China's artist Ai Weiwei to release heavy metal album

Ai Weiwei Ai Weiwei says he became interested in music during his detention in 2011

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Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has announced plans to release a debut album influenced by heavy metal music.

The recording will have nine tracks, some of which the artist describes as "more punkish" and some as "more pop".

Known for his sculptures and installations, he said he became interested in music during his 81 days in detention without charge in 2011.

After he was released, he was accused of tax evasion and the authorities imposed 15m yuan ($2.4m; £1.6m) fine.

Ai, 55, says the charges are politically motivated.

'Expressing opinion'

"When I was arrested, they (guards) would often ask me to sing songs, but because I wasn't familiar with music, I was embarrassed," Ai Weiwei was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"All I could sing was Chinese People's Liberation Army songs.

"After that I thought: when I'm out, I'd like to do something related to music," he said.

The album is entitled Divina Commedia after Dante's famous poem. This is also a reference to "Ai God" nickname given to him by his supporters.

Ai said he wrote the lyrics and would also debut as a singer. The music is the work of rocker Zuoxiao Zuzhou - Ai's friend.

But Ai stressed his foray into music did not mean that he was moving away from art.

"I think it's all the same. My art is about expressing opinion and communication."

He said he was already working on a second album.

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