Rice & Love
When the musicians of The Hohak Band plant rice in the organic farms of Taitung, Taiwan, food for the soul springs forth with a mixture of diverse elements. Music, frangance, soil, plants, body, and labor combine in a way that is both organic and creative. The musical elements of this album include folk, bossa nova, mountain songs of the Hakka people, and traditional songs of the Amis tribe to present the beauty of LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and a love of the land. "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to it's culture." Thomas Jefferson, who improved the quality and advanced the production of rice in America, in the late 18th Century. The cultivation of rice in Taiwan has a history reaching back over thousand years. The Taiwanese people have been deeply influenced by rice, which permeates the entire culture. Traditionally, rice has been more than merely food: it still speaks to us, as a symbol of an age-old world of practical beauty. At the end of 2006, Chen Guan-yu, the lead vocalist of The Hohak Band, had a chance meeting with a friend in the rice fields of Taitung, in Eastern Taiwan. He began to plant rice in the organic farms there, focusing on the special considerations relevant to organic rice production, including transplanting, weeding, compost fertilizing, and harvesting. For Chen, rice planting became a full-body experience: his feet tenderly touched the softness of the soil; his hands channeled an innate wisdom of farming; and his ears perceived the unmistakable song of the rice. During this period of fertile creativity in his own musical writing, Chen invited friends, including movie directors, photographers, folk singers and musicians to experience the natural setting in Taitung, and to share their respective artistic and creative talents. They discovered ways to treat the soil considerately, to respect all living things and to care for the Earth. Their love for rice and the earth has come to fruition in their musical works. Their rural lives and fresh music offer those in the bustling modern cities a paradise characterized by an easy-going and deliberate lifestyle.