For the past five years, Shanghai band Absolute Purity have been electrifying audiences in livehouses across the city with their unique blend of punk, psychedelia and electronic music. But until this month, they had never released an album. In fact, until recently, the band’s Netease music page only showed two tracks, both of which were remixes of the band’s songs released in 2018.
Prior to forming Absolute Purity, Wen Jun, the group’s lead vocalist, was known for her band Guai Li. The previous group holds some cult status among indie-rock circles for its only album, Flight of Illusion, which was released about 12 years ago on seminal Beijing label Maybe Mars. Its own musical history intersects with a variety of excellent bands, such as AV Okubo and Ourself Beside Me, among others.
After leaving Beijing and the band disbanding, Wen started looking for people to play with in Shanghai, which turned out to be easier said than done.
“Everyone wanted to be a DJ, and then I couldn’t find anyone to join a band. I couldn’t find a suitable person to rehearse and play in a band with me.
At that time, Wen would go to livehouses to watch bands and find herself excited about the music she heard. She inevitably met different musicians at these concerts, but for the first six years she lived in Shanghai, she couldn’t find anyone to form a band.
Finally, she met Zhang Yuan, the original drummer of Absolute Purity. She also contacted Tang Ting, the band’s guitarist, whom she already knew. However, the sound wasn’t quite right, and so Zhang Yuan helped find a bassist, Xu Yichen. As the band’s sound developed, they eventually changed drummers and Huang Zhiwei joined the band. So, we have the Absolute Purity range as it stands today.
Explaining his thought behind composing the band, Wen says, “Of course, I can’t play an instrument and I can’t make music with a computer, so I always needed those things with a group.”
She also looks for musicians who have different tastes, who bring some conflict to the songwriting process. “I like to finally think about that conflict in the music, which helps me think about the lyrics, and our songs will be done with a little bit of that style and a little bit of that style. That’s how we prefer proceed. “
This variety of interests is very apparent on We fought for the moonthe band’s first full album, released on Ruby Eyes Records on March 8.
You can see it in cultural touchpoints, as the group explores things like detective fiction – a very modern interest, as well as the longest-serving monarch of all time, Louis XIV. You can also hear it in the music, as the band mixes synthesizers, psychedelia, krautrock bits and a distinct sense of dystopian post-punk.
The process of creating this album began in early 2020. At that time, seven of the 10 songs on the album had already been written and performed live by the band. They completed these seven titles with three new songs written from scratch.
“When we felt we had enough songs and were ready to record, we discussed the producer issue,” Wen tells us. “It was like forming a band again, wanting everyone to have different ideas that collide. So I was also hoping to find a producer who could bring their own creativity and join us as a producer recreating the original song. .
The band eventually teamed up with Australian producer Angus Andrew, who is also the frontman and only regular member of experimental rock band Liars. They connected through Hua Dong, the guitarist and vocalist of Chinese band Re-TROS, for whom Andrew had directed a music video for their track “Sounds for Celebration”.
The deal to work with Andrew was made before the pandemic finally put a damper on the work. The band had to delay recording for around a year, and as travel restrictions remained in place, they found their own recording engineer and began recording and communicating with Andrew via email.
The whole process took more than two years.
Despite this, Wen says Andrew’s presence makes it feel like they’ve added a fifth member to the group.
“He was fun, Angus is just a fun guy, and he was really excited and said he felt like he was playing with us too. He didn’t even care about our original songs,” she tells us. This meant that our band seemed to have one more person.During our rehearsals, we changed the color and structure of many songs.
After spending so much time recording We fought for the moon, the band began planning a tour. However, they soon realized that they only had 10 songs to perform, totaling around 40 minutes. As such, they desperately started writing new songs to perform for the tour. These songs apparently did well.
Next thing for Absolute Purity, then? Although they don’t confirm it, the band hints at the possibility of releasing a new EP after the tour.
Cover image courtesy of Absolute Purity