With the encroachment of modernization and globalization, many beautiful cultural traditions are fading away, and some are even on the verge of vanishing completely. The crisis hasn‘t gone unnoticed, and there are people looking for solutions—not out of some misguided sentimentality, but out of a genuine concern that’s given rise to action. They’re looking at how cultural traditions can evolve, be passed down, and be presented in a modern context. By rethinking longstanding customs with a pulse on the times, they hope to get more people to recognize their merits.
DONG is a project that grew out of these aspirations. Backed by fashion label Zuczug and music media platform Soundate, the project aims to show how folk traditions can be relevant in the modern era finding new ways to present the music of Chinese diverse peoples to a global audience.
With support from indie labels D Force Records and Merrie Records, the project officially kicked off in 2016, when electronic musicians Goooooose and 33EMBYW (who collaborate in the band Duck Fight Goose) visited the isolated mountain village of Xiao Huang, in Guizhou province. Xiao Huang is home to the Dong (or Kam) ethnicity, who are famed for their folk songs. Over the course of two weeks, they immersed themselves in the local ways of life and took field recordings. They documented their auditory experiences to bring lesser-known musical traditions to people who can’t experience it firsthand.
Two years later, in 2018, Gooooose released his part of the project: DONG 1. This album goes far beyond sampling traditional songs; it’s a masterful blend of soothing sounds from the Chinese countryside, Dong instrumentation, and a kaleidoscope of synth riffs.
在考察结束的两年过后，Gooooose 首先完成了《DONG》项目的第一部曲《DONG 1》。这不仅仅是一张单纯采样于传统音乐的创作专辑，而是民俗音乐与电子音乐一次精彩相融的呈现。
Now 33EMBYBW has finally released her much-anticipated follow-up, DONG 2. Her album revolves around the Kam people’s “Grand Choir” music, a 2,500-year-old polyphonic singing that doesn’t involve a conductor or orchestra. It also doesn’t follow any obvious rhythmic patterns—it’s a musical tradition that’s completely unique to the Dong people. Pairing these traditional vocal elements with her signature electronic sounds, she’s created an ethereal soundscape set to catchy, danceable beats.
2019年，第二部曲《DONG 2》在 33EMYBW 三年的筹备下诞生了。这张专辑以贵州当地传统音乐“侗族大歌”的人声为基底——侗族大歌使用多声调的侗语演唱，至今已有2500多年的历史。它没有明显的节奏，多声部、无指挥、无伴奏，是一个极其特殊的合唱音乐形式。采样于此，再结合更多音乐人本身标志性的舞曲动感，打造出一张极具节奏感和空灵气息的电子乐专辑。
33EMBYW recalls that she only realized the magnitude of this musical undertaking when she returned to Shanghai and began sorting through the recordings. “After I left Guizhou, their gulou architecture, their mountains and rivers, and their rice-wine infused niu bie (a dish made with beef cud) all stuck with me for a long time,” she says. “What I experienced was so far removed from how it’s depicted on television and in the media—I got to hear Kam Grand Choir music in its most authentic form.”
DONG 2 is the culmination of these memories. With it, 33EMBYBW has taken Dong music out of the mountains of Guizhou and injected it with an urban flair, folding their traditional sounds into a series of tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in a club. “Of course this is an experimental electronic album, but I don’t want it to be seen as just that, or just as folk music, or a sampling of folk music,” she says. “It’s an exploration of musical forms. It’s the result of ceaseless imagination and action.“
而在 33EMYBW 的编写下，侗族大歌离开了山林，在当代青年的音乐场景里留下一次又一次嘹亮的回声，“当然这还是一张有实验性的电子音乐专辑，但我并不希望它单单被当作民族音乐、或是民族音乐的采样，而是对音乐形式的探索，这样的想象和行动永远不会停止。”