Ultimately, is it the body that listens, or the ear? Could it be that the ear isn’t a body part?
Maybe Noise’s second release is Chui Wan at the Museum, a live document from the four-piece Beijing neo-psych band representing a critical inflection point in their creative development. A slow, simmering psychedelic drone punctuated by plodding, pseudo-ritual percussion, Chui Wan at the Museum is a departure from Chui Wan’s “rock band” style, but also its constant sub-text, the slow-flowing underground river that informs the band’s sound from the bottom up.
The composition was rehearsed by the band in the middle of a 2016 Europe tour, during a residency in Caen, France, and presented to the public for the first and only time at the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing in August of that year. The audience was instructed to turn their phones off, and the air in the museum’s cavernous interior space was electrified with a nervous feeling of suspense created by the erratic flight path of a bat that had gotten trapped in the building. (Bats are an auspicious sign in Chinese culture, 蝠 for 福).
Chui Wan at the Museum captures a taut tension, a transitional moment — the band would go on after this performance to release their third studio album, The Landscape the Tropics Never Had, and soon after fracture, with founding member Liu Xinyu leaving the group. Chui Wan persists with new members, but this document is an archive of the zenith of minimalistic elegance that the band carefully constructed over their remarkable early run.