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jason on 11/18/2009 at 05:00PM

Underground music from Beijing

Zhang Shouwang (vox/gtr) and Li Qing (drums) of Carsick Cars at Mao Live House in Beijing, China (CC by Philip Jägenstedt via Flickr)

Back in October 2006, Martin Atkins (PiL, Killing Joke, Pigface) spent a month in Beijing China exploring the megacity's blossoming underground music scene, recording, and signing bands to his Invisible imprint. This resulted in two fantastic albums as part of Bloodshot Records' Invisible China series: the mixtape/collage album China Dub Sound System, and the compilation Look Directly Into The Sun: China Pop 2007.

The Washington Post's David Malitz recently tipped me off to the fact that one of the bands featured on this compilation, Carsick Cars, is playing two shows in the NYC area this weekend. Malitz calls the trio "a perfect combination of the Clean and Sonic Youth", and I'm gonna go ahead and second that -- check out "Panda" below and hear for yourself. Joining Carsick Cars on this tour are psych-folk artist Xiao He and the venerable PK14. The recent show at Brooklyn's Glasslands was sold out, so if you can make it to Ding Dong Lounge on Friday or Secret Project Robot on Saturday, be sure to get there before "show o'clock"! This tour coincides with the release of Sound Kapital, a new book of photographs by Matthew Niederhauser, which also comes with a compilation CD. There's a great review of Sound Kapital in the Washington Post's style section, and a photography exhibit at the Govinda Gallery if you're in the DC area.

At, Niederhauser observes how -- even in spite of China's Internset censorship practices -- mobile phones and web access have propelled the formation of this underground music community. "These technologies allow people with special interests and idiosyncratic tastes to readily connect with each other and access an exponentially broader realm of music, art, and news from both home and abroad." These technologies not only allow localized community building in Beijing, but also help build global communities based on shared interest and shared musical influences, like The Stooges and the Velvet Underground. Check out these early Carsick Cars demos, covers of "Sunday Morning" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog"



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