Due to the recent Beijing Olympics, for better or worse, we’ve all been learning more about China. It was in this vein that the BBC show Newsnight presented a piece about a Chinese singer named Sa Dingding. Let’s not talk politics, she didn’t in her interview. China is a wonderful place for artists, end of interview. Maybe she truly believes that, maybe the government made no secret of the fact that they knew where her family lived, all I’m saying is that it is a little creepy to see that her album was produced by ShangHai To-Wing Culture Development Co. Ltd., and not, you know, by individuals.
Enough about all of that though, the point is, I heard about her on Newsnight and instantly fell in love with her music. Her album, “Alive” came out in 2007, but thanks to the Olympics and positive feedback in Europe, I recently got a hold of the CD, now available in the United States.
What’s it like? Well, for starters, no English. Mandarin, Sanskrit, even a self created language, but no, I do not understand a single word on this album. It doesn’t matter though, the music is so cinematic that just like when watching a television show in another language, you just kind of decide what you think is going on.
What is going on? A real East meets West kind of sound. Forget Ming Tsai! This is a real cultural blend. (A personal note to Ming Tsai: Please don’t take offense and come after me with one of your beautiful Kyocera ceramic knives!) Sa Dingding blends very traditional sounding folk songs with Westernized techno and rock sounds. On my favorite song, the title track “Alive”, I swear that some sort of harp or mandolin, totally jams out in a blues/soul kind of way. The album has simple, and beautiful, vocals cutting through a dense fabric of sounds.
Check out Sa Dingding’s “Alive”!