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pop music is king in taiwan. the more commercial it is the more popular it seems to be. celine dion, 911, backstreet boys, coco,jacky cheung, andy lau, a-mei,...for the most part bands or singers that are manufactured are very popular here. there are some exceptions. wu bai and china blue who came out of the pub scene and are one of the most important indie bands.
zhang zhen yue and they actually play their own instruments and write
their own songs. wong faye wrote the music and some of the lyrics on her last album. and i think it is by far her most interesting release to date. zhang zhen yue is quite popular here as well and he writes and plays his own instruments too.
there are a bunch of other underground indie bands that often play little clubs here. bands like sugar plum fairy, sticky rice, ladybug, ltr, to name a few.

since i don't live near the clubs so i really don't get out to see them much. (i must be getting old). i did manage to see ladybug and sugar plum fairy open for seam when wong faye
they came through town. the fact that someone like seam would play here at all seems strange but it was good to see a show again. funny how the people that would annoy me at a show in seattle (tall selfish men standing in front so no one else can see, people standing on my toes, insipid conversations during the opening bands and even during seam...) found there way at this show to annoy me here too.

as for buying music in taipei, cds in general are cheaper than in the states. and if you like j-pop there are lots of cheapo comps. most shops will carry your bigger western acts and some alternative groups. stereolab, nick cave, anita lane, laibach,...for awhile it was easier for me to find can than brian eno.

pizzicato five but if you want more obscure stuff. say muslimgauze or nurse with wound then it becomes a little harder to find. there are two tower records but they are expensive and for the most part don't carry lesser known acts unless they have good distribution.

thankfully there is an alternative to tower. and it is called avantgarden. avantgarden is a little cubicle located inside the 2.31 cafe and they have a great selection from contemporary classical, to jazz, to pop, to electronica,to japanese. the owner mr. hsieh is really nice. if he likes you he will give you a discount on some stuff. or he will special order stuff for you if he can get it. he also occasionally reccomends stuff he thinks i would like. ironically the first thing i ever bought there was a local seattle band called land on the extreme label.

for anyone coming to taipei i reccomend checking out avantgarden. no. 27 lane 86 hsinyi road section 2 taipei taiwan. not far from the chiang kai shek memorial. they are only open 3pm-2am though.(these are new hours and i don't think they have been implemented yet as today when i was there at 5:30 they were still closed. they were open after 7 when i went back though.) and they are closed sunday.(sadly as of mid january 2000 avantgarden closed down. a taiwanese friend of mine invited to me to the final party for the regular avantgarden customers but i ended up not going. afterwards i heard mr. hsieh had asked about me. and i sort of wish i would of gone as he gave a free cd to each person. so i'm curious as to what he would of picked out for me. since closing down avantgarden mr. hsieh is now the buyer for the music department of the eslite chain of bookstores. this is the largest chain of bookstores in taiwan. at least the largest that stocks a generous amount of english language books. there is even an eslite music shop behind the taida university branch of the esltie bookstore. the selection is quite nice here. plus they have quite a few cds priced to sell. nearly all the hifi lounge series is priced at around 6 dollars u.s. so a decent replacement for avantgarden if a bit more expensive in general.)(recently avant garden re-opened under new ownership).

these days i tend to listen to a lot of japanese music. mainly p-5 they must have a following here as i see a lot of their cds around.but i have yet to really meet anyone who knows much about them.

i've also been getting into this japanese band called united future organization (ufo) but have been having a hard time finding any information on them. to hear them you probably wouldn't think they were japanese. they sound like they could be found on old movie soundtracks. and they even use some dialogue samples from russ meyer's faster pussycat kill! kill! they occasionally show up on acid jazz compilations.
but i really don't know that much about acid jazz. and the little i know wouldn't make me think of ufo. if anyone has more concrete info on the band please let me know. along with the japanese music i've been listening to i've been rediscovering old favourites of mine such as throbbing gristle, current 93, everything but the girl, cocteau twins...

i keep hoping someone like p-5 or cornelius will come here. i mean taiwan is so close to japan! but i doubt it will happen. ken ishii did come but i missed it for some reason. a friend of mine went and said it was really good. oh well, i'll just have to make due with the cds.


fpm ticketwell, since i wrote that something interesting happened. i was shopping at avant garden as usual when the boss mr. hsieh comes up to me and hands me two pieces of paper. i thought it was an add for a dj show. and who should be top billing but fantastic plastic machine! i was shocked and psyched. but then it gets better. the pieces of paper i thought were just flyers were actually tickets to go to the show and it was that night. and mr. hsieh was giving them to me! woo! so i called my friend peter to see if he wanted to go and to help me figure out where the show was. but unfortunately it was out in the suburbs in the east part of the city. an area both of us were unfamiliar with. and the phone number on the ticket was just an answering machine. we called mr. hsieh but even he was unfamiliar with the area. so disappointing to be so close to seeing someone i really wanted to see and not being able to. as a consolation we decided to go see star wars that had just opened here that day. but when we got there the next show that wasn't sold out wasn't until 3am. so we opted to go the next day. we decided to go grab a bite to eat at some late night chinese restaurant. on the stereo there they were playing instrumental versions of old songs like "moon river", "memories", "strangers in the night",... so it was fun to sit around and play name that tune. but still i would of much rather been enjoying the dj talents of fantastic plastic machine. it made me realize how much i really miss going to shows. oh well, if he came once maybe he will come again and hopefully i will have more advanced warning next time. i hadn't even heard about this show until it had practically happened. but then the english papers here are not exactly on the cutting edge.


for some reason the japanese band seagull screaming kiss her kiss her were in town the
other night. they played at one of the biggest discos in tapei @live. the show was
poorly promoted. i only knew about it because of a commercial on late night television.
anyways, i went and as luck would have it before the show someone was handing out free
tickets so i didn't even have to pay. they were the only band playing. so no need to
suffer through a terrible opening band. prior to the show i only knew four of their
songs which i have on various trattoria compilations. i liked those songs. live
they are nice and loud. it was great to experience that wall of noise again. it made
me a little homesick for seattle and all the shows i used to go to. the band is made
up of three women and one man. they spoke mainly english though the singer did attempt
some chinese which was met by amusement and approval by the audience. there was some
heckler in the audience asking for the singers room number and she would just say "i
need a STRONG man...". but it seemed by the end of the night she was getting tired of
him. they only played two songs i knew "count 0 number 1" and "angel". "angel" was the
last song before the encores and my favourite of theirs so i was happy.i only stayed
for the first encore because my roomate was really hating the show and wanted to get
going and he was my ride home. i bought a t-shirt that says "motor psycho" on the front
and seagull screaming kiss her kiss her in english and chinese on the back. i also
bought the limited edition taiwan comp. they were selling at the show. their studio
work seems to lack the raw energy of the live shows and i find i only like certain
songs of theirs in the studio version. i'm a little wary of buying more because of this
too. maybe its just a bit too straight forward rock n roll for me but i'd go see them
live again. the show was put on by rpm records a label that has published some
taiwan versions of japanese bands(kahimi karie, takako minekawa, ...) as well as importing
the japanese versions at decent prices so i'm hoping they will be able to bring more
japanese bands in the future. i would love to see hideki kaji, cornelius, kahimi
karie, or p5. but i have a feeling that may just be a dream on my part. but as willy
wonka says "we are the music makers we are the dreamers of the dreams".


well, i may have to start eating my words about no one i like coming to taiwan. as in early august pink martini were in town. funny thing about pink martini is that i first heard them from someone using one of their songs as the soundtrack for a flash movie they made on their site. on the strength of this i decided to go to their show.

the show was at the sun yat-sen memorial hall here in taipei. they played two nights here and one other on some other part of the island. i had never been to the auditorium at sun yat-sen. it's not a super large hall but much nicer than the usual smokey clubs i see bands in. one thing about the show that surprised me was that before the show began they played the taiwan national anthem over the loudspeakers! everyone stood up but there was nowhere to focus our attention. no flags, or pictures or anything just the empty stage. i've heard that in the past they used to even play the national anthem before movies here but no longer do. anyways, pink martini's music is a mix of bossa nova, classical, jazz, lounge, that sort of thing. i had read that the band was a 10 piece but i only saw 9 people on stage. maybe someone couldn't make it. they performed both original material as well as covers. i was suprised that they didn't perform "que sera sera" as i think that is a favourite here in taiwan. but they did perform "brazil" and "andalucia". the lead singer china forbes can really sing. i was impressed with her range and that she could pull it off live. towards the beginning of the show she said to the audience "if you know the words just feel free to sing along" then she proceeded to sing a song in french. most of the songs she sang were in english, however she did sing some songs in french, japanese, and spanish i believe. later in the show she said to the audience "i hear you like to cha-cha here. is it true? i know they told you not to dance. so i'll cha-cha up here and you can join in in your heads.." i've never been able to see music like this performed live so for me it was a great experience. i just hope that they will come back again or more bands will come to taipei and actually be publicized well enough for me to hear about can reach the official pink martini site here.).


the last ten cds i've bought(1 being most recent):

  1. v - united future organization
  2. the astrud gilberto album - astrud gilberto
  3. barry 7's connectors - 21 rare library tracks
  4. salt-nurse with wound/music for the horse hospital - current 93(double cd, one nurse with wound one current 93)
  5. the long weekend - hideki kaji
  6. hosono house - haruomi hosono
  7. country gazette - world standard
  8. here come the warm jets - brian eno
  9. the covenant, the sword and the arm of the lord - cabaret voltaire
  10. red mecca - cabaret voltaire


my little page on exotica

email me

site map

a few links:

musical taste a site where people can give each other a taste of songs they like the best and why. very cool.

avant garden the avant garden site though i don't think it is maintained any longer.

nurse with wound

legendary pink dots

current 93

jeff greinke

wong faye


fantastic plastic machine

radio this site is all in chinese. but if you click on the dials you get a selection of numbers which all have different songs. don cherry to stockhausen. this site inspired me to buy some stockhausen.

lux aeterna a music site mostly in chinese about throbbing gristle, current 93, coil...apparently the woman who runs it was one of the first people to introduce bands such as these to taiwan. she even gave lectures on them.