Aphasia: Shoegazing with Old Taipei

Taipei-based indie band Aphasia | 阿飛西雅 played a set marked by their controlled balance between sound, music, and noise at the screening of silent film The Morning of Taipei 「台北之晨」. The event took place in part of the Taipei Film Festival.

The Morning of Taipei is an experimental film directed by Taiwanese director Bai Jing-Re (白景瑞). This film was made after Bai returned to Taiwan after having studied in Italy. The film begins with long shots capturing pastoral images of Taipei: slow-moving tricycles on city streets, men carrying water, elderly Tai-Chi practitioners in the park, etc. Images of progress and youth follow. With a visual sensitivity and a “chugging-forward” rock rhythm, Aphasia played with changes in tempo, harmony, and song structure to echo the rhythm of the editorial cuts and camera movements in the film.

I liked their “noisy” section. Noise went with spiritualism - quite well. They stripped away layers of sound one by one. Guitar feedback took centerstage. Timbre displaced harmony as images of Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian iconography surfaced. The band implanted a block of sheer silence to coincide with the close-up shot of a bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ. The “progress section” showcased an Aphasia song. Major key, vigorous tempo, layered texture, creamy effects, and teleological sensibility all add up to make a now-classic shoegaze sonic ecology.

Aphasia consists of former members of Nipples. As a Nipples fan, I went the show expecting to be smothered by guitar noise and feedback. I found that Aphasia seems toned down compared to Nipples. Aphasia withdraws from Nipples’ sonic fringes and projected a flatter tonal contour. No vocals, no words, just an instrumental dialogue between the guitars and the bass rhythmically backed up by the drums. There was sludge, tons of delay on the guitar. There was a hint of rigor proffered by the bassist. I still craved for more dynamics in terms of texture, frequency, and rhythm.

Last year, Aphasia worked on the soundtrack to Taiwanese-produced film Summer Tail 「夏天的尾巴」. Directed by 鄭文堂, Summer Tail stars Enno Cheng (鄭宜農). Aphasia's bassist KK mentioned that this soundtrack is more “high school.” Compared to Nipples, Aphasia seemingly exudes more maturity through their “leveled” expressions. Yet I still miss the torrent aesthetics of Nipples. In any case, I look forward to Aphasia’s first album entitled Aphasia【失語症】. The album will be released at Formoz Festival at the end of the month by White Wabbit Records.

Here are some video snippets of the screening/performance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Ha-ha. I didn't know there's are group named "Nipples". :P