The Wire


Listen: Sub Jam label compilation

December 2013

Stream tracks by artists released on the Sub Jam label, selected and annotated by the label's founder, artist and writer Yan Jun.

Lao Yang
from Untitled (2013)
(Sub Jam m001)
Hi! I’m going to introduce some works released by the Sub Jam label, starting with a silent one. See the picture of the saw blade above? A friend of mine made sound with it: she put it into the disc drive of her laptop. It damaged the computer. But still, it did make a sound in the process. But that made me wonder why we make or listen to music if it doesn’t damage or hurt? Why do we make or listen to music if it has no weight? If it’s untouchable? If we can’t change its temperature with our own hands?

FM3 Zhang
"Short Wave Of Bengal Bay 1" (extract)
from Short Wave Of Bengal Bay (2009)
(Kwanyin 033)
Zhang Jian, one half of FM3, went to Bengal Bay for a romantic holiday in 2006. On the ship he recorded some radio signals with a portable recorder (I think he used my old Edirol R1). He told me that he was touched because Chinese radio signals are the strongest ones above the ocean. Later, I gave up on his proposal to release a CD, but used the tracks on FM3’S Buddha Machine. “Let’s do a radio!” I said. “Let’s present this for China’s National Day!” he said.

Alles 3 (Nicholas Bussmann and Toshimaru Nakamura)
"Me, Myself And I"
from I Know How You Frown (2007)
(Kwanyin 020)
Nicholas Bussman once said that computers are stupid. On them, he likes to set up parameters of high randomness. But he always has great sense of composition. Toshi, as everybody knows, is an improviser. But he said making a CD is an art. That means composing, doesn’t it? Both of them remind me of the reality of presenting sound to a stranger via publishing: how to transfer sound matter? Actually, the sound matter came before I knew them. Christiaan Virant introduced this album to me. I listened to it and then I published it. I met Nicholas. I met Toshi. Now I’m listening to it again as if shochu is gushing again from an empty bottle.

Lionel Marchetti
"Cantare La Fiesta!"
from 23 Formes En Élastique (2013)
(Sub Jam m002)
This is Lionel’s most “elastic” album. A lot of space. A lot of quiet moments. A lot of waiting, watching, listening and turning back. I told him that I smelled the perfume of chinese ink painting. But he said 'aha, this time I didn’t think about it'. He was thinking around the paintings all the time but during composing another work! Anyway, I wrote a small book after listening to this album. It’s important for me as well. All I want to say is written in the book. Please snatch one if you can.

Li Jianhong
"Night Train 2008"
from Handcraft (2012, various artists)
(Kwanyin 045)
The voice is from Li Jianhong himself. He dubbed it in studio (with Cool Editor I guess). He’s telling story as an old soldier: that was 2008 while I had still not yet formed the concept of Environment Improvisation… It was recorded in a night train. Li Tietiao, a saxophone player who travelled with him, was holding the recorder. There were Tieqiao’s breath. So beautiful. So real. So Li Tieqiao, if you know him! This is a compilation of guitar improvisation. Guitar is stupid, that’s why we love it.

Olaf Hochherz
"Watching" (extract)
from Watching (2013)
(Kwanyin 050)
Computer generated sounds that mimic animals and create a virtual environment are, metaphysically speaking, the best kind of feedback. Olaf is interested in trying to live in a half-animal body, or in a half-animal environment. His sounds live together like groups of animals do. Therefore, he has to share himself with this group. “How to live together?” a leftist once asked. Yes: how to live together with a computer, generator, feedback, environment, and animals? If I was a piece of sound, I would try and disappear before the answer became evident.

ISMU (Intelligent Shanghai Mono University)
"In The Room With Snow"
from 7.9 (2003)
(Sub Jam 009)
This was the best time for B6, who is today a famous producer and media artist, and was the initiator of this one-off group. This was during a time when boys were downloading tiny software applications and patches to make noise and IDM music. It was a time when they didn't need much money. But I need money. I made 500 copies of this album in 2003. There are still 250 left to sell!

Wang Fan
"The Era Of Noise"
from Noises Inside (2001, various artists)
(Sub Jam 001)
This was the first release by the Sub Jam label. Once, I was asked to publish my first collection of rock reviews. I also invited some friends to make a compilation of music to go with the book. “Anything stranger than rock?” I asked them. I think Wang Fan’s track could be the first piece of noise to be released in China. At the time, Wang Fan named the music “violent noise”. He has invented many musical forms that he doesn’t know have already been invented by other people. He is different. He does not belong to this reality. Now he is on Wechat. You will disallow his updates after you add him. Try it!

Otomo Yoshihide, Ryu Hankil, Yuen Cheewai, Yan Jun, Sachiko M, Yang Ge, Xiao Qiang, Hong Qile, Gogo J, Olivier Heux, Tao Yi and Junyuan
"In" (extract)
from Big Can (2010)
(Kwanyin 037)
I consider this to be a field recording. It’s not really a recording of musicians playing together. It was recorded after a heavenly lunch in Zhujiajiao, Shanghai. We walked into this empty oil tank with no purpose. Suddenly, people started hitting or kicking things… I immediately put a recorder on the ground in the middle of everything. Everyone on the list was in the tank, but not all of them made sound. That doesn’t matter.

Thank you for listening.
Yan Jun
3 December, 2013


Yan Jun, your text is the most pretentious thing I have ever read, utterly devoid. The music is just boring, representing in a short space everything that could be wrong with self-satisfied, studied 'outsiderism'.

yeah, kinda like the wire -- utterly devoid of content and self-satisfied. relevant? not any more (except maybe for people like yan jun...).

Thanks John, you voiced my opinion perfectly

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