A Mystical Land // The North of Japan

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From left to right: Japanese tourist, teenage bear, Ainu couple.

The island of Hokkaido is a world of wonder and mystery. For this musical journey, we are joined by experimental multi-media artist/dancer, Sammy Chien, who recently visited Hokkaido and shares with us his experiences with the native Ainu people.

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Taiwanese artist Sammy Chien

There are fascinating and disturbing parallels between the Ainu of Japan and First Nations cultures of Canada, a history of colonization and oppression – yet both groups are reclaiming their homeland and moving forward with dignity and hope.

Behold a mix of Hokkaido music – folk, rock, hip hop and more. Kane inuma!

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The Sound of Dragon across Time and Space

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If you are curious about blending two very distinct musical worlds, there has probably never been a better place and time than Vancouver and Now. As the city hosts large populations with European and Asian heritage, it seems inevitable that these cultures should mix and create something new and distinctly Canadian. As someone who has lived in the city for nearly 18 years, a city known for its openness and spirit of innovation, it surprises me how little musical cross-pollination seems to be happening. Enter the Sound of Dragon.

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Mark Armanini and Lan Tung in Taipei

With one foot in the folk traditions of China and the other in the wild improvisational aesthetic of jazz, the Sound of Dragon Ensemble is blazing a brave new standard for what Canadian music can be. The first hour of this week’s program presents an intriguing conversation with SODE composers Lan Tun, John Oliver, and Mark Armanini, longtime residents of Vancouver and scholars of sonic alchemy. Catch their spring concert this thursday!

Channel the Inner Stallion

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Man and horsehead fiddle

Happy year of the Rooster! However this week we travel to more of a horse lovin’ part of China. Explore the music of Inner Mongolia – an autonomous region rich in Mongol folk traditions mixing with Han Chinese culture and a serious inclination to rock. Throat singing and heavy guitars go together like boodog and Khar Khorum.

A Fullblown Gugak and Yangak Sonic Attack!

All hands and ears are back at the control board this week.  As South Korea is busy launching rockets into space, we have been given the heroic mission of exploring the many peaks and valleys of the South Korean soundscape..  The old (the Gugak), the new (the Yangak), the psychodilly 70s, the drum n bass music of 1672, , the hiphop, the trot, and nary a K-pop song in the lot (we respect you).  Yes, South Korea, in all its world-friendliness, has grown into the sophisticated polar-opposite of its twin (the Korea we don’t talk about).  But for all the modern dilemmas of open and closed minds, the twin Koreas will always share the same Gugak.  History is something you can’t take back.  Ditto for disco funk.

Alright I admit it, we couldn’t fit any Trot into the program.. but it’s an important piece of the Korean puzzle – the first global style to be adapted by Korean musicians, back when the nation was one.  So here’s some good ol’ Japa-merican inspired Foxtrot for you swingers out there:

China by way of Saturnscapes

We are back in full life-force this week, singing in your ears like a billion pollen-filled honey bees.  It is time we took a trip to China, the colossal 壹 in the room.  Here in Vancouver, we have a fairly intimate vantage point to view Chinese culture.  But there’s no doubt that beautiful secrets are hidden beneath the rolling pin of popular taste.

To aid in this quest for sonic glory, we are joined in-studio by Toronto-based synth-harmonic soundsmith Bryan Sutherland — half of veteran electro-punks OPOPO, and new cosmic manifestation Saturns.  He will create live future-bound sounds, debut freshly recorded material, discuss the problems with light suits, and somehow tie it all back to his Chinese ancestry.