Li Jianhong


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Talking Freely Before The Beginning (2003), 7/10
RTV 702 (2004), 6/10
Bird (2007), 5/10
San Sheng Shi (2008), 7.5/10
Classic Of The Mountains And Seas (2009), 6.5/10
Here Is It (2010), 5/10
Empty Mountain (2010), 4.5/10
1969 (2012), 6.5/10
Lonely Lodger (2017), 6/10
Father And A Wild Trail (2020), 5/10
Wanghai Gang (2020), 6.5/10
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Chinese sound artist Li Jianhong, a leading member of the rock community of Hangzhou, recorded juggernauts of solo guitar improvisations such as the 60-minute piece of Talking Freely Before The Beginning (2pi, 2003), the 53-minute piece of A Brief History of Time (2006) and the 51-minute piece of San Sheng Shi (Archive, 2008). The latter unleashes waterfalls and avalanches of overtones that get organized in a swirling fluttering hurricane of guitar spasms before getting decomposed into violent tides of drones and explosions. The most apocalyptic section ends in a soaring, mind-bending, multi-textured "om". The vibration acquires its own rhythm, that helps propel the "om" to a higher degree of (hyper-distorted) intensity.

His second album, RTV 702 (2004), contained four pieces, and Bird (2007) was even more fragmented.

Unfortunately, he started flooding the market with self-indulgent monster guitar solos: the mini-album Lovers With Cloisonne Bracelet (Tipped Bowler Tapes, 2009), containing Lovers In Misery and Time In The Mirror, Classic Of The Mountains And Seas (PSF, 2009), containing the colossal Classic Of The Mountain (32:47) and Classic Of The Seas (37:15), and the triple-disc Environment Improvisation (2010).

Li Jianhong also played in the guitar/drums duo D!O!D!O!D!, documented on Ghost Temple (2005), and in the guitar/laptop duo VagusNerve, documented on the droning maelstrom Lo Pan (Utech, 2009).

Here Is It (2010) contains 12 pieces spanning a wide spectrum of atmospheres. The ten-minute A Morning At Qing Liang Peak is a pastoral, impressionistic piece with sounds of nature. A Broken Lake sounds like an exercise in amateurish strumming, and So Let's Have the Tea sounds like a deconstructed John Fahey fresco. There are also several moments of sheer cacophony, like Itsumi Yuji at Shi Li Lang Dang.

Empty Mountain (2010) contains eight more pieces in the noise-impressionistic style, notably the nine-minute Wind Blows In The Sunset, but sometimes the music is too subdued, besides being as abstract as it gets, and Doubt About the Way when Coming is a good example of how tedious this combination can become. The 14-minute Find It Short As A Cloud-crossing When Getting Old gives more room to bird songs and the sound of flowing water, but many sound artists have done a better job with that material.

1969 (2012) compiles two rarities from 2008: the rather uneventful 18-minute Revolution Is Only A Sad Illusion and the more eventful 24-minute 1969, with roaring riffs and the feeling of an interstellar journey with an accelerating crash into a vicious black hole, one of his best. Bleeding Universe (2013) is an irrelevant split album with Ana Venus. Right Now (Modern Sky, 2016) is also irrelevant. The double-disc Lonely Lodger (2017) contains 12 solo improvisations from July 2013 including Disappeared Landscape Part 1 (18:18), An Afternoon Of No Importance (14:45), The Thought - Provoking Clouds (9:40), Backyard (18:29), Lonely Lodger (11:42), Dusk At Jixiang Village (9:51), and Disappeared Landscape Part 2 (11:28).

The hyper-indulgent Father And A Wild Trail (2020) collects four live performances from 2018, mainly Return to the Other Side before Daybreak (15:50), which is the exact opposite of cohesive and linear, and Father and a Wild Trail Zigzagging Down (27:51), a slow lugubrious distorted drone.

The live 47-minute piece of Wanghai Gang (Utech, 2020) opens with a colossal hissing drone that takes 20 minutes to evolve into a more robust and even more dissonant cataract. It's the ultimate statement by Li, a virtually infinite abyss of distortion.

Feedback in the Courtyard (2021) contains 8 jams.

Mountain Fog (2021) collects two more live improvisations from 2018, but better ones: Did You See The Fireball? It Just Leapt Beyond The Wanghai Gang (16:41), which for half the time sounds like the soundtrack to a volcanic eruption, and Mountain Fog (32:18), a catalog of unpleasant droning distortions.

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