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The Labor Exchange Band
The Night March of the Chrysanthemums
Trees and Art Music, Taiwan (

cd cover This band presents an interesting mix of elements. Formed in 1993 to perform at a rally against a major dam project, they chose to sing 'mountain songs' of the threatened Hakka, a Chinese ethnic minority whose name literally translates as 'the guest people.' The core of this recording is political story songs (often poetically translated into English in the notes) about economics, development, farm policy and such, but played out in parables about highways, motorcycles, a young person's hopes or an old mans shattered dreams. The music is centered around a simple guitar chord structure, played on the 'moon lute' but right out of the European folk-pop tradition, sung a little too carefully at times, but augmented by some interesting touches of Chinese drumming, raspy reeds, traditional string instruments, some odd-ball audio effects and seemingly with a bit of influence from both traditional Chinese and avant garde theater. There is a simple beauty to all of this, a constrained, elegant tension in the music that the average western listener would not associate with political protest but that may be equally effective in focusing a nation's attention on its own social ills. - CF

Listen to "Ah-Cheng goes to southeast Asia"

Audio ©2002 Trees Music and Art, Taiwan, and used with their permission

CD available at cdRoots

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