Cover of Cao Fang's new EP,
"Farther Than the Sky."
"You can download my music, but you can't download my life." --
In November, Cao Fang released her third offering, an EP
entitled "Farther Than the Sky." It is a collection of five simple
songs, but is sold at the unusually high price of 65 yuan
(US$8.97). At a time when the record industry is being undermined
by illegal file-sharing on the Internet, Cao Fang has made a point
- she wants to share her musical life, and since that's something
"undownloadable," she has packed it into a new CD.
For years, Cao Fang has been making headway as a fixture in
China's indie music scene. Her second album, "Encounter Me," was
released in 2005 and went on to sell over 100,000 copies, a strong
sales showing for an indie musician. However, Cao Fang chose to
release her latest EP under her own young label. Its strident indie
sound has kept the EP out of mainstream record stores, and because
there are no rules for indie albums to comply with, this seemingly
idly-made EP is destined to be alternately satisfying and
It is disappointing to new fans, who might easily overlook the
EP based on its price; even those who reluctantly purchased the
album are likely to be frustrated by its incompletion - one of the
songs has no lyrics, and all of the songs lack complexity.
But for longtime fans, "Farther Than the Sky" is a satisfying
reward. A rich package, it contains not only a CD, but also a
poster, two photographs, and a 40-page diary which chronicles the
development of the EP. By reenacting her days of making music, Cao
Fang paints a vivid portrait of herself that is very different from
the nonchalant girl in her previous albums. She shows a girl who
loves music, and even more, the life that accompanies music.
"Farther Than the Sky" details a life of independence,
unorthodoxy, aggression and dignity.
And that is what Cao Fang's life is all about.
(CRI January 24, 2008)