Stone Bell opens to the earthy yet effortless voice of Nego Elias on When You Come. Originally intended for a composition by fellow Brazilian C Dala, the Portuguese vocals* sound equally at home in this setting where a unison melody line on the bass, acoustic guitar and synth raises the excitement levels in the chorus. Rushing along at a breakneck bpm Casting Off threatens to get torn apart by its own inertia, but conversely ends up chilling in a most unexpected and satisfying way. After a harmonious dismount courtesy of Chinese jinghu, we're off to Faraway Places where eminently danceable beats collide with Japanese shamisen and male vocals in the Esashi Oiwake style of Hokkaido island. We're firmly in deep-house territory on Undecided. A suona calls out a single sustained note shofar-like as if from a mountain top. Erhu melodies are picked up, chopped, dropped, and picked up again to be echoed on the electric piano. Invocation opens with a tribal feel thanks to Japanese hira-daiko, shime-daiko. and shakuhachi. The track soon blossoms as the first shakuhachi is joined by a second in airy harmony and more of the Esashi Oiwake male vocals, this time drawn out like molasses to the point of digital rupture. Finally, it's time to lower the heart-rate with Waterless Well. We're led in this dubby meditation by the shomyo chanting of a Buddhist monk, interspersed with a koto melody that resonates down the centuries.
* used here under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The vocal track can be downloaded in isolation from ccMixter.org.
MoShang is the Chinese moniker of Jean Marais, who began as a choral singer in the early 1980s in Cape Town, South Africa – at which time he acquired his first computer, a Commodore VIC-20. It would take some time, however, for his love of music and computers to find its ideal expression. Marais first earned acclaim as lead singer/frontman of the South African art-rock band Duusman and as saxophonist for the group Tsunami; he also served as producer on three award-winning albums honoring poet Breyten Breytenbach and formed half of the Afrikaans pop duo 12Hz. He garnered South Africa’s prestigious Avanti Award for his score to the short film “Angels in a Cage” His music was featured on the HDTV Discovery Channel production “Fantastic Festivals Of The World.”
Marais relocated to the Taiwanese city of Taichung in 2003; his first release as MoShang, Made in Taiwan, was released on his Onse Plate (Afrikaans for “Our Records”) imprint in 2004. His second, Chill Dynasty, followed in 2006. In 2007, he made the complete 14 track remix album "Asian Variations" available for free download under a Creative Commons license.
“I’ve always been fascinated by Asia, and Taiwan, with its vast Chinese musical heritage, seemed the perfect place for me,” he says. “I’ve fallen in love with Taiwan and its people; this country has truly reinvigorated my creative process. I am as excited about the musical possibilities now as the day I arrived.”