By Paris365 on January 07, 2013No comments
Chinese artist Ceng Yang's new mini-album Vie opens with an intro track called "序" (Google translation: "Ordered"), which begins with some sort of wood instrument and the sounds of a forest. Seconds later, dark orchestral music begins. It feels very much like film score. The sort you hear when something really bad is going to happen -- like a murder. The first song, "拖著時光的列車" (Google: "Train Dragged His Time"), also begins with orchestration, though it's slightly less creepy, more like the sort of Disney music you'd hear during a chase scene. After about a minute we hear the sound of running water and then the orchestration ceases as Ceng begins singing, accompanied by drums, new age-ish synth and various electro-tinkering. It sounds as though she's almost whispering, as she sings oh-so-quietly, but around the three minute mark the beats get a bit louder and she opens up her voice, singing at a normal level, though her voice is still soft as cotton. The title of this mini-album is Vie, which is french for "life," so it should come as no surprise that she uses the word "l'amour," which is French for "love," quite a few times during this otherwise Mandarin song.
The dark orchestration returns as "很久以前的故事" (Google: "A Long Time Ago Story") begins. Then we hear a wood instrument and... a demon grunting? Or a lion roaring, maybe? Whatever it is, it sounds downright evil. Yet Ceng begins singing beautifully immediately following it, her voice smooth as silk and entirely uplifting. That said, there is some chanting in the background that does sound slightly ominous. But only slightly. The demon aside, it really is a gorgeous song, Ceng's voice calling to mind Sarah Brightman with a hint of French singer Melissa Mars. Meanwhile, the arrangement calls to mind Enigma, the way they blend various natural sounds together with live instruments and samples.
"哪裡是你的天空之城" (Google: "Where Is Your Castle In The Sky") begins with acoustic guitar and faint synth before Ceng starts singing almost at a whisper. The beat here is total electro-pop and you could even call it trip-hop because it's slow and deep and totally has that gloomy Massive Attack vibe. I believe some of this song is in English, but her vocals are so quiet that I can't quite decipher what she's singing. The only line I'm pretty confident about is "fall to die." Regardless, it's such a pristine, enchanting song. You could even say that Ceng sounds like a fairy.
The last proper song is "直到世界末日" (Google: "Until The End Of The World") and it starts off with the sound of birds chirping. Once Ceng starts singing we hear organic percussion instruments and what I believe to be a harp. It proves to be the most upbeat track on the mini-album with parts where the beats are so strong and fast that you could almost dance to them. "La, la, la, la," she sings over and over and it's nothing short of intoxicating. You'll feel like a spell is being cast on you.
"To Be Continued" is a rather unusual outro. It begins with the sound of a rooster doing its thing then we hear various other farm animals while a violin or similar instrument plays. Then there are footsteps for a few seconds just before the track begins to fade out, ending this truly original and inspired work. -Michael McCarthy