Review: 飛行器的執行週期,郭頂

郭頂 Guo Ding is a singer / songwriter who remains rather elusive, having released only three albums since 2005. Starting out in more light-hearted, mainstream tunes, his sound has hardened and matured immensely over the decade. When he released 飛行器的執行週期 The Silent Star Stone, it seemed like he had made a clean break with his old sound in favour of something with more gravitas, sombre and reflective. But oh, the poetry.

這瞬眼的光景 最親密的距離 the scene of light this instant, the closest distance 
沿著你皮膚紋理 走過曲折手臂 follow the fall of wrinkle on your skin, the wind of your arm
做個夢給你 做個夢給你 dream a dream for you, I dream a dream for you

等到看你銀色滿際 until you have silvered all over
等到分不清季節更替 until the seasons are indecipherable
才敢說沉溺 then i will admit i have submerged

His first single 【水星記 Mercury Records】 is by far the most well known of the album, and is a stunning, lyrical exploration of loneliness. Written as a meditation on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, yet forever oscillating at a fixed distance from it, Guo Ding pulls the silence of a planet in the galaxy into his sound, and holds a mirror up to our own lives, following paths at fixed distances from each other.

每個眼神都隻身荒野

在 每個眼神都隻身荒野那瞬間 in the moment where every gaze is a solitary wilderness
你和我面對面 如此地安慰 you and i, face to face, is comforting
如果我能發現 if i could discover
動情的靈魂終將在前夜告別  a restless soul would say goodbye yesterday
我也不願停下 僅有時間 i would also not want to stop time remaining
讓我忘了我是誰 and forget who i am

It’s really difficult to find the entirety of Guo Ding’s discography available, as it’s pretty localized to the Asian region, and mainland streaming sites. I had to be back in Asia to be able to buy his album. In some ways, it’s telling that Guo Ding is not interested in an international audience, but also, it’s a bit sad that such a talented artist isn’t widely listened to, even within Asia. I’ve embedded a few tracks I haven’t been able to find on Youtube, so you can get a better sampling of 飛行器的執行週期 The Silent Star Stone.

什麼聲音 正在迴響 what noise is this, currently echoing
什麼溫度 還在我肩膀 what warmth is this, on my shoulder
什麼嘴巴 來不及講 what mouth, too late to speak
什麼時候把你留在這深巷 when did i leave you in this deep alleyway

Guo Ding employs a desaturated palette in whatever visuals were released with the album. But that desaturated feeling perpetuates his lyrical offerings as well. The voice often speaks in monologue surrounded by echo, white noice, and dissonance to create distance and isolation around the singing. I would place him in the evolving urban folk tradition – a hard edge to Tanya Chua’s softer yearning.

想著你

這不是 情書啊 this is not a love song
我從來沒有這麼擔心 i have never been so worried
可是啊 我願意 but i guess, i am willing 
這樣下去 to go on like this

我不想 讓自己 i don’t want to allow myself
變成一個矯情的傻子 to become a sentimental fool
可是啊 我已經 but i guess, i already 
是了 am

想著有一天我們 終究會面對分離 thinking one day we will still have to part
想著有一天我們 會在老地方相遇 thinking one day we will meet again at the old place

What draws me back to Guo Ding again and again is his honesty. Sometimes, accompanied by a single guitar. I’m not sure what the last decade brought through his life, but in his words, I feel the strong pulse of days past full of stories. As a listener, these are the songs that bring me back again and again.

The song that led me to Guo Ding was 【淒美地 The Fog Space】, nominated in 2016 for the Golden Melody’s Best Lyrics and Best Composer categories. It was a love at first sound moment, hearing the opening verse to this song: a piano note ringing deep, reminiscent of a foghorn, as the words come piercing through darkness.

曾經我是不安河水 i once was a restless river
穿過森林誤入你心 flowing aimlessly through the woods by chance into your heart
沒計劃紮營擱下了是非 with no plans to stay, severed from my burdens
一去不回 to go and not return
如今我是造夢的人吶 today i am a creator of dreams 
悵然若失流連忘返啊 disappointed and lingering 
等潮汐來臨我就能記起 when the tide comes i might be able to remember
你的樣子 your appearance