Beats for Peeps na RADAR #39 (02/01/2022)


Selection made by Mabu Li.

This is a selection of recent (in the past 5 years) outputs from the small free jazz/improv/avant-garde scene in mainland China, these 7 tracks are selected because they shine at their improvisational moments in different ways. Only six musicians, in fact, are behind these works: Lao Dan on saxophone (track 1, 3, 5 & 7), Guzheng (track 5) and Chinese flute (track 3), Deng Boyu on drums, Mamer on dombra (track 2) and electric bass (track 6), Li Daiguo on pipa, Li Jianhong on electric guitar, and Li Xing on electric guitar.

Mabu Li runs the cassette label Dusty Ballz, which releases works of underground musicians in the Chinese scene. He is from China and currently based in London, teaching while doing research on music, subculture, and informality.


1. TuTu Duo (Lao Dan & Deng Boyu) – The Prophecy 预言 (from TuTu Duo – 智斗, NoBusiness Records 2021)

2. Mamer – Dombra Improv 1 (from IZ – Drop by Old Heaven Books 路过旧天堂书店, Old Heaven Books 2021)

3. BBB & BBB (Lao Dan & Li Daiguo) – Part 3 曲三 (from BBB & BBB 奔波儿灞与灞波儿奔 – Hu Nian An Yu 互念暗语, Old Heaven Books 2020)

4. Li Jianhong – Earth Fire 地火 (from Li Jianhong 李剑鸿 – Like Alive, Right Now 此刻,如同活人, Badhead 2016)

5. Lao Dan – Goose-no-eat Herb 鹅不食草 (from Lao Dan 老丹 – Chinese Medicine 草乙术, Dusty Ballz 2020)

6. Mamer & Deng Boyu – A Rhyme of Black Water 黑水谣 (from Mamer 马木尔 & Deng Boyu 邓博宇 – Universal 万有, Self-released 2017)

7. Red Scarf (Lao Dan & Deng Boyu & Li Xing) – Shanghai Rats 海上耗子 (from Red Scarf 红领巾 – They Know We Know They’re Lying 他们知道我们知道他们在撒谎, Badhead, 2018)