MoShang ~ Chill Dynasty
Date: Saturday, December 02, 2006 @ 10:37:19 UTC

Artist: MoShang

CD: Chill Dynasty

Home: Taiwan

Style: World Music

Quote: "Chill Dynasty is a multi-layered, mystical, playful collection of pieces that are quietly stated yet astonishing in their complexity."

By Jennifer Layton

I always get a shiver of anticipation when I open’s post office box and find something with a postmark from outside of the United States. This one came from Taiwan. I usually distribute submissions in boxes to give to our review writers, but I held this one back for myself. I’m glad I did. I want to stay in this trippy, dreamy place for a while.

Jean Marais, code name MoShang, is a South African musician/producer living in Taiwan. This is his second album. Chill Dynasty is a multi-layered, mystical, playful collection of pieces that are quietly stated yet astonishing in their complexity.

“Nun Other,” for example, is a psychedelic groove weaving together samples of warbling human voices, lush synthesizers, energetic percussion, and dancing woodwinds, and the whole thing ends with samples of chanting Buddhist nuns. Do not think of Gregorian chants – this is definitely something different. In MoShang’s bio sheet, I read that in order to capture the chanting, he stood on a rainy street near a funeral with his recording equipment. The fact that he didn’t get electrocuted in the process tells me the gods really liked his first album.

MoShang throws everything into the mix without throwing off the overall vibe of the project. “My Last Duchess” features samples from David Byrne’s “My Fair Lady” as well as poetry by Robert Browning. He also presents a few tracks with a surprisingly contemporary jazz feel. “Smoke” is a good example. Contemporary jazz stations in the U.S. should give this a spin. MoShang also extends an invitation to hip-hop artists with “Gentle Beauty.” This cool, playful, catchy beat would be perfect for rappers to lay rhymes over.

The standout track is “Easy,” an uplifting dance tempo which features Taipei-based vocalist Sonja V. That seductively warm voice is to swoon for. Now pay attention, all indie artists: MoShang met this singer on MySpace. Let that be a lesson to those artists on MySpace filling up the bulletin board with links to goofy YouTube clips or dirty jokes. Stop wasting time and start using the site for some serious networking. Vocalists like Sonja V. are waiting out there.

What I love most about this project is the understated impact. In every single piece, MoShang brings the energy -- he just artfully, quietly turns you on instead of blasting you out of your chair. That must be what the whole “chill” concept is about. It takes skillful musicianship and the ability to hear melodic potential in all the sounds around you. MoShang has the gift. This CD is his offering. Don’t let it pass you by. Remember, the gods are on his side.

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