Just a few days ago we advanced “Auphmoy” as an appetizer of their new project, “SMHD (Arte Contenido)” (acronym for Seconds Minutes Hours Days), and today we have in our hands the first of the four albums that will make up this creative combo with which Chenta Tsai makes it clear once again that their creativity is in full drive. Each new step that Chenta takes gives us the feeling that we are two ki…
Just a few days ago we advanced “Auphmoy” as an appetizer of their new project, “SMHD (Arte Contenido)” (acronym for Seconds Minutes Hours Days), and today we have in our hands the first of the four albums that will make up this creative combo with which Chenta Tsai makes it clear once again that their creativity is in full drive. Each new step that Chenta takes gives us the feeling that we are two kilometers ahead of everyone else. This is especially admirable in these fast, urgent, lightspeed times, when it is difficult to settle down and get comfortable because once you do you realize you aren’t keeping up.
The project comes from the conflict that currently exists between the definition of content creator and artist, the search for authenticity in a context of cloned identities. That’s where the concept of “Arte Contenido” (Content Art) comes from, which drives these four albums, and which somehow delves into that idea that Chenta is so focused on: What is identity? Is it something static and consistent? Can we have multiple identities? What does the idea of identity itself mean for an artist? Twenty-first century philosophy in the mind of a relentless, prolific, multidisciplinary creator, who not only sees the times we live in, with the accuracy of a surgeon, on a conceptual level, but also on an artistic level, and of course, musically.
“Afong (Mordió La Mano Del Amo)” is the equivalent of the Minutes section of “SMHD (Arte Contenido)”. The title comes from Afong Moy, the first known female Chinese immigrant to arrive to the United States in 1834. Taken by the Carne brothers from Guangzhou, she was exhibited around the country as “The Chinese Lady”. It is a reflection on stereotypes and identities, and that subtitle (which means, “She bit the hand that feeds her”) shows us the path the artist can follow to become totally free, shaking off their chains and embracing their complexities and multiplicities.
But there is more here than sociological concepts. Because in a world where TikTok tries to convince us that we don’t need songs longer than 30 seconds, and a mixtape is an exercise in nostalgia dressed up as modernity, PUTOCHINOMARICÓN is giving us songs that are three at the same time, united, overlapping, interconnected. This approach makes the exercise of listening to music, composing it, developing it, acquire new dimensions. These are songs to listen to a thousand times, to analyze to the point of exasperation. To dance to and sing along with, to think about, to love, to hate, but never forget.
This first album opens with “íntró (éstádó cónstánté dé críngé)”, and it does so to the beat of house, which breaks down between jungle and digicore movements. But above all, it lays the ground for everything this project wants to develop. Just listen to these lines: “Pura estética / Sin ética” (Pure esthetics / Without ethics), “¿Quién nos mira detrás de la cámara?” (Who is looking at us behind the camera?), “¿Qué es ‘tu visibilidad’? / ¿Qué quieres ‘visibilizar’?” (What is ‘your visibility’? / What do you want to make ‘visible’?). And they go on. There are so many more. “síndrómé dél ímpóstór / nó mérécé lá péná / párá nó dár péná” plays with the same ingredients, but does so less aggressively, giving special relevance to its fleeting delicacy, agile, playful, melodically delicious, until we reach that schizophrenic ending of “párá nó dár péná”. This song marks the path toward the necessary distancing from discrimination, toward self-recognition, self-acknowledgement, defining oneself through one’s own paths, and includes the collaboration of Berna Wang, an activist and poet, who adds her readings to this sound collage. “ántífá káwáíí / nárrátívá” is also included on “Auphmoy”, and the power returns again, the more aggressive frequencies, the most unrepentant dance… An excellent collaboration with New Sylveon (one of the most interesting artists on the scene in Moscow right now) who coproduces alongside Chenta “ántífá káwáíí”; another innovative artist who shares a musical language with PUTOCHINOMARICÓN and who is making a contemporary Kocmo-pok sound (Space Disco in Russian) with sound collages full of fantasy.
“ámóré (ábró híló - té ódíó) / chínító dé ámól” introduces the neo-soul and the vocal play, and includes the collaboration of another poet, sociologist and activist, Paloma Chen to paint a more reflexive landscape.
“mámá hé mátádó á ún sím” is an exercise in melodic fantasy and fantastic arrangements – a song that moves into soul and R&B territory, with echoes of hyperpop, where Chenta develops another trademark exercise: recognizing themself in a digital world and deconstructing themself through it. Being ironic about that digital world that they have involuntarily grown up in, in just under two minutes. And speaking of irony, we have gotten to “pólly dé hácéndádó / lá gállíná cápónátá”, another exercise in melodic fantasy and impossible arrangements that ends up in a crazy collage with infinite sounds and effects. Audio-activism, more evident than ever. And to close, another example of the skill with vocal play, somewhere between the copla (a Spanish folk-song) and gospel: “dé dóndé víénés / ní dé áqúí ní dé állá” (where are you from / neither here nor there). And there are other gems, like: “¿De dónde, dónde, dónde vienes de verdad? / ¿De dónde son tus padres? / ¿Qué pone en tus papeles y en tu documento nacional de identidad? / … / Pues la verdad es que no soy de aquí ni soy de allá” (Where, where, where are you really from? / And where are your parents from? / What do your papers and your ID say? / … / Well, the truth is I’m from neither here nor there). Renovated styles pushing the limits, playing with affection and cynicism...
Using resources and elements like the voice of a Spanish-speaking Chinese text-to-speech generator, Chinese instruments that are glitched beyond recognition, extreme frequency processing, and a collage album cover made by Chenta with photos of Neelam Khan Vela (another important name in this project), and with the important mixing and mastering work of Ignacio Redard, PUTOCHINOMARICÓN has developed a musical language that opens up new artistic spaces. They connect with the conceptualism of pop art like no one else had ever done before, with existentialism, discrimination, and they do this using their principles of sound, not exclusively verbal. Once again, something unprecedented, an impact it will take us decades to understand, an exercise that Chenta is carrying out again and again every few weeks. In fact, in a few days we will have the second part of “SMHD”: “Pasadas De Moda”. Buckle your seatbelts.