But is managing director and guiding light, Henry Kwok, happy with the way it has turned out? ''When you consider that Dick [Lee, Kwok's partner] and I started it just as a way to import unusual music, it hasn't done badly,'' he said. ''It began as a small operation from Dick's house, importing records by people like Tuxedo Moon and Steven Brown - stuff you really couldn't get hold of here. ''We were frustrated that in such communication-oriented times you couldn't get any alternative records in the territory. Surprisingly, we got really good support from record outlets like Recital and Monitor and this kept us going until we struck a deal to become sole agent for 4AD and Crammed Discs.'' This deal, giving The Sound Factory exclusive rights to big- time artists like The Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil and John Lurie, took financial pressure off the organisation and led Mr Kwok to a more active role in the Hong Kong music scene. ''At the beginning of 1992, just after the 4AD and Crammed deal was done, Dick and I decided that only importing foreign music didn't do enough for Hong Kong's home-grown talent. We decided to expand and go into releasing our own material.'' The first result was the Xper.Xr album Voluptuous Musick, released as a limited edition 500 CD pressing which sold well in Hong Kong and abroad despite being extremely experimental. ''We were really pleased with that album's success, so we decided to go ahead with a compilation of all of Hong Kong's experimental bands.'' Despite high hopes, the result, Ma-li-ma-li-hung (featuring local luminaries such as AMK, Huh!?, Martyr, Multiplex and Tats Lau), fared poorly at the few record shops that would take it. But The Sound Factory's next CD offering was to prove a success. At about the time Ma-li-ma-li-hung was failing to sell, Japanese alternative musician Otomo Yoshihide was in Hong Kong and buying the Xper.Xr album. He fell in love with it. ''I rang him and proposed we do a CD together,'' Mr Kwok said. ''He was really happy to accept, having heard the Xper.Xr recording and because it was very hard for Japanese alternative bands to get record deals.'' The album, We Insist, sold well in Japan and did some business in Europe, Hong Kong and the United States. As The Sound Factory approaches its fifth year, Mr Kwok has turned his attention to China in an attempt to nurture new talent. His intention is to organise a Hong Kong-China alternative music festival in Beijing, but his search for mainland Chinese bandsplaying challenging, innovative music has been fruitless. ''There is a worrying trend among young Chinese musicians,'' he said. ''All they are doing is copying the music and style of bands like Led Zeppelin. You have young Chinese kids singing like Robert Plant, for goodness sake. ''It's all imitation; none of it is about invention. This I can sort of understand, given how little exposure they have to Western music, but their motivation is wrong too,'' he said. ''It's not about making music for them, it's about making money. They want to use music to get rich quick, not to create something artistic.'' He believes he will eventually succeed with a Beijing festival, but has some more immediate targets. ''We've got a new album from Dancing Stone about to be released, a blend of flutes, guitars, keyboards and vocal gymnastics. We've got more CD releases in the pipeline, and will be organising more festivals and importing and exporting more music. ''There's an interest in alternative music out there, and we're going to make sure people stay supplied.''