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Music Dumplings: A Melting Pot Of Heritage
Djang San's "Musical Dumplings" offers 10 new tracks of varying musical influences that ultimately blend together to offer profound insight into the artist's heritage
By Suzanne Lin
(more articles from this author)
2014-01-31
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Djang San 张思安 recently released a new album called "Music Dumplings 音乐饺子", undoubtedly whetting music enthusiasts' appetites for his unique brand of diverse artistry. The musician has multiple personas he has gone since his first visit to China in 2000. Born Jean-Sébastien Héry in France, he was called Zhang Si'an upon his arrival, which functions both as a phoneticized version of his birth name and according to Djang San, an accurate description of his personality: "si" represents thinking, while "an" means calm. These qualities are reflected in Music Dumplings, along with the musician's ties to both France and China.

Djang San starts the album off with the almost titular track "Music Dumpling", an instrumental electronic offering that anchors itself with a strong beat in the background, while experimenting with different sounds and instruments. It nicely sets up the mood for the rest of the album with its rich blend of sounds, as the artist has taken care not to craft each "music dumpling" the same way.

While some tracks, such as "Music Dumpling", "Cow Street", and "Hainan Haikou" are devoid of words, others contain snippets of conversations, like "On The Shores Of TsingTao" and "Strange Night In Beijing". Both manage to evoke feelings of actually strolling along the named cities with the artist thanks to the inclusion of verbal cues. The former is particularly effective at conveying a slice of life due to Djang San's use of sounds of bowls clinking and woodwork.

Vocals appear on "She Wants Everything" and "Shen Me Shi (Hua Fei Hua)" in English and Mandarin respectively. Djang San takes a softer acoustic approach to these tracks, which further differentiate them from the other offerings on the album. It is interesting to note that "Shen Me Shi" also acts as a cultural tribute of sorts, as its lyrics are based off a poem by Bai Ju Yi of the Tang Dynasty.

Ending the album is a track titled "HK GZ ½", which nicely ties together the incredibly diverse "Musical Dumplings". The song opens with an attendant asking Djang San questions in English on his way from Guangzhou to Hong Kong to visit a friend. She inquires about his current city of living and his nationality, to which he replies "Beijing" and "French" respectively. "HK GZ ½" also closes out with a message about the unfortunate delay of the train in Cantonese, Mandarin, and finally, English. Ultimately, while "Musical Dumplings" features tracks that contain a variety of influences like electronic, folk, and rock, it all exists on the same album to serve as a poignant summary of Djang San's background and snippets of his life in China.


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