Aloe Records

A small matter to tell you about

Author: Sun Yizhou

English Translation: Zhang Cai

Proofread: Rania Ho

I shall start from the recent past.

Shit happened in 2022—quite a lot, in Beijing in particular. Each morning you and I woke up petrified, drawn into some fucked-up incident through social media, insulted by someone for some matter that was by then sealed, closed and inaccessible. Incomprehensible at first, we erupted into a fury; in the end, all we could do was sit and complain. Despite all matters, what’s closely related to this article is the current situation of Chinese musicians, with fewer gigs than in previous years and sporadic patches of cancelled tours around the country. Music venues are facing closure, or switching their operations to find alternative ways to stay afloat.

I asked myself, where will my friends and I be able to perform next? If nowhere, then what can I do instead? So I started making recordings, solo projects and collaborations. During this period, probably one April morning, somewhere between those walls where I was locked in at home, I thought, well, then why not start a new label from scratch! It is something I have been thinking about for a long time, but never really made up my mind to do, because it would mean dedicating a part of my life to it, consuming a lot of time and money—having to make contact with people, getting samples from manufacturers and all sorts of tasks. More crucially, it is about thinking about why the label exists, and the long-term plan… But out of practical urgency: it’s time.

With help from my friend Li Yakun as graphic designer, Bian Xingchi building the website and Zhang Cai translating… we slowly made preparations one after another, adjusting little by little; our work has become a daily habit. There’s one small announcement I would like to make now.

It’s called Aloe Record.The official website/WeChat official account will be updated from time to time and some articles will be tweeted or translated. All digital/physical albums will be available for listening and purchasing on Bandcamp. Please find us on the links below and subscribe:

Official Website:




I want it to be a mini-label that is neither too eye-catching nor expressive, yet sharp and powerful. As the idea crossed my mind, I subconsciously touched the edge of an aloe vera on my balcony (I have plenty at home. My parents keep them). Ha! Might as well call it aloe! (a plant that grows in subtropics and tropics, with long-pointed leaves, spiny edges, and thick, juicy interior. Kept in many Chinese homes for ornamental and herbal medicine use.)

And the music: the music may not sound very music-like. Let go of the term. However, if we must apply a certain coherence to it, it may have something to do with the underground Beijing scene, which has influenced me since 2018 pre-Covid, as an audience member, and as a participant.  For me, these sounds pulled me back to the first time I heard Song of the Youths (Gesang der Jünglinge). After all, an independent label run by a musician is to some extent an unavoidable autobiography of the individual, a condensed passion for what he loves. Aloe’s genealogy can partially be traced back to The New York School, Fluxes, noise music, electronic acoustic… But a larger part also comes from improvised music from 2000 onwards (improvised music post rock and jazz), EAI, Onkyo, Echtzeitmusik, Eclecticism, Compositions based on Improvisation, as well as conceptual music and sound works, unclassifiable non-music, etc… These classifications as such have nothing to do with nostalgia, and an aloe would just keep growing anyway. I would prefer to have Aloe’s reach able to withstand more radical or obscure sound practices, to pick its way out of the chaos, and find a kind of consistency that comes from deep within.

Aloe Records is currently self-run and will remain so. Publications are not medium-restricted, and will include DIY sections. Dedicated to make various connections with others, between different people, societies and lives. I expect it to grow gradually into an expanded international network for contemporary musicians and sound artists, conceptual artists, media artists and performance artists…a goal which is of course far, far away at the moment.

The first publication will be Alo(n)e series, Aloe Records’ solo project release for musicians or long-term musical groups—mainly some invited friends. The series will be released on a total of six cassettes, in limited copies of 50 each. I asked the designer to keep it simple, restrained, minimal, and as plain and non-redundant as possible. Even though it might not sell, it has to be a physical album, the kind you can hold in your hand and touch, that’s the bottom line.

Alone-001 & 002 will be out via our Bandcamp on 10th December 2022.

001# Four Lines and Improvisationis a new album by Beijing’s musician and label organizer Zhu Wenbo, which is 32’41’’ in total length. With new notes written for his ‘composition based on improvisations’, he recorded ‘Four Lines’ in August 2022 on which ‘Improvisation’ is based on. Both tracks showcase a distinctively lo-fi nature to the sound.

002# It Works is a new cassette release by Beijing-based musician/poet Yan Jun, and consists of one live improvisation and two takes of performance recordings composed by Ryoko Akama. The album has a simple block structure, great dynamics with great noise, and also perhaps a little mystery to it.

Four Lines and Improvisation&It Works will be available for pre-order on Bandcamp on December 2nd. Officially released on December 10th.

Stay tuned. Thanks!

Sun Yizhou

9th Nov 2022