FAZI are a post-punk band based in the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an. However, there is much more to their story than meets the eye… With five immersive full-length records and a brief stint on peak-time commercial TV already establishing the four-piece at the forefront of a truly pionee- ring wave of alternative music in China, the Euro- pean re-release of their latest offering, ‘Folding Story’, represents an incredible new beginning for a band who have already spent years honing their craft – transforming timeless traditions of love, life and death into a perpetual dance of fre- netic, krautrock energy and sprawling, shoegaze panoramas.
Fittingly, ‘Folding Story’ is itself a cyclic experience of rebirth, renewal and a return to origin. Al- bum opener ‘Invisible Water’ is a contemplative start as frontman Peng Liu’s yearning vocals reach out across synthesisers reminiscent of sonar and the hypnotic lapping of water on an un- known shore. Described by Peng as an “artistic conception of amniotic fluid in the mother’s body”, this motif returns at the end of the album’s final track, ‘Way to Atman’, this time as a gentle tide washing away the ash of a spent funeral pyre. Just as the album and its protagonist is born at the beginning and dies at the end, by deliberately opening and closing ‘Folding Story’ with the sounds of water, Fazi invite listeners to flow through the record on a never ending loop, to listen to a story without pause, one that rises from a whisper to a roar only to subside as quickly as it arrived.
When considered reflexively like this, ‘Folding Story’ becomes a living record of the band’s in- credible array of experiences and lessons learned, just as much as it represents a new chapter in their creative lives. Peng, alongside guitarist Cheng Ma, bassist Jiaxuan Li and drummer Boyang Li decamped to the Northeast Chinese port city of Dalian, famous for its breathtaking coastline and delicious seafood, to be close to their watery source of inspiration whilst recor- ding and to reflect on the eventful journey that led them there.
Having started out as a band called ‘The Fuzz’ in 2010, the four-piece released their debut re- cord ‘Running Horse’ in 2013 before honing their Cold Wave-inspired post-punk sound and re- surfacing as Fazi on 2018’s full length, ‘Dead Sea’. Finding themselves at the forefront of a thriving alternative music movement that was spreading across China, Fazi released the dri- ving ‘Invisible Water EP’ and announced their controversial decision to take part in the 2020 edition of hit TV show The Big Band, which saw the band square up against other rising rock acts to break into mainstream market success. Whilst risking being labelled sell-outs by long-ti- me fans and musical contemporaries alike, Fazi are adamant that the show hasn’t changed them and that, in fact, they’re still relishing the opportunity to ruffle some feathers and shine a national spotlight on their ever-growing scene.
The philosophical and existential themes at the heart of ‘Folding Story’ may well come as a surprise to fair-weather fans and cynics turned off by Fazi’s newfound commercial fame, but the sheer power, raw emotion and creative innovation within this latest album quickly silence any questions of the band’s authenticity and integrity. Although birth, life and death will always be heavy topics to take on, it is the universality behind them that inspired Fazi to write an al- bum that is, in one way or another, accessible to everyone.
First released in 2022 on pioneering Chinese record label Space Circle, ‘Folding Story’ is a col- lection of 10 tracks that serve as stories themselves as well as part of a universal narrative in constant flow. A phenomenal accomplishment, its forthcoming re-release in Europe via Pelagic Records will ensure that Fazi continue to blow as many minds and ruffle as many feathers as possible.