What is electronic music? Is it music made with a computer, or music with an identifiably electronic sound? Neither definition fits particularly well anymore, and maybe it’s an outdated term. The newest album by Beijing-based musician Guzz, called Walking in a Boundless Dream, is entirely digital, made without any physical instruments, although you’d never guess, since it’s brimming with organic texture. He doesn’t want to be hemmed in by a genre anyway and prefers to call it simply “music.” While the album is indeed a departure from any single style, it’s informed by the continued growth of electronic music as a whole, the maturity of the technology used to make it, and the largely unrealized possibilities of music made with computers.
究竟什么是电子音乐？电脑制作的音乐还是具有高辨识度音效的音乐，它们能被称之为电子音乐吗？恐怕以上表述都不太合适，也或许太过陈词滥调了吧。《走不出的梦境》是生活在北京的 Guzz 的最新专辑，音乐中大段的原声乐器演奏乐段洋溢着有机听感体验，让人完全想不到这是一张完全用电脑软件制作完成的专辑。无论如何，Guzz 也不希望被禁锢在音乐风格当中，他只想将自己的作品称之为 “音乐”。新专辑也同样脱离了任何单一的风格，在当下电子乐场景兼收并蓄，同时运用娴熟的电脑技术，极大地突破了音乐未知的可能性。
Listen to to some of our favorite tracks from Guzz’s new album below:
点击即可试听几首 Guzz 的新歌:
After his recent explorations of Asian identity within club music, Guzz has now left the dance floor entirely for more thoughtful terrain. His previous records combined Western dance beats with Asian compositions and instrumentation, evoking an eastward-gazing night out. Walking in a Boundless Dream still strives for a modern feel and incorporates some obviously synthesized sounds, but the album is overwhelmingly inspired by traditional motifs and instruments of Myanmar and India.
Guzz took a circuitous path to get here, but he found the right direction. As a middle schooler, he used to buy Western CDs resold illegally in his hometown in southern China, a common phenomenon across the country at the time. This exposed him to rock and inspired him to join a band. When he was 20, someone introduced him to classic ’90s electronic acts like Prodigy and Daft Punk, and that new sound appealed to him, because he could make it alone. “I had grown bored of playing rock because you need a whole team, which is a hassle to organize,” he laughs. So he poured through Chinese forums and blogs to find text-based instructions in order to learn the software, imitating the sounds and feelings of the limited Western music he knew.
这是一条曲折的道路，不过可以确定的是，Guzz 选对了方向。Guzz 家乡是中国南部城市，高中时期的他通过购买并倒卖打口 CD 的方式了解西方音乐，这也是当时中国音乐爱好者的普遍现象。受到摇滚乐的影响之后，Guzz 开始组建乐队。二十岁的他在朋友推荐下听到了来自九十年代的 The Prodigy 和 Daft Punk 乐团，Guzz 一下子陷入其中，并希望有朝一日能一个人完成整首歌曲的创作。“我当时对摇滚乐已经感到有些疲惫，因为乐队需要一整个团队，有时也很难把大伙儿凑齐，”他笑道。从那时起，Guzz 便通过中文论坛和博客学习软件制作，模仿西方电子音乐中的味道。
In 2008, in his mid-twenties, Guzz moved to Beijing, a hub for music and entertainment. He began figuring out where he fit in artistically in a growing nationwide club scene. “When I started, no one in China really knew what electronic music was, so it was hard to find help,” he explains. But that changed quickly, and soon he was playing regularly in clubs as part of a new wave of Chinese dance music, building an audience across the country that still follows him to this day.
2008 年，二十多岁的 Guzz 来到北京。在当时的中国俱乐部音乐场景中，他开始摸索适合自己的艺术方向。“我刚开始起步那会儿，没多少人知道电子乐是什么，所以很难获得援助。”但很快事情就有所改观， 作为中国新一批电子音乐人，Guzz 定期在俱乐部里演出，在全国范围内吸引了不少观众，追随者也跟着他的音乐时至今日。但，这样的生活方式也带来一定代价。
Yet the lifestyle took its toll. “The older you get, the more stress the club causes to your heart and ears and body. The music is also very much restricted to bass and rhythm. There’s not much else to explore,” Guzz says. “After leaving the club, a new world of music has opened up to me. If I had to define it, I’d call it something like ‘new Asian music,’ since I’m incorporating traditional Asian elements as the foundation. It’s a departure from modern pop in Asia, which is often heavily influenced by Western music. China and other Asian regions lost a lot of culture after World War II. I’d like to build a connection to those traditional Asian elements to more modern sounds to make something new.”
“随着年龄的增长，俱乐部对心脏、耳朵和身体也会带来更多麻烦。音乐也非常局限在低音和律动上面，可探索的东西也会变得越来越少。” Guzz 说，“离开俱乐部之后，我发现音乐为我重新打开了一扇门。如果非要去定义我的音乐，我会将它称作 ‘新亚洲音乐’，因为我的音乐结合了很多亚洲传统元素作为基础，区别于很多亚洲当代通俗音乐中对西方音乐元素的直接使用。第二次世界大战后，中国和其他亚洲国家丢失了许多文化。我想在传统亚洲元素与更现代声音之间建立联系，去创造新的事物。”
While he first began combining these elements through club music, he’s now taking a more eclectic approach, even traveling to Myanmar and India to experience firsthand the sounds that inspired his album. “I learned their methods through reading and watching Youtube. But I also traveled there just to listen to the music. I wanted to know the basis of this knowledge I’d learned from books to gain a stronger foundation. I went to the temples and listened to the daily performances and the various instruments they use. Religion is very present in the music, and although I’m an atheist, it gave me the feeling of connection between people and the universe.”
其实最初，Guzz 只是把这些元素与俱乐部音乐搅拌在一起，而现在，他用到更多兼收并蓄的方式来创作，他甚至亲身游历缅甸和印度，切身感受这些地域的声音，并把这些感受带来的启发放进专辑制作中，“我在 Youtube 上面学习如何将不同元素结合起来。不过，我还是会去当地聆听他们的音乐，想亲身获取 ‘书中知识’ 的要义，并获得强大的文化积淀。我会去当地寺庙，聆听他们每天的表演，以及对不同乐器的演奏。宗教对于印度和缅甸音乐的影响是很大的，尽管我是一个无神论者，但在寺庙里听他们的音乐带给我一种人与宇宙相连的感觉，这种感觉对这张唱片的制作理念有所影响”。
Throughout Walking in a Boundless Dream, you’ll hear musical cues, like a mode from Myanmar called Hkunithanci and a Southeast Asian xylophone. The album is also inspired by the melodies of Carnatic music, a style from the southern part of India. There’s even a Shamisen, a stringed instrument from Japan. But none of it is made with actual instruments—it’s all created using digital software and arranged together like an analog performance. “The previous album has a lot of samples to create the traditional Asian elements, but in this one, all of the sounds were digitally created.”
Electronic music may still be a useful category, but its boundaries are increasingly being tested. Guzz’s sound, though rooted in electronic music, is a departure to somewhere much more human.
Walking in a Boundless Dream is released now on the platforms below: iTunes / Spotify / Soundcloud / Bandcamp / 虾米 / 网易 / QQ音乐
在《走不出的梦境》中，你将会听到许多音乐风格和线索，比如缅甸的 Hkunithanci 调式，东南亚的木琴、南印度的卡纳提克音乐、甚至还有日本的弦乐器三味线。所有的这些声音在软件乐器中用电子模拟演奏的手段编辑成乐段。“上一张专辑直接采用了很多亚洲传统音乐的采样，而在这张专辑中我用软件乐器编写了唱片中音乐”。
从许多角度来看，“电子音乐” 这个说法绝对没有什么问题，但其界限正在不断被考验。虽然根源于电子音乐，但 Guzz 的创造力早已脱离其本身，让电子乐类别听起来更具人性化。
《走不出的梦境》现已在各大音乐平台上线，你可点击以下链接进入试听：iTunes / Spotify / Soundcloud / Bandcamp / 虾米 / 网易 / QQ音乐
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Contributor: Mike Steyels
Photographer: Nathan Wang
Chinese Translation: Pete Zhang
供稿人: Mike Steyels
摄影师: Nathan Wang
英译中: Pete Zhang