“Noise is an expression of optimism” says Huang Hsuan (黃軒), guitarist, vocalist, and main creative force behind Blush—a three-piece experimental rock band based in Pingtung. I would go further by saying that noise is also a space that opens up unlimited possibilities for artistic expression. In fact, this is the reason why it can produce feelings of optimism for artists.
In Blush’s case, noise takes the form of a sweet wave of swirling, shimmering, distorted guitar melodies together with a powerful rhythm section overlaying simple songs about life’s most immediate experiences, which include not only the joyful but also the morbid and painful.
The secret side of me
Hiding in the dark
Every time I think of you
It hurts like looking at the sun
While similarities with bands like My Bloody Valentine are noticeable, and Huang readily admits to the influence, he balks at the ‘shoegaze’ label, saying it was never a term that My Bloody Valentine and bands of their ilk applied to themselves. (Somewhat facetiously, he classifies Blush as a ‘cutie-pop’ band.) More to the point, however, shoegaze is probably too broad and vague a label to meaningfully describe Blush’s sound.
When pressed, Huang describes Blush as a noise/experimental band. Of course, this is also a broad term that could mean many things, but Blush are many things. In addition to My Bloody Valentine, Huang claims inspiration from artists as diverse as grunge pioneers Nirvana, avant-garde American composer Steve Reich, Taiwanese pop star Deserts Chang (張懸), and experimental soundscape artists Prairie WWWW (落差草原). The result is a captivating aural experience that demands attention.
Blush is the third band Huang has put together, the previous two being Dismiss and Mon Cheri. The different names reflect not just line-up changes, but new materials and a progression in style from ambient to noise.
To fully appreciate the Blush project, you do need to see them perform live. Audiences of live shows are treated to a kaleidoscopic multi-sensory experience though the videos of collaborator Chiang Chun-Yi’s (江俊毅) assemblage of floating, sliding, pulsating images that have been created specifically for Blush’s music. Check out some examples of Huang Hsuan and Chiang Chun-Yi’s earlier work together here and here.
Despite the extremes Blush sometimes go to in terms of maximising the sensory impact of their shows, stripped back from all the noise and the psychedelic visuals, the core of Blush’s music—Huang’s honest songs about love, sex, and death—remains.
Fishy snow with pretty mini spirit
When you woke up in something cruel
Flowers are still alive
(from ‘Daisy（Gross Love)’, a song about latent pedophilia, inspired by a scene in Lars von Trier’s 2013 film, Nymphomaniac. Hear the entire song here.)
Even if you don’t understand the songs, Huang says that you will definitely be left with a strong impression.
The Blush line-up consists of:
Huang Hsuan (黃軒): guitar, lead vocal
Gao Da-Ren (高達仁, aka Silver): drums
Huang Lin-Rong (黃琳蓉, aka 皮球): bass
- 10/28 at Rocks, Kaohsiung (opening for ethereal post punk band from New Zealand, Wax Chattels)
- 11/12 at Little Play, Taichung
- 11/25 at APA mini, Taipei
- 12/02 at Breed, Kaohsiung
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