Julia Dream, Alpine Decline, and Chui Wan Filled a Night with Philosophy of Experimentalism

It was an evening full of unexpectedness. I thought I went to the wrong show while seeing Julia Dream (their band name comes from the song Julia Dream by Pink Floyd) on stage at Lo-Fi , but it turned out that the South Korean-based experimental and psychedelic trio were replacing the Beijing indie rock legend Carsick Cars, who couldn’t make it to the U.S. due to visa issues. What’s worse? I was kind of upset when I found out that their keyboard broke down during their sound check. It was not an ideal start to a show at all. However, everything went surprisingly smooth right after guitarist JunHyung started to play the first chord. This dude totally stole the show from his two other bandmates, simply by showing off his incredible finger-picking skills. He was so confident and self-concentrated, acting as if he was the king of underground rock in South Korea. Even though he was the highlight of the whole set, there would’ve been a huge void in Julia Dream’s music without all those catchy bass lines and experimental drumbeats. From love to depression, from togetherness to loneliness, there were way too many feelings present in their music.

Throughout their entire set, Alpine Decline led their audience to explore a totally different sonic terrain. Their modular synthesizers are kaleidoscopic of experimental sounds. Every noise is completely distinguished from others, and blend into a song perfectly at the same time. Pauline’s solid snare-beat and Johnathan’s smooth guitar were sensational. But, suddenly, the Beijing-based duo changed their tune to a sweet 90s indie pop melody. Everyone was overwhelmed by their elaborate efforts on noise experiment.

The beauty of Chui Wan’s sophomore record comes from their own minimalist aesthetics. Lo-Fi’s gloomy purple light was a perfect fit for their psychedelic fuzz. The bassist immediately stole my soul once she started playing, and then their sci-fi keyboard threw me to space. Their music is more than music; it’s global perspective and history. A great mix of Islamic ditty, traditional Southeast Asian folk, golden age jazz, pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, and twentieth century’s progressive rock—it was the most splendid adventure I’ve ever endured. In their seven-minute experiment, “The Sound of Wilderness,” their looping, echoing guitar lines, polyrhythm, and murky “curse” created a spooky and trembling atmosphere that snagged everyone’s attention. Their encore, “Beijing is Sinking” was a complete odyssey with experiments of polyrhythm, the speed of drumbeats, tearing sounds of guitar distortion, and violin improvisation. OMG!

Experiencing music from another continent is always amazing. Feeling the magic of music that combines people from different cultures, different races, and different genders—all in a tiny venue—makes for the true spirit of equality.

WAIHO MELVIN YUEN | KXSU Business Director


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