The story of the band known as Red Chamber spans three decades and the globe. I first heard them when I drunkenly got into a taxi in Taipei, Taiwan back in ‘96. It was 4 a.m. The pompadoured cabbie gunned the engine, went peeling through the rain-slick, neon-reflecting streets of that mad metropolis and popped a cassette into the deck.
What I heard was aural ambrosia: surf guitars and organ traded Chinese riffs over a driving backbeat of bass, drums and percussion. It was sort of like the hip instrumental “now sound” of yesteryear, but Chinese. The Mao Sound! I drunkenly exclaimed. In broken Mandarin, I proclaimed my love for this music. Impressed by my good taste, the cabbie gave me the cassette. Thus began my search for the Red Chamber.
It wasn’t easy to find. Red Chamber never achieved the success of similar Asian instrumental “A Go-Go” acts of the 60s and 70s like the Quests and the Stylers. Maybe it was their penchant for occasionally adding a nasty, psychedelic edge to the usually squeaky-clean dance party sound. Maybe it was the Chinese opera masks they insisted on wearing onstage. Maybe it was the persistent rumors that, behind those masks, the band was actually a motley collection of red-headed, banana-nosed white devils, i.e. foreigners (C.I.A. operatives, some even suggested).
Whatever the reason, the band played for hungry ghosts at Taoist temples and lecherous drunks in taxi girl bars throughout Asia until disappearing in the late 70s. Now, after being dead to the world for over twenty years, the masked men of Asian instrumental rock are back together and playing better than ever. The band has played live dates at clubs and radio stations in the U.S. and are discussing a new studio record to supplement their out-of-print back catalog. Ladies and gentlemen, enter the Red Chamber...
Mack Hagood, FarEastAudio.com