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.
Dive into China’s underground music scene with this month’s roundup. From Beijing’s mesmerizing indie electronica to Shanghai’s avant-garde beat scene, there’s something for every music fan.
Maybe it’s the bluesy sound of Instinkto Industrio, or the emotional messages of Bennu is a Heron. Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find something worth saving.
Beijing’s sourtower, the project of singer-songwriter, artist, and producer Wang Xu, offers a heady mix of psychedelic discomfort and lo-fi indie electronica.
The project’s debut album Whispers Between Us, released on Nugget Records, strikes a balance between stoicism and defiance, anxiety and comfort. With a minimalist rhythmic approach and Wang Xu’s subtle and clever vocals, sourtower’s sound paints a world that draws listeners into a complex and relatable web of emotions.
Instrumental rock group Da Seven’s long-awaited debut, Timeless, is an auditory adventure.
Taking a piano-led, underground lounge approach to math rock, the band transforms what might have been mellow jam sessions into intricate, off-kilter arrangements filled with unusual time signatures, agile musicianship, and contemporary jazz touches. Da Seven’s music engages the ear with its nuanced sound design and imaginative spins on genre.
Renowned Shanghai electronic producer Gooooose races through feverish breakbeats, high-wire IDM, atmospheric electro-jazz, and more with his explorative release, Rudiments.
Created during Shanghai’s 2022 lockdown, the album finds inspiration in everyday objects, using them as a jumping off point for each track. It’s precision-made club music with an attention to detail that ensures full immersion.
Blending krautrockian cold wave and post-punk, Beijing’s theairpaper aims to impress with their debut LP, Empty Room.
Infused with a gothic essence and synth-rich coating, this release veers away from the group’s earlier noise sound, instead leaning towards Beijing’s synth-pop landscape. The kinetic energy, crisp production, and sense of propulsion are highlighted by the music video for their single Left.
Beijing-based indie rock group Auburn continues to evolve their finely tuned alt-pop-rock sound on Mirror, Garden, Volcano, Deep Sea.
In some ways, a nod to vintage Hedgehog or Nezha, the band enriches their rustic indie rock with a psychedelic touch, while keeping their heartfelt lyricism intact. Auburn’s relaxed demeanor shines here.
Shanghai dream pop duo Running Blue, comprised of vocalist Liang Huang Gui and producer Yin Hao, explores deeper dimensions in Return.
The production is both sparse and ornate, as though submerged underwater. Atmospherically rich, with glitchy indietronica and hazy synths, Liang Huanggui’s smoky vocals anchor this fine mood piece.
The latest EP from Guangzhou band Bennu is a Heron takes emo music into the mosh pit.
A chaotic but cathartic journey of self-reflection, it explores themes of identity, home, and longing through a mix of hardcore breakdowns and contrasting vocals. Raw and forceful, this one makes an impact.
Featuring the former singer of Plastic, Bokai, and members of The Lighthouse Stranger, Instinkto Industrio fuses poetic lyrics with bluesy cabaret rock.
Their debut, set to release with Maybe Mars, draws on literary romanticism, and single The Seagull Waltz paints a yearning for constant progress.
Chongqing rockers The Pulsar, fresh from their debut Monday And Thursday, channel working-class blues punk in their live video for Yandang Mountain.
Recorded in a bustling vegetable market, it captures the energy and heat of their city, and serves as a compelling introduction to this up-and-coming band.
Unpretentious and direct, all-girl power punk band Dummy Toys makes a defiant stand on their sophomore release, War is Nightmare.
Tackling issues ranging from domestic violence to climate change, the Qingdao group has evolved into a heavier sound, mixing street punk with metal riffs and hardcore elements. The result is decisive and filled with rage — you’re going to love it.
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#Best New Music
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