Yan Jun - Lanzhou [No Rent - 2019]Chinese sound artist, Yan Jun, brings his unique brand of sound to No Rent Records with Lanzhou. Limited to 100 C50, this minimalist looking cassette visually expresses the minimalist noise on the magnetic film within. Based on his succubus/old hag/ghost-on-bed nightmares, Lanzhou is an attempt to drive this paralyzed feeling away.
Lanzhou starts with a pretty minimalist premise and stays there throughout its run time. Alternating between voice tracks and electronic pieces, Yan Jun's latest lays it all out on the surface and doesn't try to hide anything. Experimental sound art is a tricky beast. If it doesn't hit the exact audience to which it is being targeted, it falls flat. Sometimes, it falls beyond flat. Lanzhou is one such recording. While "art is art" and should be appreciated as such, when it is released to the public, criticism will come with it. And while that's the nature of things, it makes it difficult for both artist and reviewer, as their worlds don't align, and their perceptions and interpretations vary greatly. The separate, alternating approaches keep the tracks on the cassette very separate from one another and prevent the work from coming together and forming a complete feeling album. The intent of the creator is unclear, but that is how this cassette is being reviewed. The vocal pieces are just repeated sounds or phrases and feel like completely no effort was put into their creation. "northwest, voice" and "nowhere, voice" sound like the sounds one's annoying younger cousin would make at a family gathering, and "where, voice" is just the artist snoring. The electronic pieces aren't much better, and their lack of dynamics and somewhat "look at me" overlong feedback bits seem hastily constructed and recorded.
Lanzhou is based on the concept of sleep paralysis, and for that, it does an interesting job as an art piece. While this may work better in live performance in the right atmosphere, this most certainly doesn't translate to album format. The material on this cassette feels lazy and pretentious. On top of that, it's uninteresting and overlong. Alas, as stated above, this may just have been sent to the wrong target, and the words above aren't meant to insult, but rather help guide readers in the proper direction.Paul Casey