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Hear NON Worldwide artist Alex Zhang Hungtai's latest LP

June 2018

The artist also known as Dirty Beaches shares and explains his new album

Following various collaborative projects and a long line of releases under the Dirty Beaches alias, Taipei born, LA based musician Alex Zhang Hungtai is about to release his solo album Divine Weight on NON Worldwide. Several years in the making, the album is made from manipulated saxophone recordings. We spoke to Zhang Hungtai about the new release.

How was your relationship with NON established?
Through Chino's introduction I've talked with Josh and Derek from NON over the phone, and immediately I felt a kinship with them through exchange of ideas and identities. Amongst us, who are in between cultures, languages, nations, we are forever trapped in limbo because we are never viewed as authentic enough on either side. We are hybrids, mutants, trailblazing through trial and error. I'm very proud to be one of the blood cells in the collective unity of NON. We are a hive mind of consciousness, linked by experience, our NON identity is the brotherhood/sisterhood of our shared and absorbed realities within the confines of this world.

What inspired the desire to, in your words, 'disfigure' the original saxophone compositions that are the foundations of these tracks?
It was a gradual process. First it was dissatisfaction with the tone of my saxophone playing, then it was the compositions itself because they felt contrived. But it had to take the entire process of disfiguring it to realise the richness of the harmonic structure that was always there within the core of those saxophone recordings. It took a long time for me to realise the beauty that was buried underneath unnecessary aesthetics. It was a lesson on dealing with one’s own unrealistic projections of a narrative, or what we project and set out to achieve, when a lot of beauty is sacrificed simply because it didn’t fit the “narrative”.

Can you describe how some of the tracks' titles relate to the overall concepts of layered consciousness, belief, projecting, and reality?

The track titles came randomly like visions. Sometimes the feelings are so abstract you don’t really understand them until much later. Unfortunately they still fall within the confines of a narrative. Like some abstract impressionist story that continues to reveal itself to me over time... kind of like visions you witness during a DMT trip. You think the vision means one thing until one day you realise it’s something else. We essentially believe whatever we want to believe and create our realities based on that. Those are the moments when you realise although you can be sitting at the same table talking to one another, you can have a totally different perspective or experience. What I think is valuable musically kept changing over the past 20 years. But when I look at how I am as a person, the only thing that matters most to me is kindness. And its currency does not become devalued based on context or environment. Kindness will always retain its value. Unlike musical aesthetics or aspirations. This idea of “life music” is that you play like how you live. You play like how you love and how you hate. The music will always reflect who you really are. I just don’t want to be buried underneath all those unnecessary aesthetics anymore. I want to reach the core and see what that sounds like. It’s a life long process...

What else influenced Divine Weight?
I came across Zazen and DMT by chance during the making of this album. And they were the two integral components of how it went from serene to the inner darkest cave where you confront all kinds of weird visions, to exploding your consciousness to another dimension where polygon entities danced and spun around me like jesters and harlequins. But after the shooting of the music video for “Pierrot” I realised the clown was death, or in Jodorowsky’s Marseilles tarot deck; Arcanum XIII. As it says in The Way Of The Tarot, by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa: "And if it spoke: 'Do not offer me your hand, for I shall immediately cause it to rot. Offer me your consciousness. Disappear within me, in order to finally become the Totality!'”
Divine Weight is released 29 June via NON Worldwide


the creative path of azh is a real beacon- glad to see this in the wire. good company

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