Besides the obvious, big-ass Layabozi 4th Anniversary Bash, this weekend has another monster show to offer.
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 marks a milestone of sorts. It’s the final paragraph (for now) in the story of one of the more interesting projects the Shanghai underground/independent scene has produced.
Of course, we have heard from The Illumin8tors before, most recently at the end of last year, when they were burning down stages all around town with their self-penned, self-produced rock opera called Solar/Lunar: The Legend.
This amazing show employs a variety of musical styles (psych rock, world folk, reggae, raga, country, EDM, etc.) while spinning a traditional Chinese tale based on the exploits of The Archer Hou-yi, his wife Chang-e, and a cast of supporting characters who seem intent on driving them apart forever. There are also other folk tales ingeniously woven into the saga’s fabric.
After putting on that series of shows last winter, The Illumin8tors retreated to their lairs and various studio caves around the city, roasting rabbits as sacrifices to the musical gods, and committing their legend to the historical record. Finally, this Sunday, they emerge with CDs in tow, a full rock opera performance, and supporting bands The Horde and DJ Sal.
I recently sat down with Adam Gaensler, Estel Vilar, Becca Smith, and Dave Hampson for a chat about many aspects of the project, the upcoming, show, and the production of the CD (by Gaensler.) It quickly devolved into a feverish, wine-fueled bacchanalia from which I am only now recovering. Check that out below. It’s a long interview, but interesting the whole way through.
So what are we getting on this album? Well, it is not a meandering trip, but it’s also not just a straight shot. There is no fluff, but the album brims with interesting, beautiful touches.
I am especially fond of the interludes, narrated by Dave Hampson, AKA The Jade Rabbit (Who Lives on the Moon). He mixes a little humor in with the melody, as well as a lot of his smooth British accent.
There are twelve songs apart from the interludes and they are all quite fine. The songs do a good job of balancing the narrative imperative with the need for musical creativity.
Some of the songs that I would highlight are “The Hunt of the Suns”, “Bamboo”, “Pang Meng”, “Cassia Tree”, “The Hare’s Great Sacrifice”, and “The Moon”. The other songs are also very nice, as well as necessary for the arc of the story. There are no stinkers on this album.
I would also like to point out Adam Gaensler’s guitar soloing. As he stated in the interview, he was reinvigorated by his connection and place in the band and it really shows in his playing, particularly the solos. They rip, plain and simple, making excellent use of the harmonizer pedal.
In summation, Solar/Lunar: The Legend is a CD and live production worth checking out. You have a chance to do both at MAO Livehouse this Sunday, May 6th. Admission is 50 RMB and The Horde and DJ Sal will support.
Get out there!