13 déc. 2008, 17h20m
Once a country that was deemed by critics as not able to develop a successful music scene of any kind because of its size, Taiwan’s indie rock scene is in full bloom. More Taiwanese kids are rocking the mod haircuts, skinny jeans, and button-down shirts, and it’s all thanks to bands like Aphasia, who are inspiring avant-garde, progressive music in Asia. Reborn from the 90’s band Nipples, core couple Yi-Jyun Wu (guitar) and KK (bass) are interested in creating a provocative sound inspired by aggressive social attitude. Adding second guitarist Su to the band, the two-guitar setup allows for a palatable combination of feedback and distortions, along with raw, angular sounds. Rounding out the band is drummer Yonker, who, according to Aphasia, has provided youth and freshness. Aphasia is influenced heavily by Sonic Youth, and Yonker is able to provide the Steve Shelley style that the threesome was looking for.
Their debut album, released on White Wabbit records (the brainchild of member KK and a must-visit record shop in Taipei), is a musical reflection of the everyday life of the band members’ hometown of Taipei. Their goal on the album was to recreate the city in music form. I happened to look up pictures of Taipei markets and scenery for fun while listening to the album, and it gave me a really nice sensory experience.
One of the great parts about The Crocodile Society of Aphasia is that it blends genres together well. Post-rock and post-metal are infused in the songs along with an atmospheric feel. The skilled layering of quiet, soothing rock on top of tour-de-force riff sections keeps the listener interested. In having conversations about the album with my fiancé, I found it very hard to put words to the description of the work as a whole. That is just what Aphasia was going for. The band consciously desired for the album to be a pleasurable synthesis of magic and reality, the music speaking for itself. Despite wanting the music to be spokesperson of their idea of Taipei, the song titles are chock full of imagery that gives Westerners a small glimpse into the world of the Taiwanese (titles like “Behind the River”, and “Rainy Season”, to name a few). Rainy, wet imagery finds its way into the names of many of the songs. Taipei lies in a bowl-shaped valley with two main rivers. It is wet most of the year in the Republic of China capital, with hot, rainy summers and cool, damp winters. The listener feels the dampness throughout the songs, exemplifying the climate by way of the delicate feel that the guitar and drums provide during most of the duration of the tracks. The chaotic, metallic guitar parts are reminiscent of the other elements of Taipei, the major industrial area that contrasts with the soggy, somber landscape and weather. Most of Taiwan’s textile factories have their homes in Taipei, and shipbuilding is done in the port of Keelung east of the city.
With all of these ideas meshed into an album, a potential listener might think that the album is too tedious. It is not so; The Crocodile Society of Aphasia is a very easy listen, one that seems to go by faster than desired. Learning more about the band and their music also provided me with an interesting look into the East meets West feel that is going on in Taiwan today. Take a look at Taipei’s night markets; one might get an underdeveloped country vibe. However, take a look at some photos of the freeway system, architectural feats, and subculture scene - they provide a very different story. For the curious indie rock fan that seeks to learn a little bit more about an island that deserves a closer look, give a listen to Aphasia.