Sheng Xiang & Band
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Sheng Xiang & Band

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Music

The best kept secret in music

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Discography

Lin Sheng-xiang Featuring Takashi Hirayasu , Ken Ohtake : Planting Trees (2006)
Sheng Xiang & Water 3: Getting Dark (2004)
Labor Exchange: The Night March of the Chrysanthemums (2001)
Labor Exchange: Let Us Sing the Mountain Songs (1999)

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Sheng Xiang was born in the farming village of Meinung in southern Taiwan. The children of farmers and pig breeders, Sheng Xiang and his siblings spent a wonderful yet difficult childhood on the farm.
Sheng Xiang started composing his own music as a child without any formal training. His mother says that Sheng Xiangmost likely inherited his talent from his grandmother, who loved to sing the traditional ¡¥mountain songs¡¦ that depicted the difficulties and hardships of rural life for Hakka people.

In the 1990s, a controversial proposal for the construction of a dam in Meinung spawned a popular opposition movement, which brought Sheng Xiang together with the poet Zhong Yongfeng, who was one of the movement¡¦s organizers. Also born into an agricultural family, Yongfeng wrote poetry in the Hakka language that was inspired by rural life.

Sheng Xiang and Yongfeng collaborated and released an album inspired by the Meinung anti-dam movement -- "Let Us Sing the Mountain Songs"-- in 1999. Around the same time, with some musicians from a previous group, Sheng Xiang formed the Labor Exchange Band. The next year, in 2000, he was awarded the Best Producer and the Best Composer awards at the Golden Melody Awards, Taiwan¡¦s most prestigious music awards.

The momentum continued into 2001, when Labor Exchange released ¡§The Night March of the Chrysanthemums,¡¨ an album inspired by the plight of modern farmers and agricultural industries in Taiwan. The next year, Labor Exchange ran away with the Best Band of the Golden Melody Award, stunning the Taiwanese pop music world. Although the band disbanded in 2003 before completing their third album, Sheng Xiang and Yongfeng continued their collaboration, with Sheng Xiang forming a new group, Sheng Xiang and Water3, in 2004. The new group released ¡§Getting Dark,¡¨ an album based on the theme of urban laborers.

Sheng Xiang¡¦s music has clearly evolved throughout his time with different music groups -- he describes these changes as simply "saying goodbye" to past compositions and moving on to seek out and capture his "voice of the present."

His first band, the Kuantze Music Pit, was full of the vitality of youth and a youngster¡¦s naive dream of transforming society. The group, composed of electric guitar, electric bass, and drums, released two live recordings, "At Home in the Village" and "Wandering about This Beautiful Island."

The Labor Exchange Band took on a different sound, using many traditional Chinese instruments such as the Yue Qin (a plucked instrument with four strings), San Xian (a three-string lute), Suona horn (Chinese woodwind instrument), Chinese tube, Hu Qin (Chinese two-string bowed instrument), and an array of Chinese percussion instruments. Labor Exchange made thriving protest music -- they sang about the anti-dam movement in Meinung and raged about agricultural policies which are bringing rural life in Taiwan to decay. Their success led them to nationwide and international tours. Conflicts within the group eventually caused their split before their third album was completed.

The highly anticipated ¡§Getting Dark¡¨ thus began a new music journey for Sheng Xiang and Water3. The album contains a mixture of more traditional forms than used in past recordings, with Hakka mountain songs, Hakka ba-yin (eight-tone) and Hengchun folk songs mixed with other styles such as Qianwangzhen (Taiwanese funeral procession music) and the Gezaixi (traditional Taiwanese opera music), Yilan folk songs, and Hoklo songs. Some musical sounds were even inspired by background music for video games.

A calmer and more personal work, ¡§Getting Dark¡¨ is filled with lyrical landscapes of social reality in urban Taiwan. In his lyrics, Yongfeng traces the bloodlines of people from agricultural villages to the city, and expresses concern for people at the bottom of the social stratum. On this album, Yongfeng leans toward a literary realist approach, confronting personal troubles with work and relationships, while also drawing from the stories of friends. Meanwhile, Sheng Xiang complements Yongfeng's stories by fusing traditional instrumentation with contemporary sounds. Sheng Xiang navigated carefully throughout the album's production, as he sought out a new style, a dialogue with a chaotic society, and a cure for his own restlessness.

Sheng Xiang has gathered together an eclectic group of musicians to form Water3. Xiao Liu (Lu Jiajun), the fretless electric bass player, is a veteran studio musician with more than two decades of experience in the recording field and over two hundred pop music recordings on his

resume. Mark Peng (Peng Jiaxi), the spirited and precise harmonica player, is a talented musician who marks his entrance into professional music with Water3. Zhong Yufeng is a rare crossover musician with formal training in Chinese classical and folk music in Taiwan. With Water3, she plays the Yue Qin, San Xian, and Pipa

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