Four Furnaces

Posted by Pete DeMola on 21. Apr 2009

"We use our music to represent these wary times," quietly remarked Lu Yan, keyboardist and vocalist for Wuhan act AV Okubo. "Last year, it seemed as if the Chinese people went mad -- people think that they're living together, but they're moving in different times and space."

Some are living in the 1970s, he said. Others reside in the 1980s and 90s. Some are in the future. "It's like our music -- it's all crashing together."

Their music is an olio of pulsating post-punk structured with wiry guitars and a synthetic electro sheen that undulates brazenly between a soundtrack to both fight and fuck to. "We're exciting, cultish, romantic and unstable," said Lu. "And angry."

The band's name is derived from the protagonist in the Hong Kong B-movie First Love: The Litter on the Breeze, directed by Eric Kot Man-Fai. "The plot is very romantic," Lu said, explaining that AV Okubo is a Japanese gangster searching for his lost porno star girlfriend.

They formed in 2006. Bassist Zuo Yi introduced guitarist Tan Chao to Lu. After going through a revolving cast of drummers, they settled on Liu Chang in 2007. "At the time, we didn't know what we were capable of until we found such a good drummer," said Lu of the 20-year-old virtuoso.

"We all like the soundtracks of the old Hong Kong movies from the 1990s," said Lu, who works for an advertising agency as his day gig, on their influences, which also include the Red Hot Chili Peppers and legendary Japanese screamo band Envy.

Last October, AV Okubo entered Beijing's A-String studios -- Asia's largest -- with renowned musician and producer Martin Atkins to record their debut. "We were really happy to work with him," the soft-spoken 25-year-old beamed. "And because he's a drummer, he really influenced me to be more powerful and precise," added Liu the Drummer.

The foursome should also be thrilled having received the endorsement from one of the country's most authoritative Western voices on the music scene: Michael Pettis, founder of independent music incubator D-22 and Maybe Mars Records, proclaimed them the best Chinese band from outside of Beijing.

Much like those wayward citizens transcending space and time, the band's style is still in flux; they aim to further develop those Hong Kong influences throughout the year. Look for their debut LP this fall on Maybe Mars Records.

AV Okubo will perform on Sat, May 2 at D-22.

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