(The following article was written by guest contributor Ryan Dyer, who has been on a mission to spread the word about metal music from China, and in this article he focuses on one-man Chinese bands in the genres of grindcore, noise, and industrial.)
China is home to over a billion people. Hundreds of thousands of these individuals have artistic endeavors, but some don’t play well with others. The one-man band is a unique performance art in the musical spectrum. Usually, electronic music is where one would find them, and usually as a DJ. The one-man vehicle does reach out into other forms of music, however, such as rap, hip hop, industrial, noise, and even grindcore. As the result of one person’s imagination and drive, the output often defies genre limitations, becoming something which could be labeled “outsider music”.
The three musicians presented here are certainly outsiders. Hailing from Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, they prove that no single city is at the forefront of single-handed creative madness in China. It’s omnipresent and on the rise.
Torturing Nurse (Noise/Electronic)
Junjun Cao aka Junky aka Torturing Nurse is a 15-plus-year veteran of the Shanghai scene who produces a form of noise which is as nihilistic as it is harsh. Donning a blue mask on stage and deploying several effects pedals for his arsenal of noise, the live performance is a one-man wrecking crew, with Junky violently thrashing his body around while making sure to stab eardrums with his distorted rips, tears, and punctures.
The sound of Torturing Nurse is inherently aggressive, mimicking the constant cacophony of human-created racket in the megalopolis of Shanghai. His live show is a short, but sweet, free-for-all of expressive art, and Junky encourages audience members to twist the knobs on his soundboards after thrashing about the room in a daze. “The performances allow me to be free.”
Borrow the Sound (借走声音) (Industrial/Electronic)
Donning a lab coat on stage, and carrying props like teddy bears, candles, and sci-fi influenced lighting, Beijing’s Borrow the Sound is a metal-influenced mad scientist of industrial. While playing live, a video screen behind him displays lyrical phrases related to social discontent. He painfully screams his strife to the audience while the music itself consists of harsh electronics. Later, with candles lit and a chime in hand, the music slows down to a lurch and he resembles a Daoshi as he starts to first hit the chime and then pray in front of the candles.
The Hyde of electronic music, he, like Torturing Nurse, has found a home being booked with metal bands. Some fans may seem confused, but others scream along with him, overjoyed with the results of this noisy experiment with borrowed sounds. (Some of the music can be streamed here if you scroll down, and videos can be accessed via the first link below.)
TKD Orgasm (Goregrind/Grindcore)
Goregrind isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tianjin. A gray, metropolitan port city, its claim to fame in the past decade was the massive explosion which happened at one of the factories in the Binhai area. Well, there has also been a musical explosion in the city along with that literal one.
TKD Orgasm is a one-man grind project who lurks within the wreckage of Tianjin’s musical undercurrent. A musical mastermind behind the guitar-work in many of Tianjin’s finest bands such as crazed punkers Teddy, the man behind TKD Orgasm is also host to KS Studio, which he uses to record a variety of projects and musical styles other than his grindcore one. Live, TKD Orgasm is absurd, brutal fun – his TaeKwonDo outfit cements the fact you might get kicked in the face with his riffs. Masturbate to his new EP, Masturbate to This.