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Dann Says: Round Eye Is The Bestest Band Ever

Hi Beijing! Good God, I can see the sky!? What kind of shenanigans are we been treated to? First we’re choking then we’re skipping through the hutongs marveling at the little fluffy clouds. Meh, enjoy the oxygen while it lasts. Hopefully the blue skies will keep up for the arrival of Round Eye, Shanghai’s freak-rock super heroes who are making the trip up this Friday for their latest release: genre defying, touring monsters, who’ve obliterated crowds around Asia and America, recording and touring with the late-great Steve Mackay...actually just dig the interview Angry Mike did with Chach from Round Eye on Livebeijingmusic (http://www.livebeijingmusic.com/interview-chachy-round-eye/) and I’ll regale you with more Roundeye tales as we go.

Wednesday, there be some country vibes at Jianghu with Kirk Kenney fiddlin’ the night away from 9p.m. It will also two days until Round Eye’s arrival and that also means the arrival of frontman Chachy’s hair. Actually, there is some debate about whether it is the hair that belongs to the man or the man that belongs to the hair. Chachy’s hair is like a sentient being in of itself. Legend has it can solve mathematical problems and fold space and time.

Tomorrow is Thursday and one more day until Round Eye grace our fair city. I remember one time in Shanghai after a show being in Inferno (the city’s #1 heavy metal bar and the cliche destination for all of Shanghai’s after parties it.) Chachy was a bit sleepy so he decided to take a nap. Or maybe his hair was trying to find a viable explanation for dark matter and needed some time alone. I forget. Anyway, somebody thought it would be a good idea to tip a jug of cold water over Chachy and his hair. Neither were very impressed. His hair threatened to flay the offending water pourer, like use lightning to tear his very flesh from his bones. LIGHNING. Don’t mess with magic hair children. Oh yeah, there will be all kinds of hip hop nonsense at DADA with Lucki Eck$ (USA), Bloodz Boi, Shackup, and Mean Jerk from 9p.m. Meanwhile at Modernista Dan Taylor and Heike will be playing some Christmas carols and black metal classics from 9p.m.

Friday, the blessed day of Round Eye’s arrival: they are going to putting the weird back into rock and roll at Temple with aid of local misfits Motorbike Girls, Zilu, and Noise Arcade from 9p.m. The occasion is in celebration of Round Eye’s latest release on Nasty Wizard Recordings, a split cassette with Mexican rock outfit Sierra Leon. Maximum freak sounds committed to magnetic tape, dig it. Meanwhile at School it’s punk-o-rama with some indie touches thanks to Wuhan’s Chinese Football with some help from The Eat and SNSOS from 8p.m.

Saturday, Roundeye will have left. Boo. Apparently some band called Battles from America with be playing at Yugong Yishan with Moon Duo and Re-Tros. I think it’s K-pop or something. Whatever, 9p.m. Meanwhile at DDC it’s 69‘s Magical Christmas Bonanza Extravaganza. Yes, DDC’s main man has put together a night of music that includes pretty much everyone. I mean like my cat, that Filipino guy I met on a plane once, The Harridans, everyone is going to be there. So should you.

Sunday, brush your teeth. Brush your soul. Just sort it out. If you’re down for some classic rock squeeze into a pair of faux laether pants and swagger over to Jianghu for the Beijing Doors: break on through to the otherside of the hutong toilet cubicle, maaaaan, from 9p.m. Hmm, let me see... more Round Eye banter. Well, while frontman Chachy, drummer Jimmy Jacks, and sax player Pete Jackson have been constant throughout the band’s existence they have seen a number of different faces bobbingthe bass. First there was Bob Brown who has like a sweaty little cave man who could apparently talk to fish. Then there was Spacker Dave who had an odd habit of smashing his basses up after every set and claimed more recent records from The Dandy Warhols were “really good”. I remember he got punched in the dick a lot. Currently Livio is the bass player for Round Eye and I don’t really have many anecdotes about him. Pretty much just a stand up guy who plays his instrument really well. Oh, he might be a part-time mime artist however.

Next week: Monday, nope. I wonder what Round Eye will be doing? Chachy’s hair will most likely be discovering a cure for cancer. Jimmy Jacks will be giving counseling to manic depressed squirrels in the park. Livio will be working on a killer mime routine. Pete will be working on his guinea pig art. Tuesday at DDC you can dig “Tom Waits-esque singer/guitarist” Lyenn from 9p.m. And Wednesday, nothing yet. Maybe will be can all crowd into a room and watch Round Eye practice over Skype. Pausing in between songs for Q&A of course.

“Thank you for your question. It’s actually something I get asked a lot but I do in fact use conditioner at least every other day...”

See you at Temple on Friday Beijing.


It was cool and dark inside the cathedral, the air thick with a sickly sweet smell. It reminded the cat of the stench inside of the Necropolis and it instantly made her feel uncomfortable. They passed quickly through the shadows of the columns reaching up into the darkness above, punctuated by rectangles of dim grey light cast by the impossibly long windows that ran along the walls. Heroes and martyrs immortalised in stained glass, long forgotten in them shattered realm of broken towers and mutated beasts. The cat’s hearing gradually returned as they went and she heard the scratching and the clawing of a hundred hands at the door even as they went.

The hare led the way, noticeably excited, occasionally glancing over his shoulder into the gloom to check the door had not given way. The neared the opposite end of the cathedral where a huge circular window was set high up in the wall, broken and cracked but still glowing with an ethereal luminescence that spoke nothing of the gloom outside the walls. As they came closer an altar became apparent directly beneath the window. A throne that caught the light at its edges, sending out golden rays that cut through the darkness with a memorising brilliance. The bloated, diamond encrusted belly and bulging ruby eyes of the Holy Bullfrog glistened in the shadows. The hare ran ahead and abruptly dropped from view. At first they thought he had dropped to the ground in penitence to this idol yet the pig almost fell down the steep and narrow passage that opened up in the floor without warning, a dark hole leading under the altar into the crypts below.

They carefully worked their way down the curved steps, carved by centuries of feet. The passage was dark but an ever so dim glow at the end guided them. The steps stopped and they found themselves crouching as they made their way through a low tunnel, moisture dripping and leaking from the cold stone, their footsteps echoing around them. The cat’s eyes picked out remnants of patterns and scraps of texts adorning the walls as they passed, a recurring them being a great mind beyond parallel.

The cat and the pig emerged into a chamber. The pig stretched out his back now he could stand at full height again and looked around in astonishment: a large room with a domed ceiling exquisitely decorated with coloured stones that moved in patterns and lines, all gravitating towards a single point at the centre, a galactic core to which all were drawn. Thick, ornately carved pillars ran in two rows down the space supporting the overhead masterpiece. Dozens of glowing orbs sprouting wings like those of a bat lethargically floated around the space, collectively generating a sickly glow. Yet all this was merely but a frame to the feature that dominated it all. Directly beneath the galactic core sat a unmoving whale of a being, dwarfing the three of them. It began on the cold flagstones underfoot, what might have once been feet buried under a mound of grey bone like growth, linked at joints that met joints that met joints, stacked and intertwined. The growth had gone on for some time, undirected, reaching out in different directions, spilling away from the great pedestal, burrowing into and under the flagstones. From the mass of bones the suggestion of legs were hidden under a great robe that covered its bloated mass. Above the robe what might have been a rib cage and what might have been arms protruded, long ago fused together and covered in more bone growth, a grotesque tangle on top of which sat a tall head. Hollow sunken eyes and a thin slit of a mouth that curved slightly at the edges suggesting a smile.

The hare knelt in front of the gargantuan mess, hands clasped together, muttering something under his breath. The cat and the pig approached slowly, the winged orbs gatheringthem, moving with them as they went and merging light upon them. The cat knew there and ten that the altar upstairs was merely a ruse, this was the true object of worship, this thing that was not just sheltered in this building but was its foundation. The hare turned and shot them a glance out of the corner of his eye.

“Kneel before The Maker!” he hissed.

The pig obeyed, plodded up alongside the hare and fell to his knees lazily, clasping his paws and leaning forward so that his head touched the floor. The cat walked up in line with her companions but did not kneel, remaining standing. The hare’s eyes opened wide, his clasped paws shaking uncontrollably. The cat only stared lazily at what she saw before her. The hare went to hiss something at her but was interrupted by the sound of something cracking. Maybe bone, maybe stone, maybe both. The Maker seemed to be stirring, movement coming from beneath the robe, boney outcrops extending and contracting ever so slightly. From within its sunken eye sockets a red glow grew.

“Speak wisely or prepare to surrender your flesh.”

The voice was low and emotionless, slightly metallic. It did not come from the thin line of a mouth, but seemed instead to come from all around them, drifting down from the domed ceiling. Before any of them could reply the voice came again:

“One amongst your party does not kneel in my presence...identify yourself, miscreant.”

The cat’s nostrils flared and her ears swept back slightly.

“Chacha de Whitechin!” She hissed. The hare was shaking even more, his head now buried under his paws.

“Why do you disturb my eternal slumber Whitechin?”

“We wish to ride the Bone Road to the south.”

The sound of clicks and whirring could be heard faintly.

“My sensor arrays tell me there is nothing living south of the final ring of the urban zone, so why do wish to journey in that direction?”

“I have somebody to meet in the pit.”

This answer seemed to give The Maker something to consider. For a little while he didn’t reply. His red eyes flickered and more clicks and whirs could be heard.

“Very well.” He finally responded. “My databanks tell me there is ample charge in the stores to power a bullet car within one days average walking distance of the approximate coordinates you have suggested. Simply put, power is not an issue.”

The cat narrowed her eyes.

“Then what is?”

In return The Maker’s eyes flashed slightly.

“Entertainment. The last sane subject of this sector died 1052.9 standard moon cycles before. I’ve been without cognitive stimulation for some time as a result. In exchange for passage to your destination I wish to put my relay circuits to use.”

The cat felt uneasy about the direction The Maker’s speech was traveling in. Instinct made her want to reach for the writing brush beneath her cloak but reason told her that was useless for a number of reasons.

“Do not worry, despite your lack or reverence for a processing unit such as mine I wish you no harm, at this point.”

At this point?

“All that is required is that you participate in a little game. I ask a question, you answer. The sport is in what your answer is. I have multiple predictions for what you might say and the concept of discovering which projection is correct is already providing me with something you might understand as excitement.”

Before the cat had time to ponder this proposition The Maker leaped straight into his question.

“You are walking down a straight and narrow road. Eventually it divides into two: one route leads to paradise, the other to pain and misery. The roads are unmarked and look the same. At a fork in the road you meet two identical twin brothers: one is entirely pure and will only tell you the truth; the other is totally corrupt and will tell you nothing but lies. You can only ask one question to discover which path is the one to heaven and which is the path to hell. What will you ask?”

After an instance of silence The Maker added,

“I would advise you to choose wisely but I have predicted there is a 99.8% chance you will answer incorrectly so it most likely does not matter what you say.”

The cat stood dumbstruck. She knew she should set her mind in motion and begin turning over the problem, searching for clues in the scenario set out, analyse the facts, visualise the outcome of each decision, but her mind was empty. Her whole life she had watched others solve such conundrums, others with sharper minds. She had been reminded again of the fact that her brain didn’t shine nearly as brightly as her eyes, which is why she had so often compensated for with anger and violence.

She glanced to the crouched figures to her left. The hare still had his head buried in his paws, balled up on the ground, shaking visibly. Beside him the pig still had his forehead to the ground but now the sound of snoring rumbled from him. She glanced back to The Maker, the glow from the sunken eyes pulsing ever so slightly. The thin curve of a mouth almost seemed to mock her, that for all the pomp and ceremony of her formative years a member of the Whitechin dynasty was as stupid as they came, unable to decipher even the simplest riddle. She wondered about The Maker, this idol of stone or bone, neither alive nor dead, probably containing some kind of machine brain like the Men of Iron she’d dealt with what seemed like an age ago. Just like them and all her other adversaries stone could be broken, bones shattered, metal melted. If this thing could really think then maybe it could feel fear, maybe the writing brush’s magic could find a...and there it was , the bitter reminder, that the source of her power had left her. She suddenly felt very small.

The Maker sat waiting, it’s eyes pulsing still. She guessed it would happily sit there until she were a pile of bones or until she answered. Drawing a deep breath and closing her eyes a picture emerged for a road forking into two. On either side stood two upright cats not unlike her. They were identical in every way, from their tiger striped silver fur highlighted with snow white on their chins and paws, to their breeches and waistcoats that seemed to change colour in the light. They looked upon her with tea coloured eyes. One road to paradise, one road to destruction, one would tell the truth, one would tell lies. She began to run through questions she could ask:

Is this the right way?

Is this the wrong way?

Which way would you take?

She scrunched up her face trying to concentrate, a dull pain growing inside of her head as she forced her brain to work its hardest. She knew time was passing but had no concept of how much.

"If I asked your brother what the good route is, what would he say?"

Her voice came distant, disconnected, as if these weren’t her words at all. She opened her eyes. The Maker’s eyes had flared bright red. Silence for a time.

“Why?”

The cat drew another breath.

“If you ask the truthful one he will point to the bad route because this what his lying brother would point to. If instead you ask the lying one, he will also point to the bad route, because this is not what his truthful brother would point to.”

A panel on the right hand wall of the room slid away to reveal a darkened passage way. The floating orbs rearranged themselves into a line leading to the passage way, some of them floating inside to light the way.

“The tunnel will lead you directly to the bullet terminal. Power has been restored to the tracks and this will remain in effect until you reach your destination. Leave now.”

The cat fancied she sensed a certain sullenness in the metallic voice. The hare and the pig got to their feet, not yet fully comprehending what was going on. The cat strode into the tunnel, an orb leading the way with its warm globe slightly ahead of her. Her black lips curved into a slight smile.