入耳 IN MY EARS #22:瓶装的流行:PC Music的圆滑气泡

入耳 IN MY EARS #22:瓶装的流行:PC Music的圆滑气泡

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关于国内独立音乐人的介绍侧写或者是演出回顾,大家其实也都经常看到,但是来自于一个活跃于北京地下音乐圈多年的资深老外的观点一定显得更加特别。Josh Feola(赵识)住在北京,他既以乐手身份参与及组织摇滚乐和实验音乐演出,同时也是一位优秀的撰稿人,独立运营着音乐网站 pangbianr.com

在每周的专栏[入耳 In My Ears]里,Josh 会以他的独特视角,讲述独立音乐场景中的种种故事,也许还会展示出音乐人、厂牌或是演出场地更加不为人知的一面。

 

For English Please Scroll Down.

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点此收听:Selected track: A.G. Cook - “Beautiful”

 

两年前,PC Music 当时旗下最大牌的艺人 QT 来北京演出,我曾写过一篇预告文章将其描述为“一个英国网络厂牌带来的制作过度的快节奏流行乐,却伪装成先锋实验笔记本音乐”。我觉得这句话依旧成立,但我不再认为那是一种伪装。PC Music狡诈圆滑,他们的输出(音频和视觉两者皆是)从流行音乐和广告文化的土壤中自由生长,但也诚实有趣。我不认为这是“流行音乐的未来”,在这篇广泛传播的“卫报”评论中,我认为 PC Music 是流行音乐的重要支流。而在豆瓣的潮潮 Wetware 音乐周上,我们可以见识到这个厂牌创建者 A.G. Cook  以及这个厂牌当前最响亮的名字 Danny L Harle —— 他们将造访北京。

 

A.G.Cook

Danny L Harle

 

在 2015 年的同一篇文章里我还写道:“在互联网的文化模糊中成长起来的这一代人正露锋芒,而 PC Music 触及到了一些他们的神经。”这一观察更说得通一些。毫无疑问,PC Music 的有些音乐听起来年轻又新颖,立即在始终渴望青春与新奇的音乐产业中创造了商机。我对这个厂牌的第一印象来自 2014 年其盟友Sophie的单曲《Lemonade》。《Lemonade》引爆了乐评界,成为华盛顿邮报、电子乐网站 Resident Advisor,Complex 杂志的年度前十。第二年7月出现在麦当劳的广告里。

 

Sophie(和A.G. Cook)在2014年制作的另一首曲目是《Hey QT》,它让 PC Music 成为一个从俱乐部 DJ 探索者到互联网音乐书呆之间的家喻户晓的名字。它也描绘了 PC Music 未来几年的蓝图:超高清,超High,融合了流行音乐、流行艺术和广告文化三者的美学。至少在2014年,人们要么爱它要么恨它,但无法避免地会听到。

 

QT

 

诚然,自安迪·沃霍尔之后,流行音乐、艺术和广告从来没有分开过。但PC Music似乎对其进行了21世纪的反思,奇怪地聚焦于后锐舞文化饮料消费主义(QT实际上是一个概念性的能量饮料)和对完美数字化理想声音的闪亮拥抱。PC Music 的早期发行,包括QT和其他早期的签约艺人,如 GFOTY 和 Hannah Diamond,在网络浸脑的90后一代中的确触碰到了一些特殊的东西。它超越任何地理意义上的语言或文化,比如在2015年底在北京有大批排队等候QT的中国俱乐部小孩。这种音乐对90年代的流行乐、电台说唱和 R&B 考古一般的再发掘和再利用,把我这个80后也拖了进来,一探究竟。

 

在更锋利的边缘,PC Music 的氛围与 Grime 的严酷未来主义并存。它突破了硬核连续体的人造边缘,将“2000年代初英国俱乐部音乐”的阴郁表达软化为更愚蠢、玩笑化的东西,而不是非常关心人性的侵蚀(比如Kode9)。PC Music 里更怪异参差不齐的是26岁的 A.G. Cook 的一些 mix/remix 作品,似乎他在推进他的厂牌走出先锋/流行/搅乱排行榜方面的帽子戏法,走向更为不确定的领域。

 

PC Music 在伪广告的亮片与粗糙锋利的沙砾之间的平衡,可以从两个最新的签约艺人上看到对比。Danny L Harle 和 Felicita,前者是有着古典音乐教育背景的音乐家,这在 PC Music 的声音库中占据了一定的比重,然后被压制成大众消费品。例如,他的最新专辑《Super Natural》的同名曲使用了热门曲目《Call Me Maybe》的人声 Carly Rae Jepsen,而这首歌的音乐录影带佯装为一家名叫 HUGE Property Corp 的公司广告,我的健身房每天播。

 

Danny L Harle 的 Twitter

 

Felicita 虽然也在 PC Music 的家族树中,但更缠绕在黑暗和潮湿的根部。他有着实验音乐背景,曾在中国居住过,在颜峻的水陆观音场演出过。几年前我在XP安排过他的演出,在此之前他的风格已经开始向 PC Music 的方向靠。之后他只在中国演出过一次,是在 Shelter 庇护所。他最近的PC Music发行《A New Family》,时而尖声时而柔和,但也笼罩在阴影之下。在(过度)阳光明媚的 PC Music 传承中,有着诸如黑金属和超现实主义文字游戏这样旁门左道的影响。

 

总之,以上所有内容可能还是没能告诉你 PC Music 听上去像什么。如果你有兴趣,最好的方法就是5月18-21日去糖果找寻答案。

 

相关页面

 

PC Music: http://pcmusic.info

QT - “Hey QT”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26386972/

A.G. Cook - “Superstar”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26838922/

Danny L Harle - “Super Natural”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26854485/

 

关于作者

 

 

Josh Feola 是一位音乐人/撰稿人,现居北京。自2010年起,他通过自己的平台“旁边儿”(pangbianr)组织音乐、艺术、电影活动,并先后担任 D-22 与 XP 的演出经理。他的长期项目有撒丽不跳舞实验音乐节(Sally Can't Dance)与北京电子乐偶遇(BEME)。他为以下出版机构撰写过关于音乐、艺术的文章:The Wire,Leap 艺术界,Sixth Tone,Tiny Mix Tapes,他也是纽约观察者报 Gulou View观点专栏的共同作者之一。作为音乐人,他曾在北京乐队吹万担任鼓手,参与首张专辑《白夜》的录音与巡演;目前他是乐队 Subs、迷走神经的鼓手,也化名 Charm 录音、演出。

 

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IN MY EARS  #22: Bottled Pop: The Slick Fizz of PC Music

 

Selected track: A.G. Cook - “Beautiful”

 

Two years ago, ahead of a Beijing appearance by PC Music’s then-biggest act QT, I described the London-based collective as "a British netlabel peddling hyper-overproduced uptempo pop masquerading as avant-kitsch experimental laptop music.” I think that holds up, but I don’t really consider it a masquerade any more. PC Music is sly and slick, and their output (both audio and visual) draws freely from the realms of pop and advertising, but it’s also honest and fun. While I don’t think it’s “the future of pop”, in the words of a widely circulated Guardian review, I do think PC Music is an important tributary of pop present, and we’ll get an earful of where they’re at today when label founder A.G. Cook and one of PC Music's current biggest names, Danny L Harle, visit Beijing to perform at Douban Music’s Wetware festival.

A.G.Cook

Danny L Harle

 

In the same 2015 article, I also wrote: "PC Music touches some kind of nerve among the emerging generation of kids raised on internet cultural ambiguity,” and that observation holds up better. Something about PC Music sounds undeniably young and new, and they immediately created a niche within a music industry that’s perpetually hungry for both youth and novelty. My first introduction to the label's sound universe came after being blown away by “Lemonade”, a 2014 single by PC Music affiliate Sophie. “Lemonade” was a critical smash, making year-end Top 10 lists in the Washington Post, electronic music site Resident Advisor, and Complex magazine. By July of the next year it was in a McDonald’s commercial.

 

Another track produced by Sophie (and A.G. Cook) in 2014 would be the one that made PC Music an instant household name among club DJ hype-seekers and internet music nerds alike: “Hey QT”. This one single set the blueprint for PC Music’s vibe over the next few years: super clean, super high, fusing the aesthetics of pop music, pop art and advertising into something that — at least back in 2014 — one either loved or hated, but couldn’t avoid hearing.

 

QT

 

Of course, pop, art and ads have never really been separate since Warhol, but PC Music seemed to give the whole thing a 21st-century rethink, with a strange focus on post-rave-culture beverage consumerism (QT is actually a conceptual energy drink) and a high-gloss embrace of digital perfection as a sonic ideal. The early stream of releases on PC Music, by QT and other early signers like GFOTY and Hannah Diamond, touched on something special in the post-‘90s generation's cyber-addled brain that transcends language or culture in any geographical sense, a fact made clear by the huge crowd of young Chinese club kids who queued up to see QT in Beijing in late 2015. Their sound also drags ‘80s babies like me along for the ride, with its obsessive archaeological rediscovery and appropriation of ‘90s pop, radio rap and R&B.

 

At its harsher edges, PC Music’s vibe co-exists with, if rarely references, the grim futurism of Grime. It breaks past the artificial edges of the hardcore continuum, softening the dour expressions of early ‘00s UK club music into something more silly and playful, less sinisterly concerned with the erosion of humanity (for that, see Kode9). The weirder and more jagged ends of the PC Music sound world are explored in some re/mixes by the 26-year-old Cook, who seems invested in pushing his label beyond the impressive avant/pop/chart-smasher hat trick it’s scored to date, and into less sure territory.

 

PC Music’s balance between fake-ad glitter and harsher, rougher grit can be heard in the contrast between two of their more recent signees: Danny L Harle and Felicita. The former, a classically trained musician, takes some elements of the PC Music sound bank (which I always call “high-pitched squiggles” in my mind, even though that doesn’t make sense) and tempers them into product pushed for mass consumption. The title track from his latest album, Super Natural, for example, features Carly Rae Jepsen of “Call Me Maybe” fame on vocals, comes with a music video framed as an advertisement for a company called HUGE Property Corp, and plays constantly at my gym.

 

Danny L Harle 's Twitter

 

Felicita, while still fitting squarely on the PC Music family tree, coils around its dark and damp roots. The artist himself comes from an experimental music background, and previously lived in China, connecting at one point with Yan Jun’s old Waterland Kwanyin scene. I actually booked him a few years ago at XP, before his style moved in the direction of the PC Music sound stream. He’s only played China once since then, at (where else) The Shelter. His recent PC Music release, A New Family, is high-pitched and pastel at points, but also bathed in shadow, pulling rogue influences like black metal and surrealist word games alongside the more established aspects of the otherwise purely sunny (too bright, really) PC Music canon.

 

Anyway — none of that necessarily gives you any clue as to what PC Music sounds like. If you’re interested, the best way to find out is firsthand, when A.G. Cook and Danny L Harle perform at Douban’s Wetware festival, May 18-21 at Tango.

 

Associated pages:

 

PC Music: http://pcmusic.info

QT - “Hey QT”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26386972/

A.G. Cook - “Superstar”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26838922/

Danny L Harle - “Super Natural”: https://music.douban.com/subject/26854485/

 

About the author

 

 

Josh Feola is a writer and musician based in Beijing. He’s organized music, art, and film events in the city since 2010, via his label pangbianr and as booking manager of live music venues D-22 and XP. His ongoing event series include the Sally Can’t Dance experimental music festival and the Beijing Electronic Music Encounter (BEME). He has written about music and art for publications including The Wire, LEAP, Sixth Tone, and Tiny Mix Tapes. He also co-authors the Gulou View opinion column for the New York Observer. As a musician, he formerly played drums in Beijing band Chui Wan, recording on and touring behind their debut album, White Night. He currently plays drums in SUBS and Vagus Nerve, and also records and performs under the name Charm.

 

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