Matthew Niederhauser Sound Kapital

ISBN 13: 9781576875216

Sound Kapital

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China exists today in a liminal realm, caught between the socialist idealism of old and a calamitous drive for wealth spurned by recent free-market reforms. This seemingly unbridgeable gap tears at the country’s social fabric while provoking younger generations to greater artistic heights. The unique sound emerging from Beijing’s underground delves deeply into this void, aggressively questioning the moral and social basis of China’s fragile modernity even as it subsists upon it.

A formidable new wave of Chinese musicians is taking the city by storm. Revolving around four venues spread across Beijing, a burgeoning group of performers are working outside government-controlled media channels, and in the process, capturing the attention of the international music community. They now constitute a fresh, independent voice in a country renowned for creative conformity and saccharine Cantonese pop. In Sound Kapital, photographer Matthew Niederhauser captures the energy of the personalities and performers at D-22, Yugong Yishan, 2 Kolegas, and MAO Livehouse. These revolutionary Beijing nightclubs remain at the core of the city’s creative explosion by hosting an eclectic mix of punk, experimental, rock, and folk performances.

Included with the book are concert posters and illustrations that encapsulate the underground scene in Beijing, as well as a CD sampler of the new music being produced. There is no doubt that these musicians will continue to break ground within Beijing’s nascent artistic landscape, helping to push the boundaries of an already expanding realm of independent thought and musical expression in China.

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About the Author:

After studying anthropology at Columbia University, Matthew Niederhauser split his time between the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the International Center of Photography, before returning to Beijing as a full-time freelance photographer. Over the past year, his work covering youth culture in China has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, The Washington Post, PDN, and the Guardian Weekly amongst others. While his nights are spent photographing Beijing’s underground music scene, Niederhauser also works on a large-format, photo documentary project entitled Visions of Modernity that investigates urban development and new architecture in China’s swelling capital.

Chairman Ca is an illustrator and graphic novelist based in Beijing. After graduating from the Communication University of China in 2006, he helped found the Cult Youth Collective, and subsequently produced two anthologies of the group’s comics and graphic shorts. His sometimes morbid but engrossing images mirror the kaleidoscope of often-conflicting interests, desires, and traditions found in modern China.

Yuli Chen is a music producer and sound engineer based in Beijing who grew up in Paris and was trained in New York City. Most notably, he recorded, mixed, and produced the music for the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, working closely with Director Zhang Yimou to create a fascinating score that fused both western and eastern sensibilities. As a trusted indie music producer, Yuli Chen continues to work on a dozen highly-acclaimed projects in China.

Review:

When communist China celebrated its 60th anniversary on October 1st, its national identity seemed, more than ever, refreshingly vulnerable to change. The internet has challenged the government's control of information. Consumer culture, fuelled by the ideals of Western capitalism, has become the lifestyle of choice. And as contemporary Chinese youth embrace unprecedented levels of independence and cultural self-consciousness, another Western invention rebellious rock 'n' roll and gritty punk music has emerged as a rising form of creative expression.
Just as the 100 Club and CBGB fostered punk movements in London and New York City, Beijing's D-22 nightclub serves as the epicentre for its burgeoning alternative music scene. Michael Pettis, a Peking University professor who was once a fixture in New York's East Village, founded the dive bar three years ago. Though the idea of an "underground scene" is often associated with punk, D-22's small stage hosts a variety of acts, from glam rock to experimental electronic, classic rock 'n' roll and Mongolian folk music. Many bands have hard-rocking frontwomen in the vein of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; some sing in both Chinese and English. All eschew the country's mainstream affection for saccharine pop.
"Sound Kapital: Beijing's Music Underground" captures the scene in a collection of band portraits culled from thousands of photos taken in D-22's basement over two years. The style, humour and energy of these subjects are both authentic and familiar. These kids have quite a bit to rebel against.
Even more stimulating is the book's accompanying CD, a mix of tracks by the movement's best bands. The album includes two songs by Carsick Cars (a band that has opened for Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr), including its breakout hit "Zhong Nan Hai", considered the unofficial anthem of the Beijing underground. "Don't You Move" by Pet Conspiracy, which recently played a few dates in Berlin, sounds like a European dance-floor hit; Casino Demon's "Teenage" glides on a bouncy hook that would be right at home on English radio.
Matthew Niederhauser, the book's author and photographer, has had stints at the US-China relations committee and the International Centre of Photography. In the book, he acknowledges that Beijing's indie-rock scene is still in its infancy: most of the bands considered "elder statesmen" are no more than a decade old and Zhang Shouwang, the lead singer of Carsick Cars, has yet to turn 25. Niederhauser notes that the underlying sense of rebellion can come from the simple act of embracing rock 'n' roll, even if the music itself does not directly challenge (or even mention) the Chinese government. Not every band sounds a social call to arms like "Anarchy in the UK". Sound Kapital admirably avoids blanketing the movement with generalisations.
In a country that still prizes social conformity and restricts free speech, the bands and music fans at D-22 are experimenting with ideas of independent thought, artistry, individualism and creativity. Sounds like punk to me. --ERIN DEJESUS The Economist

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Book Description powerHouse Books September 2009, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. China exists today in a liminal realm, caught between the socialist idealism of old and a calamitous drive for wealth spurned by recent free-market reforms. This seemingly unbridgeable gap tears at the country's social fabric while provoking younger generations to greater artistic heights. The unique sound emerging from Beijing's underground delves deeply into this void, aggressively questioning the moral and social basis of China's fragile modernity even as it subsists upon it. A formidable new wave of Chinese musicians is taking the city by storm. Revolving around four venues spread across Beijing, a burgeoning group of performers are working outside government-controlled media channels, and in the process, capturing the attention of the international music community. They now constitute a fresh, independent voice in a country renowned for creative conformity and saccharine Cantonese pop. In 'Sound Kapital,' photographer Matthew Niederhauser captures the energy of the personalities and performers at D-22, Yugong Yishan, 2 Kolegas, and MAO Livehouse. These revolutionary Beijing nightclubs remain at the core of the city's creative explosion by hosting an eclectic mix of punk, experimental, rock, and folk performances. Included with the book are concert posters and illustrations that encapsulate the underground scene in Beijing, as well as a CD sampler of the new music being produced. There is no doubt that these musicians will continue to break ground within Beijing's nascent artistic landscape, helping to push the boundaries of an already expanding realm of independent thought and musical expression in China. Seller Inventory # 20100929103442

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