Sunday, December 28, 2003

asa chang & junray - jun ray son chang - i first heard a track by asa chang and junray on one of those rare occasions where i was tuned into john peel, one of those rarer occasions where i actually heard something interesting. at a guess i would say it was the track hana, the first piece on the album jun ray son chang, which was played. the combination of string and vocal struck me as curious, cut up and elusive tones seducing my attention. later i heard a compilation track, one taken from the EP which followed this album, and one very much in a similar style to the other piece i heard. between the two i decided that asa chang and junray were someone to check out.

so when i found a record shop which had a section for leaf records, who are responsible for this UK version, which seems to join tracks from a couple of previous non-UK releases, i flicked through it till i found jun ray song chang. finding it i bought, buying it i put it on at the first opportunity. the track hana starts the album, and it does not disappoint. an eclectic mix of strings, that provide strong and attractive melodies, with cut up male/female vocals dispersed throughout. the result has a curious rhythm, something exotic and compelling.

from there however, on that first listen, i found that there wasn't a single other track which sounded like that first piece. and somehow that put me off the album, i just didn't get into the album at all. so i was disappointed. but even so, i intended to go back and give it another go. my impressions had still left the idea that the tracks were actually all very similar - a mixture of an instrument playing to a certain level, contrasting with a vocal playing through that. with the separation afforded by time, and the stripping of expectation i returned to jun ray song chang. allowing myself to appreciate more what they are doing with this release.

each track follows a similar kind of pattern, but each piece is performed with a different sound. trumpets, or drums, or strings, or whatever - performing variations on that theme that is established through the album, mixed with the pattering rhythm of voices, which are quite often accelerated and manipulated. the result, when approached with some patience, is a curious, and energetic album. noting that one of the guest vocalists is a member of the boredoms, it might be fair to say that this release is perhaps more likely to have an instant appeal to people coming from that background. though there is certainly enough here for someone looking for an interesting release, with the tracks nigatsu and goo-gung-gung joining hana as real standouts, while several others start to make greater impressions with repeat listens.

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