Saturday, July 31, 2021

Ancient Charm: Masterpieces of the Chinese Gu Qin

 Various Artists

Ancient Charm: Masterpieces of the Chinese Gu Qin

My first cognizant exposure to the gu qin was on the Murmurs of Earth compilation. It's a collection that put together all the songs featured on Carl Sagan's golden record that was sent out with the Voyager and I was hipped to it after Third Man put out the "A Glorious Dawn" single.

The track "Flowing Streams" performed by Kuan P'ing-hu from that comp just hit me HARD. Would stick in my head for days, the seemingly arbitrary timing of the muted, plucky strings just so evocatively beautiful that I'm feeling almost short of breath trying to describe it now over ten years later.

On a recent revisit to "Flowing Streams" I'd finally had the urge to explore that realm further. While not being able to read the language is a huge disadvantage, I was able to find one recently manufactured listing on Discogs. 

I was hesitant plopping down the dough for the one copy still listed there. Fretted over it for months. Then two weeks ago while see-sawing as to whether or not I should pull the Discogs trigger, I thought it'd be worthwhile to check and see if any copies were listed on eBay.

Sure enough, Buy-It-Now for $40 less than the Discogs price and I was sold. The best part is, within 60 seconds of, I found a $100 bill on the ground...a cosmic affirmation that I was traipsing down the right path.

The LP is wonderful, much more than the spa background noise that I imagine folks chalk it up to be. Really, really interesting sounds, masterfully performed and charmed by subtlety. Just wish I read Mandarin (Cantonese?) so I could understand more of it.

I can't tell if this is explicitly streaming on any DSPs, so I'm just sharing "Flowing Streams" here and if inspired you've got the motivation now to explore further.