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30 minutes on earth

by Zhu Wenbo

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This is a simple project. I invited a few musician friends to choose an open space outdoors (wherever they liked) in which they would play some things and record them. A duration of 30 minutes. I specifically didn’t want to say what they might do or how they might do it. Each person received the same instructions, just a few words. After collecting all of the recordings, I would take the material, layer the tracks together into a single recording, and produce a cassette.

The piece is called 30 minutes on earth. Even though the name sounds a little too grandiose, it doesn’t really matter as far as I’m concerned. The idea for this project came to me one day while I was riding my bike, it took about 30 minutes to think through.

I thought of a few musicians who might be interested in this piece, they all lived in different parts of the world. Although among them were some very close friends, most were people where we’ve only met each other a few times at performances, however even at the first meeting it felt like seeing an old friend: maybe I had arranged a concert for them or they had arranged a concert for me; or I was just an audience member who saw their performance; or I missed the performance but we chatted and had some food together after the show… I mention these examples to emphasize that I have met them in person, it’s an important aspect.

I sent out the invitations and everybody readily accepted. After this there was a long wait. I know you can’t really say a month is a ‘long wait’, it’s just that I originally thought that this would be a very short piece that could recorded in a half an afternoon. But in fact maybe things aren’t so straightforward. There can always be some unforeseen event: monsoon season, a bushfire, it might be blowing a gale… or something unexpected in day to day life. Everybody’s busy with their jobs and their own projects.

In January 2019 I received the last recording, and I started mixing. In fact I finished it in an afternoon. The only thing I did was balance the audio levels of the different tracks as well as cut the beginnings and/or the endings of a few tracks which were longer than 30 minutes. I took four of the musicians’ recordings and mixed them into one track, and the other four into the other track. Each piece became one side of the cassette.

I’ll just write a bit about the environments where the eight musicians did their recordings. Li Song was in a park in Xi’an; Zhu Songjie was by the side of Shanghai’s Huangpu River; Yoko Ikeda was in park in Tokyo; Fangyi Liu was at a pier in Kaohsiung; Kevin Corcoran was in the Californian wilderness somewhere near the Pacific Ocean; Paolo Gàiba Riva was on a bridge in a city in Vietnam (I found the location by looking up coordinates that he sent me, at that time he was on a tour of South East Asia); Andrew Fedorovitch might have been in the backyard of his place in Sydney, he didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask; only Montreal’s Craig Pedersen made his recording inside: winter in Canada is freezing and no one wants to stay out in the cold for long!

I can’t express clearly why I wanted to do this project. Although there’s no doubt that I’m interested in outdoor performance, perhaps this network of musicians can be mentioned again. They are all excellent musicians, but apart from this they are all active organizers and participants in their local communities. I would like that our connections together can deepen (as well as connections to the places I have been, or haven’t been to yet), or at the very least that the participants can be introduced to each other a little. I also hope that they, together with Liu Lu, John Wilton, Hiroyuki Ura (who have also participated in this project) can also think about it in this way.

Lastly, concerning this recording, some other friends have been asked to write something more about it, however this is for yet another project.






可以写一写这八位乐手的录音环境。李松是在西安的一个公园里;朱松杰是在上海的黄浦江边;池田陽子是在东京的一个公园;劉芳一是在高雄的码头;Kevin Corcoran 是在加州的一片荒野,临近太平洋的一个地方;Paolo Gàiba Riva 是在越南一个城市中心的桥上,我通过他发我的经纬度找到了这里,他那时正在东南亚巡演;Andrew Fedorovitch 可能是在他悉尼家的后院,他没有告诉我,我也没问;只有蒙特利尔的 Craig Pedersen 是在房间录的,加拿大的冬天实在太冷了,没有人会想去户外待着。




released April 27, 2020

Music by Zhu Wenbo
Realized by Andrew Fedorovitch, Craig Pedersen, Fangyi Liu, Kevin Corcoran, Li Song, Paolo Gàiba Riva, Yoko Ikeda, Zhu Songjie

Andrew Fedorovitch - alto saxophone
Craig Pedersen - trumpet
Kevin Corcoran - cymbal
Paolo Gàiba Riva - clarinet mouthpiece
Yoko Ikeda - viola
Zhu Songjie - radio
Fangyi Liu - musical saw
Li Song - computer

Text by Zhu Wenbo
English translation by John Wilton
Mastered by Hiroyuki Ura
Design by Liu Lu




Zoomin' Night Beijing, China

Zoomin' Night
燥眠夜 is a cassette label based in Beijing, run by Zhu Wenbo since 2015.


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