Urban Teahouse Remix Project:
“Drawing upon the inherent wisdom and beauty of traditional Asian melodies and rhythms to create new soundscapes for the modern urban teahouse.”
The Urban Teahouse Remix Project has been initiated as an essential part of the evolving concept of an “urban teahouse.” The idea for this project is to create sounds that complement a social environment in which both inward reflection and outward movement are facilitated. The goal is to develop sounds for the ‘modern’ urban teahouse, while remaining true to the essential aspects of both the traditional cultures from which they arose and the progressive modern societies in which they are now evolving.
In a time when electronic music is ever more capable of sounding organic, and acoustic and traditional sounds are becoming more sampled and “remixed,” there have yet to be any solid East “Asian” genres. Post new-age music has given rise to some amazing electro-global genres and sub-genres, such as electro versions of Latin, African, Indian, Middle-Eastern, & other downbeat electro-global sounds, but nothing truly “Oriental.”
There are some brilliant new forms of electro-traditional sounds arising slowly around the world at the moment though! Perhaps one of the best examples of electro-traditional music comes from the electro-folklorico sounds of Latin-America—i.e. some of the artists on Zizek Records out of Buenos Aires. Tremor is a subtly-prolific example of a producer who has remained true to both the form and scope of the traditional sounds from which he has sampled to create his unique Latin American electro-Folklorico. Another brilliant example is the work of Ernest Gonzales under his moniker “Mexicans with Guns.” While the form and scope of his sounds are light years away from the original cultures from which they were inspired/sampled, they seem to embody a mystical future-ethos that alludes to where these traditional cultures might have existed in a sci-fi pseudo reality of an alternate universe. Then you have producers like Sir Illiam B. Gates, aka The Phat Conductor, who incorporates ideology and philosophical aspects of wisdom traditions—through scholars like Alan Watts—into his production methodology, even though you might not overtly hear “traditional sounds” in his music. Then you have Asian-American dinosoaurs like Mochipet, who in addition to their wrawkus BASS music, dig a bit into their heritage to sample traditional sounds & subtly inoculate the western glitch scene with the sounds from that traditional in the east from which they were spawned! On top of this, you have tons of downbeat producers who create tracks here & there amidst their aural explorations that are inherently perfect for the urban teahouse: Four Tet, Alias, Machine Drum, Aether, Cheb I Sabbah, Bonobo, Quantic, Aphex Twin, Autechre, The Cinematic Orchestra, etc. etc. etc. And while “ideal” tracks pop up here & there, there has yet to be a concerted effort to bring forth a genre with such a focus. Discounting of course, the cheesy CDs like “Tokyo/Shanghai Lounge” that come out every now and then, but retain no true aspects of the cultures toward which they attempt to point toward.
What we’re aiming to inspire here is a new genre of Asian electro-folklorico or “urban teahouse” sounds from both an Eastern and Western perspective. Our goal is to work toward a progressive new genre of sounds to facilitate introspection and movement for the “urban teahouse.” Or simply….. A soundtrack for getting “tea high” to!
The Taichung Archives
“Ancient sounds and melodies collected from the heart of Asia, reinterpreted in the West for the emerging urban teahouse.”
Sounds from the ancients,
Sourced through modern technology over two decades ago in the heart of China,
Held discreetly by a revered sound architect and fellow aural explorer in the middle of an island country off the eastern Chinese coast,
Passed on to an urban tea-ninja of the highest order on a mission to connect with the essence of the ancients,
Setting an intention to bring together the spirit of the ancient and the modern,
The sounds made their way to the heart of Texas in the southern United States,
And now the time has come to disperse a few key samples to select sound sorcerers,
In order to inspire new experimentation in the world of resonant sound and subtle movement,
Through sounds, rhythms, and melodies digitally sampled and reinterpreted,
We shall create new movements of auditory exploration and vibrational resonance,
Inspiration for the urban teahouse and tea-ninjas at large on their path of urban awareness,
These sounds from which we take our inspiration and set out to reinterpret are….
~~The Taichung Archives
*The Taichung Archives are a collection of tracks originally sourced in China more than 20 years ago by Alex Peng—a Taiwanese music producer that was once very involved in the radio, television, and film industry in China. He had the intention of creating “global fusion” music with these samples, but just never really got around to it because there is not really a market for these kinds of sounds in Taiwan and Asia at large. I connected with him in Taichung, Taiwan where he now lives and he passed the samples on to me. I told him about the idea I had to create a project sampling from traditional sounds to create new ventures into the world of East Asian electro-acoustic remixes—something I now refer to as urban teahouse—and he really liked the idea. I originally asked him to help me curate some studio sessions with traditional Chinese musicians, but he thought it would be much easier just to give me some samples of the sessions he had already recorded. In that this collection samples is held in Taichung, I have begun referring to them as “The Taichung Archives.” The selection of tracks that I have is only a part of the greater collection within those archives, and I’ve selected six of the tracks that are in my possession to pass on to artists as part of the first release of the Urban Teahouse Remix Project. This first volume is inspired by the tea culture in Taiwan and is called Gao Shan Cha 高山茶—it is described in greater detail below, following the introduction to the project as a whole.
~~Nathan Davis // The Tea Syndicate
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