Bei Bei & Shawn Lee
Into The Wind
Ubiquity : 2010
Ubiquity : 2010
A guzheng is a stringed Chinese instrument made with a pluck half-tube zither and movable bridges. It can have up to 25 steel strings and is the parent instrument of the Japanese koto. Sounds like something somebody would write a pictureless book about, right?
Now take that imposing hunk of wood and metal and place a foxy twenty-something in front of it. Then saturate the guzheng’s sound with bubbles of jazz, soul, electronica, funk and even Hip-Hop. Voila, Into the Wind, a balloon sculpture of genres is born.
As deduced, Bei Bei is that voluptuous cutie holding down the guzheng and Shawn Lee is that multi-instrumentalist, genre-twisting contortionist. The LP takes on the personality of both, but Bei Bei’s oriental aesthetic takes on the dominant trait. The remake of Billy Paul’s “East” comes to mind with its rapid-fire arpeggios that convert an originally tripped-out soul piece that would normally sound like East of New York City to one that sounds East of Hong Kong. “Make Me Stronger,” on the other hand, displays a more understated guzheng, barely audible over Georgia Anne Muldrow’s gypsy-like vocals.
At times, it’s hard to tell if Bei Bei and Shawn Lee are a band or are merely soundtrack producers. For instance, Into The Wind ’s title track screams martial arts flick theme song while pieces like “The Ambush” could easily blend in at a Blue Note showcase. However intentional the sonic range, the album performs some whirls that listeners may not be prepared for.
For a project that sparked from online file sharing, Into The Wind breaks a new seal in genre mixing. It doesn’t sound forced or overly ambitious. Clearly, East has met West, and though music often does not do well with blind dates, this particular hook-up has found chemistry.