Various Artists, Look Directly Into The Sun: China Pop 2007

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Apparently there can never be enough post-punk in the world for Martin Atkins. Not that all eighteen Chinese bands on Atkins 'astounding compilation traffic in the style that he helped pioneer as drummer for Public Image, Ltd. The China MC Brothers, for instance, sound like they think they've invented rap-rock — and they seem quite pleased with themselves about that discovery. So do Snapline, who sound like they've invented goth-pop with "Close Your Cold Eyes," and P.K. 14, who sound like they've invented Pere Ubu. You get three guesses as to what Demerit's "Fight Your Apathy" sounds like.

PiL drummer compiles Chinese post-punkā€¦and more

And yet, although some of these bands are more primitivist, and others more dark-sider, the drums here are frequently enough coldly funky, the guitars frequently enough, as they say, "angular," for the post-punk label to stick. After all, each of these groups is, in the strictest historical sense, "post-punk" — reassembling styles that have long-ago passed from the bits and pieces that remain. But even when the groups here sound uncannily familiar, they don't feel derivative — the excitement of discovery these bands give off is just that palpable. Not all of them sing in English, but those that do aren't merely nodding to the source of their influences — they see fame in their future, and it juices the music so thoroughly that whether there's such a possibility or not seems irrelevant.