Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Here's someone doing something important:

Today I discovered a band called T9.

A workmate told me about some movie that's on tonight, something about punk rock music mixed with traditional Mongolian music... After a quick googling I discover it is actually a documentary about Punk and Rock in Beijing, titled Beijing Bubbles, that's being shown as part of Sydney Film Festival. So we went and saw it. And quite enjoyed it.
Here's a quick synopsis:

Beijing Bubbles is a documentary about the punk and rock scene in Beijing, a portrait of five bands in the capital of China. It is also a movie about being different in a country which is the most developing in the world today, in which everybody seems to be obsessed with social advancement and the accumulation of prosperity.

Berlin filmmakers Susanne Messmer and George Lindt go on a ramble through the musical underground that is rarely recognised in China. The protagonists of this subculture are the punk band Joyside, the girl band Hang On The Box, the blues band Sha Zi, the rock band New Pants and the band T9 who combine rock with traditional Mongolian music. They all grant them intimate insights into their everyday lives and despite their diverse music styles, they share the same attitude: They have retired from the world in which they have grown up.

With an authentic and sometimes abrasive style in the spirit of punk rock Beijing Bubbles´ genuine pictures fall smoothly into place with the fresh sound of these five bands which arrestingly accompanies the film. A very personal and intimate document of China´s subculture and of life and society in Beijing beyond common clich├ęs.

Overall, a good documentary. I'm simply happy that someone's actually done something like this. Lots of images mirror situations back home. Angsty young people doing the rebelling... Have to admit though, a bit disappointed how they didn't bring up some of the pressing political issues in China.

The obvious highlight being the band T9, who are from Inner Mongolia, sing in Mongolian, and use Morin Huur, and other traditional instruments fusing the sound with electric guitar and drums, creating a quite a unique sound. The singer/frontman of the band Yiliqi had learned to throat-sing (he spectacularly demonstrated his singing abilities on camera), and played Morin Huur, Aman Huur, and Tovshuur. However, soon I discovered that he had disbanded T9, and formed HangGai, moving further into traditional Mongolian sound, even opting for traditional costumes on stage. They should have expanded on this band's political agenda a bit, though, like what it signifies for the artists to be doing Mongolian songs? With traditional instruments? What is their message? In their own words? Please? I can draw conclusions myself, and I will... but for the general western audience without any background knowledge, the band might lose some of the credibility it rightfully deserves.


It is quite delightful, for me personally, to see a man like Yiliqi bring forth something that is rather easily overlooked or ignored, i can imagine, in China - his Mongolian roots. It's not the traditional element of his music, nor the way he sings, nor the fusion of rock guitars, but the circumstances that this man is creating his music is the most important part that needs to be underlined here. It must take some guts to get up on stage, wearing Deel, and rock out throat-singing... in Beijing. It is not simply music made for the masses, the watered down love songs, nor the same old folk songs that everyone sings, only when drunk, in karaokes. It is a representation of the minority in the mainland! Rejection of cultural assimilation! Opposition to the Authority! All done with an extraordinary and intelligent sense of the contemporary. This is what they should have included. Although, still, a great effort. the movie indeed showed that the Punk Aesthetic lives on...

Now bring on the Tibetan Punks! I'm ready to mosh :)