Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 15 News List

CD Reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wang Lee-hom

The Heart of the Sun and the Moon (心中的日月)

Wang Lee-hom (王力宏)

Sony

According to the liner notes on Wang Lee-hom's (王力宏) latest album, The Heart of the Sun and the Moon (心中的日月), "Chinese pop music does not have a strong enough sonic identity." As a result the pop idol has opted to "create a sound that is international and at the same time Chinese." Something that he has dubbed "chinked-out."

Wang may well have set out to, as he puts it, "create a new vibe the whole world can identify with as being Chinese," but the result is far from pleasing. The Heart of the Sun and the Moon is instead a rather odd and at times perplexing album on which Wang mixes up Mando pop standards and mild R&B / hip-hop with the odd sprinkling of traditional Chinese music.

The album gets off to an orthodox start with the pop / funk tune Open Your Heart" (放開你的心), which, apart from the odd strains of a traditional Chinese orchestra, certainly doesn't break any new musical boundaries. The album's title track follows in much the same vain as the opener and listeners could be forgiven for asking just what Wang's "chinked-out" is all about.

The closest any of the album's tunes come to answering this question is on Deep Bamboo Forest (竹林深處), a number that sees Wang's producer filling in the gaps of a bog-standard Mando rap tune with a few short and earthy ethnic world music vibes.

The bottom line is that fans of Wang may well find the manner in which he blends the odd sample into tunes enchanting and different, but those with a more open mind will simply be left "Wanged-out."

Indetendances (獨立潮流1)

Various

FNAC

As a result of the popularity of FNAC's 2002 Indetendency series, which featured tunes by an eclectic collection of indie musicians and bands from Europe, the French-owned department store recently released the first in a series of CDs featuring some of Taiwan's leading indie acts.

Predominantly electonica-based with a sprinkling of standard alt rock / pop thrown in for good measure from more conventional acts like 1976 and Joy Topper (豬頭皮) -- put there, no doubt, to boost sales -- Indetendances (獨立潮流1) is a reasonably well-produced and thought-out collection of tunes.

While fans of many of the acts will have heard all the tunes before, those with a whim for discovering just what makes the local underground electronic music scene click should enjoy the feast of largely downbeat and ambient-inspired numbers.

Ambling in with Monbaza and a raw and -- it should be said -- rather annoying version of its jerky industrial-noise-based One Love (大愛), the compilers could probably have picked a better opener, but then I guess you can't have everything.

Thankfully, Ciacia (何欣穗) and her laid-back bouncy pop anthem Make Each Other Happy (讓彼此快樂) follows the morbid opener and from this point on the compilation does its best to please.

Highlights of the 12-track CD include Funk soul Buster's interestingly ambient Sea Wave, Lim Giong (林強) and Stingray's eloquent, yet pulsating nine-and-a-half minute electronic opus Healing Rain (雨愈下愈大) and aboriginal crooner Biung's (王宏恩) upbeat pop/folksy title track from his latest album, Wind Walker (走風的人).

So Far so Close (兩極)

Richie Ren (任賢齊)

Magic Stone (滾石)

If it's pure and pompless Mando pop that your after, then you can't really go wrong with Richie Ren (任賢齊). For over a decade, Ren has been at the forefront of the music scene throughout greater China and it doesn't look like he's any hurry to pull the rip cord just yet.

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