For just one day this coming June, by the waters up north in Amsterdam, the typically tranquil grounds of the Noorderlicht will come to life once more as Strange Sounds From Beyond enters its second run. Earlier last month, we kicked off the first round of line-up announcements as a pre-taster for what’s to come this summer. Since then, we’ve been working hard to complete the line-up for SSFB 2017 and we believe we have arrived at a sweet spot.
Before you read any further, I’d like you to first play one of Pan Daijing’s track called “Disease”. Chances are that you’re going to feel unsettled after. This, however, isn’t a bland attempt to get you to listen to some of the darker sounds along the techno spectrum, but a genuine endeavor to get you acquainted with an intriguing newcomer to the techno scene. As the new girl on the block, Pan Daijing happily shakes up the predominantly male techno producer’s world with her vividly dark and self-proclaimed sexual music, a by-product of her feminist worldview.
To understand Pan’s music you’d have to learn something about her upbringing and her background. Brought up in China by a conservative family, Pan grew up constantly having to prove to her family that she was just as good as a boy. Even though she had managed to top her class, giving her the freedom to apply to any university she wanted, it still wasn’t good enough for her father. He did not approve of her elected major and unbeknownst to her, he changed it to accounting. Still trying to make her parents proud, Pan followed the path chosen for her by her dad.
It was during this period that Pan became aware that even though she was just as smart as any guy around her, society continued to view her, and all women, as a sex symbol. In an attempt to liberate herself from this realization and as a way to escape her parents’ clutches Pan looked for exchange programs abroad.
During a brief visit to Berlin, before heading over to the States for her study, Pan found her new passion: producing music. After a couple of years of trying out different studies in the States, she decided to move to Berlin to create music. Once a top student, she was now a school dropout with music as her new meaning in life.
What you are about to listening to is the product of Pan’s life story. Through track names like “Female”, “Sex” and “Disease”, live art performances containing sexual acts and her own line of sex toys, Pan cuts loose all ties with her conservative background and shows the world that women are just as liberated as men. Like the names of the tracks and its political connotations, Pan Daijing’s music is loud and powerful. One can only hope that Pan’s line of sex toys isn’t as lurid as her music.
“Disease” immediately grabs your attention. The chanting women in the background and the dark yet somehow warm bass that intensifies as it slowly speeds up, give the track a horror movie vibe. While the track gets more sinister with each beat, it hypnotizes you. It reaches its climax with a 911 call by a woman in distress, somehow fitting with the rest of the sounds. The ancient Asian sounds of the chanting women with the gong blend seamlessly with the modern sounds of a phone call and the deep, rich and dark bass.
“Last Seven Minutes” is a roller coaster of sounds and emotions. The first part feels as though it’s is leaning toward a more typical techno track, but this quickly changes as voices from the background begin to creep up that’d make you wonder if they are imaginary or indeed coming out of your speakers. The sudden loud whoosh is terrifying and a powerful reminder of what music can do to your mood.
“Overdose” is one of Pan’s more minimalistic tracks. Whereas the previous track has a very distinct beat it’s very hard to define this piece despite the multiple layers. It appears to be building up to something as the minutes pass and the music gets louder, but in the end you’re left with nothing.
“Sex” is definitely the most challenging of the lot. It’s distorting, dark and impossible to dance to, but still it’s one hell of a track. It’s fascinating how the pulsating and vibrant bass slowly transforms into macabre white noises. Halfway through, it shifts from being just a dark techno track to what appears to be just random, almost unpleasant sounds. It really is just like sex; starting out with a clear-cut path but somewhere along the way it all turns into a dirty hot mess.
Its name might suggest otherwise, but “A Season in Hell” is by far the most danceable and “uplifting” track here. Its threatening beginning may not sound promising, but it is soon followed by a marching beat and rhythmic sounds. The hihat – a tool seldom used by Pan – and the almost acid sounds make you want head to a dark, overheated club to forget about your daily struggles. If this track resembles a season in hell, I want to stay there for the rest of my life.