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deconstructor-reconstructor
Monday, 09.12.2013, 20:20
oh what a night...
Dirty Beaches (CAN)
The world's a village to the musical nomad Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches. Born in Taiwan, he's lived in Taipei, Queens, Etobicoke, Honolulu, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver, Montreal and after finally mooring in Berlin, he's been working with a band from Montreal. And tonight, he's coming in from Metz to that worldmusic island forever anchored in the Mississihl (if all goes well).
His first love was hip-hop but then things got even more interesting: He's a fearless deconstructor-reconstructor of rockabilly, blues, soul, r'n'b and hip hop. And there's a method to this madness: Out of the ashes rises a Phoenix that's taking innovative new flight, powered by his own sensibilities and visual perceptions. Moreover, and as much as he's not tied down to any particular place on earth, he's also entirely loose about his mediums which encompass the recording of several original film soundtracks, for example for the documentary Water Parks, by Evan Prosofsky, and directing his own videos. Musically, high-energy Zhang is all vocals, guitar, synth, keyboard, sampler, songwriter and producer and cites as a major influence the films of Wong Karwai («They're about the passage of time and how in relation, it distorts everything else in life»).

Any artist following his own call may find himself at times jobbing in a kitchen (Hello, Cecil Taylor) and entertaining those inevitable, desperate and dark thoughts of calling it quits. Just in time, Zhang pushed himself into the limelight with the blinding breakthrough of the 2011 «Badlands», an intriguing mix of sampling, lo-fi, no-wave and rockabilly. «The Elvis of darkness and melancholia» as he was called by Spex, «who interprets it all and is ignored again.» But not this time, because in May of this year he took off with part two of the rise of the Phoenix, the double LP «Drifters/Love Is The Devil», which was recorded in Montreal and Berlin. In this work, he's dropping the sampling but you'll hear the guitar of Shub Roy, the electronica geek Bernardino Femminielli and others, like the sax of Francesco De Gallo and drummer Jesse Locke while Dirty Beaches completed the instrumental set of 8 tracks for «Love Is The Devil» with guitar and keyboard in Berlin, late one  night when the studio was all his.

The Elvis of darkness will throw a blinding light into the wintry grey of December with his music that's built on its own erosion. For your own pleasure, don't ignore it.
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