Cruel Buddhist’s New EP ‘Sonder’ Comes With Cool Coloring Book

It seems apt that the Shanghai-based artist has created a coloring book to accompany his new, relaxing EP. After all, adult coloring books are said to effectively lower stress

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terra wang
11:39 AM HKT, Tue November 1, 2022 1 mins read

On October 25, Shanghai-based musician and producer Henry Robinson (aka Cruel Buddhist) released his latest EP, Sonder, via Eating Music. Along with a nine-page coloring book hand-drawn by the artist, the seven-track release provides just the right vibe for chilling out.

The title of the new EP comes from The New York Times bestseller John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. According to the book’s description, it contains “made-up words for emotions that we all feel but don’t have the words to express.”

As Robinson explains on Bandcamp, the word ‘sonder’ refers to “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background.”

While the artist is usually more spontaneous in his music-making process, Sonder required extreme attention to detail, especially while re-recording and re-tooling the instruments.

Robinson also created a coloring book to accompany his new EP, which totally vibes with Sonder’s overall sound. Adult coloring books, which became the dark horse of the publishing industry in 2015, reportedly lower stress.

A nine-page coloring book of images hand drawn by Cruel Buddist is together released with his new EP Sonder.

A nine-page coloring book hand-drawn by Cruel Buddhist

“This thoughtless state of wonder is what I value most in life and hope to stumble upon in my music. Using handcrafted synth tones and a broken toy keyboard, field recordings, and wonky drums, I hope some of this music can pleasantly paralyze your consciousness for a bit and allow you to drift without its weight for a few moments,” expressed the artist.

Robinson’s music is infused with lofi, chillhop, funk, vaporwave, and R&B-influenced beats. On the Chinese streaming platform Netease Cloud Music, he reveals that he incorporates live looping and improvisation into his sets using a sampler, synthesizer, and vocoder.

By incorporating a variety of sights and sounds — from the morning sky to the sunset, and forest streams to birdsong — in his recordings and live performances, Robinson provides a different way of experiencing life unfiltered and in immense detail. The aim, it seems, is to offer his listeners a fresh breeze and an escape from their daily struggles.

Hailing from Wisconsin, U.S., Robinson moved to Shanghai in 2016.

“At dusk in Shanghai, thousands of apartment lights shine like stars; each a sun with an orbiting cast of lives,” said the artist, who began work on his EP while mulling over the meaning of the word ‘sonder’ during the lockdown in 2020.

“Beneath the surface of meaninglessness in the feeling of sonder is a freedom that comes from being a background character in someone else’s life. If nothing that you do really matters, then what’s stopping us from trying to do exactly what we want, no matter how silly or ambitious?”

And if you are looking for more from Cruel Buddhist: Earlier this year, Robinson dropped a 15-track mixtape titled Lockdown Loops, which documented his daily improvisations while confined to his apartment during Shanghai’s two-month lockdown.

All images courtesy of Eating Music

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