Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The debut album Alive of two years ago by this photogenic Chinese singer was a mish-mash of electro-pop, slightly twee vocals, Chinese folk, new age blandness and deadening over-production.
This new album however -- while still mining electro-pop and again putting traditional instruments alongside synths -- is a much more interesting item.
The opener -- a crunching Ha Ha Li Li with odd yelps, ululations, urgently whispered lyrics and strident percussion -- and the oddball Lucky Day wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a recent Yoko Ono album.
Across the 11 tracks there is still that production which won’t leave well enough alone and tosses in another layer of backing vocals (Tibetan chants!) or exotic instruments like the pipa (Chinese lute) and erhu (two-string fiddle).
But for the most part the pop consciousness and economy has been upped, the songs sound ripe for samplers with their strange vocals or effects, and the little girl voice of the debut has given way to a more confidently experimental singer.
She moves from Mandarin and Sanskrit to English; the dark ballad Pomegranate Woman, the slightly eerie but romantic Blue Horse and the dreamy Yun Yun Nan Nan are standouts; and Xi Carnival lets in the party spirit.
Sa DingDing -- who was at Womad in 2009 -- just needs to have the eye-candy video for Ha Ha Li Li onto local video shows to get the exposure she deserves for this odd but interesting album.