10 Hot New Music Releases to Amp up Your April

From Shi Xinwenyue to Hualun, these 10 new Chinese music releases are here to help you power through the unpredictable spring weather

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11:10 AM HKT, Tue April 4, 2023 4 mins read

New Music is a monthly RADII column that looks at new Chinese music spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. This month, we introduce you to new offerings from Hualun, Endless White, Shi Xinwenyue, and more!

Spring is a time for renewal, growth, and new beginnings. Despite the unpredictable weather, this is a season that’s full of hope. But if you do not feel that energy, these 10 new Chinese music releases might be able to put you in the right mood.

1. Sleep Leaps (碎梦飞跃) — 你不想被困在这里 (You Don’t Want to Be Stuck Here)

One of the most exciting acts to hit the scene in some time, Sleep Leaps is the latest addition to Chengdu’s robust dream pop scene — following acts like Sinkers and Sound & Fury with a jangle-filled and melodically charged sound that’s spry, wistful, and charming as all hell.

Reverb-soaked, nostalgia-tingling, and anchored by its lead’s starry-eyes vocals and robust instrumentation, their take on young adulthood feels both lived-in and sincere, basking in the afterglow of adolescence with one eye on the road ahead.

2. EndlessWhite (白百) — Changeless (世界是拉不直的问号)

The Xi’an shoegaze quartet Endless White, who revels in jangly guitar work, wispy vocals, and sublime walls of sound, haven’t so much revamped their sound as shook free of the genre’s shackles. The band’s latest effort is as confident as it is ambitious, a dream pop opus that pushes their sound into the exciting new electro-pop territory while pushing Zhang Wanyi’s vocals to the forefront.

From the potent synth pop pleasures of ‘Falling in a Vaccum’ to the almost gothic industrial buzz of ‘Hush’ — the band sounds larger than ever, swimming in the more propulsive aspects of ’80s electronica amongst its heavier shoegaze aesthetics.

Giant swings like this usually don’t work, but for Endless White, the possibilities are endless.

3. Mofei (莫非乐队) — Timestamp

Established post-rock veterans out of Shanghai, Mofei returns with their latest, Timestamp, which intends to chronicle the bewildering, frustrating, and powerful moments over the past seven years. Grounded, raw, and sincere above all else, Mofei finds solace in both the rollicking peaks and the soothing valleys of the genre.

While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking on display here, there’s an undeniable gusto and humanity within their lengthy compositions, eliciting emotions from listeners as they “fight against life with the only weapon they have — music.”

4. thruoutin — Ghost Lineage

Beijing-based electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist thruoutin — known for his dizzying and woozy “weaving of experimental and club music, with nods to ambient, gqom, field recordings, and drone” — returns with his latest effort Ghost Lineage. Released with New Noise, this new installment is patient, more delicate, and moodier than his previous efforts.

thruoutin’s latest has a trance-like pull to its sonic world. Dewy in its textures and oozing with globe-trotting atmospheric asides as its slowed-down BPMs take over, those global aesthetics are further enhanced with the help of some top-notch musicians, including JustSyd (vocals), He Kairan (bawu, kaval, kanjira, and mouth harp) and Dong Yang (frame drum), creating a hazy and fluid transnational sound.

5. gogoj (盛洁) — Review

The ever-prolific Sheng Jie (aka gogoj) — known for her layered, intricate, and exploratory string-based drones — delivered a sober and stark reminder of the last few years in China with her latest Review, released with U.K. imprint DustyBallz.

Ditching her more cerebral approach to sounds and composition, Sheng Jie tackles the “emotional exhaustion” of our recent past with acute psychological and memoir-esque detachment, melding together field recordings of the mundanely abrasive with sparse, almost afflicted instrumentations of guitar, cello, and an analog synthesizer.

Sometimes beguiling, sometimes distressing, Review is a fascinating artifact from a time we won’t soon forget.

6. Baoerjin (宝尔金) — Ra ash (太阳灰)

Seasoned producer and sound artist Baoerjin, whose long history of collaborations and compositions has made him one of Shanghai’s most prolific performers, puts his multi-disciplinary talents to use on his debut Ra ash, released with Trans MiB.

Hitting that sweet spot between experimental exploration and open-bodied romanticism, the soundscapes spread out across the album are richly dense and pictorial, organic to the senses, and full of imaginative zest.

Baoerjin’s keen perception extends to how he brings in an assortment of musical mercenaries, from Aming to Zhang Meng, seamlessly adding to the expansive sonic wonders at hand.

7. Lost Memory Machine — Vanilla Sky

Melancholic yet bursting with a vibrantly lit and dreamy aesthetic, the latest from the Beijing duo Lost Memory Machine, Vanilla Sky, is a deftly crafted electro-indie pop album.

Consisting of David Carey (of Nocturnes) and singer-songwriter Soli Ling, their sound is a delicately weaved tapestry of electronica, slick yet ethereal guitar chords, and airy vocals that sway alongside its inviting and serene rhythms.

A lucid audial daydream, Lost Memory Machine has a weightless quality to it — one that’s easy to get swept up in.

8. Return to Sender — Quartet

A hefty offering of emotionally fraught core music, Shanghai’s Return to Sender come out swinging on their latest LP Quartet.

Hoping to “unlock the knot in your heart and help you move through the turbid current,” the post-hardcore band taps into the muscular and tender aspects of core music with whiplash-inducing flair, injecting their sound with shades of post-rock, R&B, emo pop, and then some.

One moment you’re taken aback by the effective use of auto-tune, and the next, you’re being tossed up against the wall by razor-sharp guitar riffs and guttural screams. It might just touch a chord.

9. Hualun (花伦) — Scorch Off towards the Utopia

Post-rock veterans turned ambient soundscapers, Hualun, based initially out of Wuhan, have been quite prolific over the past few years, releasing new material with various labels across the globe as well as soundtracking high-profile films and documentaries, including An Elephant Sitting Still (大象席地而坐, 2018) and Love in the Buff (春娇与志明, 2012).

Their latest offering, Tempus, will drop at the end of the month with BiE Records. Their first single, ‘Scorch Off towards the Utopia,’ gets an appropriate trip MV courtesy of Huang Yihong, utilizing A.I. to trigger ‘secondary synthesis’ and superimpose images and animals over live action shots, making the video disorienting, beautiful, and exploratory much like the band’s shape-shifting sound.

10. Xinwenyue Shi (施鑫文月) — Hustler Wang, A Li Li (王跑跑,阿里里)

Rapper and singer-songwriter Xinwenyue Shi muses on the seemingly laid-back yet innovative hustler lifestyle of Chengdu on his latest track ‘Hustler Wang, A Li Li’ — a supple piece of breezy hip hop that’s equally smooth and tender.

The rising bilingual rapper, who hails from Chengdu but was educated in America, brings and celebrates both the cultural hotbed that is Chengdu while mirroring the star’s upbringing.

Coupled with the artist’s astutely observational humor, and a sly fusion of synthesizers and vinyl sampling, the song puts Xinwenyue Shi on the map alongside hip hop figures like J-Fever and P08.

Cover image via Zhuohan Shao

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