Monday 9 December 2013


It's always a really fun thing to experience a new song from Aristophanes貍貓. She's a rapper from Taiwan who is also a teacher (mainly helping to write children write stories, as I found out when I interviewed her) – the subjects she talks about in her raps range from the politics of Taiwan and the prospective lives of unborn children, to her own versions of Chinese folk tales; her voice is elastic, shaped and pulled by its master to express feelings and passions in each rap very effectively.

But what's also exciting about Aristophanes is how she presents her work: each song is a collaboration with an awesome producer. There's Lidly's blissful beats, the harsh electro of Sonic Deadhorse, canooooopy's experimentalism and Petechan's traditional boom-bap breed of hip hop, and the chill of Luviia (who recently provided a guest mix for YES/NO), to name a few. It's a varied bunch of beatsmiths and trackmakers who help to augment Aristophanes' intense flow sharp, interesting soundscapes.

And it's happened again. She's collaborated with Nagoya-based trackmaker, DJ and painter, 食品まつり aka Foodman (the Japanese, 'shokuhin matsuri', means 'Food Festival') to produce the wildly experimental track '核' – which in Chinese ('Hé') means 'Nucleus' or 'Nuclear' or 'Stone' (just 'Nucleus' – 'Kaku' – in Japanese). Prepare your ears.

I've been meaning, or rather waiting, to write about Foodman for a while, having kept my eyes and ears on his SoundCloud since I stumbled across it a few months ago; right now, it seems a good a time as ever to feature his surreal, noisy music. Screaming into life, his latest work with Aristophanes features endlessly distorted samples, placed in simple melodic patterns that sound like electric guitar riffs put through an industrial blender with a ZX Spectrum. The almost indistinct beat carries with it a juke rhythm punctuated by booming heart-thuds of kick drum, your mind picking out the typical syncopation carried in the genre amidst the atonal white noise screeches and permitting your head to nod a little. It's juicily grating.

The perfect partner for Foodman's fractured sounds, Aristophanes' rap is typically frenetic, marked by burning intakes of breath and the spitting out of sharp syllables in a harsh yet near-lethargic, sometimes sensual whispering. Her flow is vital and colourful, the perfect match for her words which are unique in that they discuss subject matter not typically discussed in rap. Through quantum mechanics and metaphysics she poses existential questions and statements: "Can you get closer to the truth after burning your imagination?" – "You need gods, so you create them" – "penetrate the line between life and death by your thoughts." Thankfully there is a translation of her Mandarin rhymes, and what becomes evident is Aristophanes' eminence as a cerebral, poetic rapper whose lyrics aim to provoke as much thought and cause as much alarm as other rappers do; but being an individual person, she does it her way.

Read through those lyrics by clicking round about here.

Find Aristophanes 貍貓 on Weibo
Like Aristophanes 貍貓 on Facebook
Listen to Aristophanes 貍貓 on Soundcloud
Follow Aristophanes 貍貓 on Twitter

Listen to 食品まつり aka Foodman on SoundCloud
Like 食品まつり aka Foodman on Facebook
Follow 食品まつり aka Foodman on Twitter

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