First Watch: Chui Wan, 'The Sound Of Wilderness' The Chinese psych band breathes in every sound to exhale a dazzling collage. The group members go through the minutiae of the everyday to reach enlightenment in a beautifully shot video.

Chui Wan, 'The Sound Of Wilderness'


In Zhuangzi's Qi Wu Lun, the Daoist philosopher writes, "When the wind blows, every sound may be heard therein." Beijing's Chui Wan takes its name from that text — and similarly breathes in every sound to exhale a dazzling collage.

The band's roots are in psychedelic fuzz, but on its self-titled second album, the rhythms are far more complex and playful, like a Broadcast record inspired by Chinese folk songs and The Velvet Underground. "The Sound Of Wilderness" is a bubbly song with whirring synths, gliding Sufi guitar melodies and counterpoint rhythms that have no business dancing so sweetly, moving as one.

In this video, director Zhang Jinglei beautifully shoots Chui Wan's members going through the minutiae of the everyday to reach enlightenment. He writes:

When I first got this song and listened on the street, its 30-seconds-long high-frequency prelude just sounds like enlightenment to me. I felt my view was slowly taken over by pure white color. People are trudging, moving like black dots.

I asked the band about this song. Yan Yulong told me he got the inspiration from Tomas Transtromer's poem "From March 1979." I found there is "snow" in the poem ("I make my way to the snow-covered island"). So it just hit my "pure white" feeling and idea. Then I expanded the story on each band member's characteristic. Four common people with different careers (tailor, cook, railman and security) receive the enlightenment from the wilderness by different senses (touch, taste, hearing and vision). They look for the clue by the ways they are good at. However, they not only draw a blank, but also suffer ("Every expectation cannot locate its position").

Where is the way out? So I turned back to the beginning of the poem — "Sick of those who come with words, words but no language" — then realized that individual words without combination have no connection or power. The four finally understood it. They exchanged and combined their feelings, kept going. What is the enlightenment in the end, and if they can find it, is not important.

Chui Wan is out now on Maybe Mars.