There is Afrobeat, and there is Asiabeat.
Batik house, Kobe jazz, Mongolian punk, Bombay house, Mat rock, Pinoy funk, J pop, Korean hip hop, Thai dub, Khmer funk, Gila punk, Taiwan rock, Hokkien rap, Beijing rock, Shanghai techno, Hong Kong house, Canto punk, Cantonese blues, Enka mambo, Singapore garage, Indo surf jazz, Taipei electro, Viet rockabilly…
Asia has seen develop from the Sixties vibrant music scenes, original talents, rich modern traditions, and large followings by already three entire generations : Kobe jazz, Japanese rock, Thai rock, Khmer blues, Taiwan rock, Hokkien enka, Shanghai jazz, Cantonese blues, Enka mambo, Vietnamese rockabilly…
However most of the original talents are absent from local charts, media and mainstream awareness, apart from punctual commercial endorsements. The only household names are major label artists, some very good, most untalented, and all forced to record commercial mush, heavily inspired from Western pop.
Hence even local talents are desperate, finding little artistic challenge or support from media and the public. They are often the first ones to denigrate the quality of the local scene.
As a result the majority of the local elite and media still hold their local talents in contempt, preferring songs in English or celebrity pop.
Today Asia counts such original music movements as Mongolian punk, with its Tuva rock counterpart, Bombay house, Mat rock from Malaysia, Pinoy hip hop from the Philippines, J-pop, Korean hip hop, Thai dub, Taiwan rock, Hokkien rap, Beijing rock, Shanghai techno, Hong Kong house, Canto punk, Singapore garage, Indonesian surf jazz, Taipei electro…
In the West, noone knows much about Asian music, apart from the recent Banghra fad, or Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku recuperation. Conventional wisdom both in the East and West still holds Asia for a backward continent too busy working to produce any interesting popular culture outside of lower-tier copycats of the West. Such a perception belongs to the Sixties, it is a generation late. However, they appreciate the tourism, food, movies, exotic homeware, contemporary art, fashion folklore and low-cost manufacturing.
So far only Indian and Middle Eastern compilations manage to cross over into the mainstream, while Chinese, Japanese and Korean cinema has already established worldwide cult followings from art house publics to trend adopters.
And yet Asia has a plethora of true original artists who would open up many ears from the West to the East, to a rich, modern cultural life, beyond the restrictive clichés of the exotic folklore or easy-listening background music favoured in themed events, restaurants and spas.
Minimal electro pop, new wave and 80’s techno pop.
新裤子 New Pants, China
Soul rock diva, ska dub electronica.
"ริค วชิรปิลันธ์ ราสมาลัย Russian Roulette"
超级市场 Supermarket, China
Rollercoaster, South Korea
Acid jazz, soul, pop rock, house music.
Siam Dub Monster / The Photo Sticker Machine, Thailand
Trip dub / trip hop / acid jazz.
Color Lab, Thailand
Art funk groove.
My Little Airport, Hong Kong
"Z too A"
Funk, rock, jazz, blues.
Legendary Mongolian rock band with Yat-Kha zither and Kanzat throat-singing by Albert Kuvezin, runner-up or BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2006.
木马 Muma, China
Dynamite Club, Japan
The self-described Attention Deficit Disorder rock band (surf, country, jazz, math, punk rock, video game, reggae, metal, funk) in New York City.
"New York Kung Fu Society"
Alcohol-fueled hardcore rock
About Pop, Thailand
Electro / acoustic pop
Sakana (Pocopen & Nishiwaki), Japan
The “Circlesong” album launched very successfully at Paris’s Café de la Danse in October 2005. Aaken’s cover of Björk’s “Army of Me” was featured on a double cd album by UNICEF, released in February 2005.
"Mot Ngay Nhu Moi Ngay"
Nick Daddy Liang & DJ SL, Taiwan
Soul electro rock, funk house.
They have worked with Little Creatures, Fantastic Plastic Machine, and have contributed to “Ska Stock”, a tribute to the Skatalites.
Check here soon for an Asiabeats compilation by Kampong Beats.