Xinsuanlei – II

The pinyin compound word xinsuanlei (i.e. 辛酸泪, as the layout will probably say) means “Bitter Tears”. If this is originally some clever reference, a lower back tattoo concept or simply a heartfelt emotion, this reviewer knows not. Either way, it comes before us here as the name of a guitar based noise/drone project. This is its second recording, it is with iron-clad logic entitled II, and it is as of yet unreleased. According to the man behind it (otherwise of Otdykh), there has been some interest from labels.

So it’s drone of the most droning kind. The recording, which is one uninterrupted 40 minute track, begins with some electronic humming that sounds an awful lot like an electric guitar with ground noise issues. Someone is barely touching the strings, and there’s a whiff of feedback in the soft buzzing. Soon thereafter, the track intensifies into a slightly more noisy affair, drowning in delay and distortion, and taking out most of the guitar feel from the noise. After a while, it subsides, and a variation of the initial style reappears.

This dynamic could be said to be a theme of sorts on II, appearing over and over again in different guises. At times there’s a very clear sense of barely-plucked strings and guitar amp ground noise and feedback, at others more elaborate, louder noise takes over and the sound is closer to monotonous harsh noise of the wall variety. It is not uncommon for the whole sound to fade to almost nothing, only to come back in one of the two main modes again.

There are some very ugly volume adjustments which are outright annoying and threaten to take you out of it (whatever “it” might be), but other than that this is a rather effective affair. At times the sparse notes evoke vague memories of obscure 90’s “experimental” black metal demos, or perhaps Aghast, at others it’s just swell electronics.

II is very unpolished and not for everyone. It is likely that the style will be refined as 辛酸泪 keeps doing what he does, and already at this stage it is well worth a listen or two. Let’s hope someone picks this up in short order. Until then, you can download the recording in high quality FLAC here, and contact Xinsuanlei on this address.

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