For reasons not fully clear to me (but in retrospect I am ok with), an email arrived this morning via Bandcamp, that online listening station/record store, with exciting news of a forthcoming album from yaogun stalwarts PK14.
Known for Gang-of-Four-esque post-punk, PK14 is one of the only yaogun acts still playing music together in their third decade—a stat that is not just a rarity but an accomplishment in and of itself: Yaogun, remember, is only in its fourth decade. And, importantly, PK14 still makes great music this far into their career, while many of their so-called peers peter out before a second album.
Back in October of 2012—over four years since their last release—the band hunkered down in the Chicago studio of one of their musical idols, Steve Albini, who engineered the album, and producer Henrik Oja, a long-time PKollaborater.
“We love [Albini’s] songs and his sound, so we were pretty nervous when we first met him,” frontman Yang Haisong told Time Out. “We had no idea what it was going to be like, but he was quite relaxed—we talked about baseball, poker, Chinese food and things and it was okay.”
As of right now, the English-speaking world lacks a place to catch a preview of this upcoming record, but, fortunately for those reading this, you’ll learn that on the band’s Douban page are four streaming album tracks, offering what’s in store, under the heading of “New 4.” The album is called 1984 “because it’s the reality,” Yang said in the aforementioned Time Out piece, “not only in China, but around the world.”
While the album’s opening track, “You and Me,” is a more measured and darkly plodding tune, by the time we reach the second preview tune, “Crazy Woman” (album track 4), the ferocity has built for the song’s denouement; when Yang wails “I’ve already forgotten everything,” one can’t help but refer to the album’s title and recall Orwellian arithmetic and sworn, long-time enemy forces. Meanwhile, the rhythm section’s big, booming beats unite, as in the best of PK14’s material throughout the years, with a growling and driving bass that propels the music forward at amazing speeds. Which is not to say that this song, or any of the songs, are fast—or, one might more accurately say, any faster than they ought to be—but that they are thrust forward with an urgency matched by the furious yelp of Yang’s vocals, while guitarist Xu Bo is careful with his added flourishes, whether a minimal guitar solo, or an added effect. The nearly-title track, “1984 pt. II,” the album’s closer, is a classic PK14 offering: once again, the rhythm section proves itself the rock-solid foundations upon which the entire project stands, offering a straightforward and propulsive base into and around which even synthy additions find a place, leaving one with the intense desire to hear pt. I.
Soon enough, pt. I, and the whole album, will reveal itself: Currently available for pre-order via record label Maybe Mars’s Bandcamp page, 1984 will be released Aug 29.