden attracted my attention. They were enjoying the rare sunshine just as I did. It could be seen that they were of high mood. To me, trivial sounds of their casual talk and motions were more interesting. In a word, I just took my guitar and began to play, finishing an improvisation with them without their notice.
Another time was in November of 2008, on a tour to the south China. When I was going to sleep on the train in the midnight, the sounds of rattling wheels, and the grinding noises and crashing sounds of vans with a vein of physical pain surrounded me. Associated were the grunting sounds of sleepy passengers in the van, and the solid, warm and stale smell in the stuffy space.
All the way along, the steady frequency repeated in a psychedelic rhythm and tune. You could figure out that they belonged to the dark night. They were a group of black notes.
And it was what spurred me on to a recording of improvisation finally. I think it might be the sound of midnight, a running sound of deep midnight.
These are what I can recall for this recording. I wrote some notes about it these years, but I don’t think there’s any need to mention them. Even those pieces that I could remember were only some impulsion for fun at those moments instead of a complete conception. It is obviously that I was only attracted by some specific sounds rather than an environment that make special meanings to me. They are different from what you can hear from “Here Is It” – because of my different realization in what is “environment”.
With the concept of Environment Improvisation, one after another I recorded “Empty Mountain”(three tracks in which were recorded in December of 2008, and the rest five were recorded in May of 2009)、 “Twelve Moods” and the last one of this series, “Here Is It”.
It could also be seen as a three-year process of realizing what is “environment”.
I’m not saying which one of the three albums is better or more real. I’d rather say that all the situations are real. But the beginning of “Here It Is” provides me with more possibilities. Its emergence makes me understand that the “environment” in Environment Improvisation should not involve selections or distinctions between natural and unnatural（man-made) ones. It is not right to exclude human activities out of the environment, or the conception is not complete. Making restrictions on environment is making restrictions on self. The “environment” in Environment Improvisation should include all kinds of environments, no matter it is natural or not.
We can also say, let’s improvise with all environments in life.
The arrival of such a realization seems to be an “insight” to me, clear and full of pleasure. Before, I was in front of one path; now my surroundings are all paths.
No matter it is the “natural environment” of ideal that I was looking for before, or today’s “any environment of daily life”, it is the same to me – they only exist as part of my personal emotions.
It makes no difference to improvise in natural environment or in living environment. I think it is only a mirror for me to see myself.
--- Some trivial notes of “Here Is It”
* “A Morning at Qing Liang Peak” and “Talks at the pigsty”
The two tracks were recorded separately on 30th and 31st of May, 2009, at Qing Liang Peak, a mountain sitting at the boarder of Zhejiang Province and Anhui Province. It is the highest peak of the west Zhejiang. I and some friends lived in a famer’s house for a couple of days, where I finished the recording of “Empty Mountain” and these two tracks that were made for fun at that time.
“A Morning at Qing Liang Peak” means a lot to me. I went up very early that day for making an improvisation with the quiet mountain. What I didn’t expect was that farmers went up much earlier than me. The sounds of their conversations and their mobile phones made me decide to give up the track after the recording. When I came back home listening to the track again, I suddenly realized that it was a different kind of “environment”. It is also my re-defying to the term that makes me to decide to release this album.
And the track “Talks at the pigsty” can always remind me of the pig excreta which looked like the wet and muddy soil of Siberia after a thaw, and the flies around it. It is strange that such a memory never made me feel nasty or dirty. I’d rather describe it by using the words “interesting” and “plain”, as well as “a little bit of warm”.
* "An early autumn evening at Konggo, 2” and “An early autumn evening at Konggo”
These two tracks were recorded in the yard of my bar named Kinggo in Hangzhou.
It was a deep autumn night. I saw some friends of mine kicking the shuttlecocks in the yard of Kinggo. Then I did this improvisation. It’s quite interesting that you can hear in the last seconds of “An early autumn evening at Konggo, 2”, some friend came to ask me whether I wanted to go for a late supper (she didn’t know I was doing a recording), and then the recording had to be stopped.
Of course, a late supper is better.
In “An early autumn evening at Konggo”, I was sitting in the yard of Kinggo, but I can clearly heard the music from the bar. The music to me was not music, but only part of the environment.
* ‘Improvising with TV – “Chen Zhen”’, “Hutong under the window” and “Improvising with TV, 2”
The three tracks were recorded in Beijing. I came to Beijing for the 2010 Sally Can’t Dance Music Festival, after which I lived in a house at He Ping Li. The TV was broadcasting an old soap opera named “Chen Zhen”, which recalled my memories of childhood. It was a great story for me as a kid – I remember that all such kind of films and soap operas were called “Hong Kong Kongfu drama”. It was really happy to improvise with “Chen Zhen” – I even gave a chuckle of “ha” when I heard the line “we can only rely on Chen Zhen now”.
And the “Improvising with TV, 2” was recorded without any preparation. When you hear the sounds of TV ads, I still had no idea of what to play.
It is the same afternoon with “Chen Zhen”. What attracted me afterwards was the flavor of Beijing life from the hutong outside of the window. You know it was quite normal moment for north people, but to me as someone from the south, it was much more interesting. This track is selected from three similar tracks I recorded in that environment.
* Listening to Mr. Ye’s story
I forgot the extra time when I recorded this track. It might be the early winter of 2009. Friends sat in a circle, listening to Mr. Ye’s story, which was quite wonderful and scary. It was my second time listening to this story, so I just took my guitar, making an improvisation beside them.
It was a great pity that the track is not complete. I didn’t know that the recorder ran out battery during the recording. Therefore, here is the incomplete track and the unfinished story with suspense.
* Itsumi Yuji at Shi Li Lang Dang
This recording was arranged for an interview by the Japanese Label P.S.F’s magazine G-Modern, Vol 29. Itsumi Yuji as the photographer and interviewer, along with Gao Feng as interpreter and 小野寺美华 came to Hangzhou for the interview.
The summer of Hangzhou was hot and oppressive. We arrange the last part of the interview in Shi Li Lang Dang, where I usually went up for climbing. The interesting thing in the track is that you can hear as the music started to play, the sound of cicada was unfolded gradually, too. The noisy and symbolic sound lasted until the last second of the recording.
* “A broken lake”, “A stone gate” and “So, let’s have the tea”
The three tracks were recorded in the yard of Kinggo bar in the same delightful afternoon. Compared with other tracks in this album, these three tracks do not have much very obvious environmental sound. They are only recordings of my mood in a proper environment.
Early April is the best season for Jiangnan. There’s an old wintersweet of more than 100 years old in the yard of Kinggo. I enjoy sitting under the tree in the afternoon, drinking some tea alone or with friends. I already forgot why I did those recordings. Maybe it was just on the spur of the moment. Or maybe I just pleased myself with the tea. I played my guitar for a while, and drink the tea.
Here is it.