Album: Sa Dingding, Harmony (Wrasse)

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The Independent Culture

Sa Dingding's follow-up to her 2008 debut album lies somewhere between her own rural Chinese roots and producer Marius De Vries' assured grasp of occidental pop modes, honed over decades of work with the likes of Madonna, Massive Attack, Elbow and Bjork's breakthrough Debut.

There's a similar sense of an independent poetic spirit seeking out fresh ways of expressing herself, though in Sa Dingding's case she incorporates more recognisably native elements, both through Chinese instrumentation such as the Gu Zheng zither, Pipa lute and Wa flute, and in the folk-tale roots of much of her imagery. "Girl In A Green Dress", for instance, is redolent of "the scent of a flower/ upstream along the rivulet", and the rare snow lotus in "Hua" confirms how "eternity is not an endless wonder, it's just the blink of an eye, within your heart". Elsewhere, "Xi Carnival" sets Buddhist scripture to an uptempo groove. Musically, "Ha Ha Li Li" provides the most propulsive deep bass groove for Sa Dingding's vocal blend of stealthy intimacy and keening ululation, both aspects extended further through the "self-created language" employed on "Yun Yun Nan Nan" and the Heart Sutra, "Xi Ran Ning Po".

Download this Ha Ha Li Li; Girl In A Green Dress; Yun Yun Nan Nan; Blue Horse