Maybe Noise’s inaugural release is Píng Zè, a composition by label co-founders Zhang Shouwang and Yan Yulong. The thinking behind the collaboration stretches back several years — Píng Zè was first performed by the duo at the 4th Sally Can’t Dance Festival in Beijing in 2012, and has evolved through multiple stages since then into something between a conceptual scheme and a traditional composition, a game based on rules and structure that also allows for chance.
The composition can be performed on “unlimited” instruments — the composers suggest “more than 3,” and prefer inputs that can produce “drone-like” sounds, such as flute, clarinet, saxophone, organ, cello, and e-bowed guitar
On record, Píng Zè settles into a shifting, high-frequency drone that fluctuates between uncomfortable harmonies and natural dissonances at multiple, measured points throughout its 41-minute duration. The word 平仄 itself elegantly captures the distinct tension between order and discord embodied by the piece: roughly translated as “level and oblique tones,” the term comes from classical Chinese poetry, a technical way to describe intricate interplay between rhythm, tone, and meaning. Fittingly, when experienced live, Píng Zè is an unpredictable, organic being, an etude of growing indeterminacy that reflects its creators’ vision as well as the wills and sensibilities of its performers at any given staging.
Píng Zè will be released on Saturday, March 26 at Magnet Theater in Beijing.