(go to the label page for more release: ujikaji.bandcamp.com)
Created from the non-standard use of electronics, hydrophone microphone and feedback, Crows that have no eyes is a patient and masterful 40-minute eai (electroacoustic improvisation) piece by two of Asia’s most exciting improvisers today. There is nothing close to a straightforward musical narrative here, only oblique strategies and a display of wits, curiosity and risk-taking; where the artists have opted for subtle but extreme frequencies that push against the limits of listening. This isn’t so much harsh noise as a harsh attitude – the music here is largely “quiet”, but still unsettling, as if king-of-noise Merzbow had decided to cover Morton Feldman by pricking your cochlea with a hairpin.
The album title comes from one of Yan Jun’s old poems. He ruminates on this image: “what if a black crow has no eyes to be aware of his blackness? what if a crow receives his blackness from the dark, the essential void? […] what if the music comes from the void we call ‘silence’?” In his desultory liner notes, Yan Jun jumps across topical affairs, from the government-sanctioned culling of crows and the regulation of live music during the Hindu Thaipusam festival in Singapore, to the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. He notes when “protestors keep silent, making the streets a breathless whirlpool. it’s a tactic of calling out the invisible power.” For Yuen, the album takes on a much more personal meaning, a meditation on the relationship between desire and memory. The music of Crows that have no eyes is abstract and resists easy interpretation, an open work into which one could read both the political and the personal.
This is the debut recording of Yan Jun (China) and Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore). Yan Jun is a musician and poet, a key figure of Chinese experimental music. Yuen is a musician and artist working with sound, presently a member of avant-rock band The Observatory. Both are members of the improv group FEN, which also consists of Otomo Yoshihide (Japan) and Ryu Hankil (S. Korea).