Li Jianhong - Soul Solitary

Released: March 1

Consisting of two-long form pieces, Soul Solitary is a wide-ranging psychedelic album created entirely with an electric guitar and some additional vocals. But even with this most basic of setups, the sheer amount of different sounds that are created here is mind-boggling. Li goes from one motif to the next almost effortlessly, playing generally whatever comes to mind in the moment with some sections having a definite chug of hazily familiar rock rhythms and other diving into a full blown drone aesthetic with little trills thrown in for flavor. The mastery over the his instrument is on full display as he cranks just about any sound you might imagine out of it. 

Both tracks were performed live at very different places nearly a year apart and the difference in the two performances is notable. The first track, sharing the name of the album itself and performed in Hangzhou, begins with some riffs that come across as rather raw with a great deal of twang but also breaking into more metal-esque chugs at time with Li letting out guttural shouts. But this only lasts for the first few minutes as he transitions into theme much more ethereal and droning, including a sung part around the midpoint that sounds nearly spiritual in its origins. 

The second performance on the album, "Waterfall" performed in Nancey, begins a bit more subtly with mountains of feedback and weird aural artifacts. There is no chugging, chords, or rhythmic devices - instead we are thrown into a purely abstract and atmospheric experience. Notable here is his use of periodic silences to punctuate some of his more odd musical phrasings produced by all manner of plucks, scratches, taps, and rather unconventional ways to make a guitar make sounds. These odd pieces are set into a section of their own that steadily grows noisier until we find ourselves returning to the mountains of feedback. For something performed entirely live and on the fly, these performances have a rather interesting unity to them and somehow manage to connect very different themes together well.   


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