Yan Jun - Contradictions (Plays 4 Writers)

(October 2023)

Reading Group is thrilled to release Contradictions (plays 4 writers), the new LP by legendary musician and poet Yan Jun. Yan Jun has been a central figure in the (non-)music, noise, sound, and experimental performance scenes both in his native Beijing and in the global subterranean community for decades. He founded the Beijing-based experimental label Sub Jam in 2000 and has since collaborated with Lionel Marchetti, Axel Dörner, Toshimaru Nakamura, Torturing Nurse, and many more.

On Contradictions, Jun “plays 4 writers”––interpreting, across five pieces, the formal, conceptual, and linguistic challenges of literary and theoretical figures as constraints and guides for sound composition and experimental performance. On tracks A1 and A2, Jun “plays” Lu Xun, the early twentieth-century Chinese literary critic and associate of the League of Left-Wing Writers in the 1930s. These two iterations of “behaviors in environment” explore Lu Xun’s contradictory descriptions of sound and silence, forming two seemingly “empty” field recordings as containers for the full silence of non-intentional action. The following track, uses “acoustic mechanisms” to interpret a provocation from post-Marxist theorist Slavoj Žižek about the mechanization of sexuality and desire in expanding global capitalism, resulting in a noise sequence indexing the battery-operated commodification of eroticism. On the B-side, Jun “plays Jean Baudrillard” by exploring the “hyper-real” of audio feedback without a manual interface. The final track recalls Jun’s work for voice and speech, interpreting Samuel Beckett by reading through the Chinese translation of Beckett’s Texts for Nothing silently––except for the enunciated floating signifier 我 (I, my, me). In the extensive liner notes by the artist, he sums up this piece in language that provides a clue to the record as a whole: “How about colliding and annihilating everything through the voice of this ‘I’ then we deal with the limit of the form?”

Contradictions (plays 4 writers), edition of 200 LPs with handwritten titles. Original liner notes in Chinese and English by Yan Jun.
Mastered by Taku Unami and released in 2023 by Reading Group (RG29).

Ships October 2023. Pre-order from Bandcamp.

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