Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII column that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.
Perhaps not surprising for a band that has a Velvet Underground song title for a name, but the debut album from Guizhou duo Run Run Run absolutely nails the sweet spot for all you fans of tail-end-of-1969, ritualistic reverb-dripping trip-out rock’n’roll. The album was released on Wednesday after nearly five years in gestation and production, and, yeah, here’s a sample:
(If you want even more direct Velvets homage, check out the organ drone and Mo Tucker-esque downbeat tom smash on track 3, “Hiroshima”.)
Run Run Run is the brainchild of guitarist/frontman Xiao Dou, who grew up in a small village near the capital of the remote southwestern province of Guizhou. Though he studied the two-stringed, bowed erhu in his youth, Dou became entranced with the expressive possibilities of the six-string after moving to Beijing and engineering the sound at some of the city’s most vital rock venues, including the original Mao Livehouse.
Dou started his first band, the blues-infused avant-rock project DICE, while living in Beijing, but returned to his hometown in 2014 to regroup his myriad musical ideas as Run Run Run, signing to seminal Beijing indie label Maybe Mars the following year.
Run Run Run (photo by 南天)
Four years and several lineup changes later, Run Run Run’s debut HOON is here, and it was worth the wait, saturated at every slow-turning moment with the unmistakable patina of patient care. According to the album’s press release, the unique topography of the Guizhou countryside, famous for its dramatically jagged peaks and sprawling networks of karst caverns, subtly informs the tones on HOON:
[In Xiao Dou’s hometown near Guiyang] the children would spend the remainder of the daylight hours exploring the vast maze of caves hidden just beneath the green fields above. Listening to Run Run Run is akin to making your way through these subterranean labyrinths — full of winding twists and turns shrouded in endless mystery and hypnotic allure… implanting these ideas into the chilly mountains, humid jungles, and underground caves of southern China, where mellowed-out grooves and layers of freewheeling guitar dissonance can easily sweep you away.
Stream HOON and/or buy it on your preferred format (digital files, cassette, vinyl, even something called a “CD”) over at the Maybe Mars Bandcamp, and if you’re in China catch Xiao Dou and co on an 11-date release tour next month.
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