Refreshing a tired scene

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, May 23, 2003 - Page 19

Pushing electronic music to revive an ailing indie scene has been tried before with varying success, but localizing the sea of digital content out there seems to be a worthy enough aim if it eventually comes up with something new and interesting.

An album released this month called Silent Agreement goes some way toward this goal and attempts to point out a new way to do business in the Taiwan music game.

The CD is a compilation of primarily Taiwanese artists, including performers from China and Hong Kong, that is being distributed by the Aboriginal and indie record label Taiwan Color Music (tcm, 角頭音樂).

The man behind the compilation album and the Silent Agreement record label is Huang Yi-jing (黃一晉), a 30-year-old who looks like a teen. His band 78bpm made an impression on the local scene at the Ho-Hai-Yan Rock Festival last July, with a winning performance in the competition part of the event.

Even so, Yi-jing decided he needed to change up a gear and develop as a producer, guitar player and writer, to become, essentially, a distributor of music through his band and other groups. "Like a platform, like Windows [the operating system], we want to be able to offer different kinds of music, or content, in a variety of ways to different people."

Yi-jing released 78bpm's debut album Red Moon in December, before putting together Silent Agreement with like-minded groups who had few geographical or other connections, except they were experimenting with what Yi-jing calls the "downtempo" sound -- not quite lounge and definitely not Taiwan techno, but a hybrid localized sound that could be labelled industrial ambient.

Which is where tcm stepped in.

Though established for four years and with a good reputation for promoting Aboriginal singers like Pau-Dull (陳建年), Panai (巴奈) and bands such as The Backquarter (四分衛), like other record companies, tcm was looking for a way to break into the dance music market without losing its reason-for-being.

"We know the market is bad and everyone is trying to survive by putting out different kinds of music," said tcm media representative Gioia Tsai (蔡之今).

"We felt that we could work with Yi-jing because he gives us more diversity and he is doing the same as us, basically, introducing new types of music."

As a result, tcm will help Yi-jing with his projects and has agreed to distribute Silent Agreement.

"We have the opportunity to copy everything because of globalization," Yi-jing said, "But the point is to cultivate the scene, increase the space for our music and increase the audience.

"We don't want to just copy, we want to innovate and localize all the content out there, to come up with a new sound."

Like Silent Agreement, Yi-jing's project is a work in progress. It may not be the finished article but it makes a refreshing change from the bland fuzz of many current lounge music albums.