New Music, formerly Yin (音, “music”), is a monthly RADII column that looks at fresh Chinese music spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. This month, we introduce you to new music from Jackson Wang, Masiwei, Bloodz Boi, and more!
March has been a hell of a month in Shanghai. Covid-19 has surged once again in the city, and residents here have been in and out of lockdown over the past couple of weeks, with a staggered citywide lockdown currently in place.
With that being said, we sorely need some new Chinese music to get through this, and, fortunately, we’ve had some heavy-hitting releases this month. On the poppier end of the spectrum, Jackson Wang dropped a new album, and Masiwei is prepping to release his own new album, with the first song “SNTS” dropping this month.
In more experimental circles, Xi’an band Fazi dropped an excellent new album and an accompanying experimental film. At the same time, Beijing musician Bloodz Boi teamed with Swedish experimental music duo Quit Life for an eight-track release.
While it hasn’t been a great month for stemming the spread of Covid, it certainly has been a fantastic time for music.
As always, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of SoundCheck, where Wes Chen, host of hip hop podcast thePark, and Bryan Grogan talk about their favorite tracks of the month.
Trans-Aeon Express came about after the pair provided music and sound design for an exhibition put on by Weirdcore, a designer who creates visuals for the likes of Aphex Twin. The seven-track release contains many sampled elements and feels much more ambient than what we generally hear from the pair.
Perhaps best known as one of the founders of Hangzhou club collective FunctionLab, and for his burnished, metallic mask, Guan has been somewhat quiet for a while now. Therefore, the return of his dystopian soundscapes on his new album, The Immortal Tide, is highly welcome.
“Digital PO-P,” the lead track on The Immortal Tide, sees Guan team up with rapper G94 and includes lines like “Everything that surrounds you — digital” — a straightforward line with a terrifying and dystopian delivery.
The third release in Eating Music‘s “…with Friends” series, Drifting with Friends, brings together a diverse array of producers that perhaps no other label could, including Chinese-American producer Kai Luen, Xiamen ambient house producer Knopha, and Shanghai-based dark electronica producer Laughing Ears.
The record drops today, March 31, although a pre-listen mix was available for streaming from March 16 to 30.
Chengdu dream pop band Deep Water return in 2022 with their self-titled album. The band are inspired by the likes of Mazzy Star and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and those inspirations certainly show throughout this new offering.
Released with Ruby Eyes Records, there are plenty of spring vibes here, as the wonderful atmospherics at play on the record recall a breezy, sunny city afternoon. You can find the 11-track album on Spotify now.
It’s been three years since the Higher Brothers have released an album, and the four members of the group have all pretty much become stars in their own right, and perhaps none have achieved as much success as Masiwei, who is one of the cover boys for modern Chinese hip hop.
Following on from Dark Horse in 2021, Masiwei is getting ready to release Humble Swag, his latest album, with “SNTS” the lead single. The music video sees Masiwei with a new blonde hairdo, sporting a Pharrell hat, and playing mahjong at different points.
Fen, an abbreviation for Far East Network, comprises four musicians from Japan, South Korea, China, and Singapore, and includes beloved and pioneering Chinese experimental musician Yan Jun.
This five-track release was recorded while the group was touring and is a live recording from Nijo Castle in Japan in 2017. Full of unexpected and sudden bursts of sound, the improvisation on “What if it is what it is” leads into the solemnity of “What if we are in a world without ‘W'” beautifully.
Beijing musician Bloodz Boi first linked up with Swedish duo Quit Life back in 2019, resulting in the song “Mist,” which was included on Swedish record label YEAR0001’s RIFT One compilation (which also included the likes of Palmistry, Mechatok, and Bladee).
365 sees Bloodz Boi team with the pair for an eight-track album that is pretty damn beautiful from start to finish. Basically, think soft auto-tuned vocals laid over the late-’90s heavenly trance of Gouryella.
Xi’an band Fazi have been rocking for quite a while now, and their music, which resides somewhere around the post-punk spectrum, has gradually moved towards more experimental elements over the years.
The album is accompanied by a 45-minute experimental film made in collaboration with Space Circle Music and directed by Jin Shien (Shen Siyuan), who is also a photographer. It was shot in Gansu and Qinghai provinces and shows two main characters moving through a rustic small-town and in wilder, mountainous regions.
Since his band GOT7 left JYP Entertainment, Jackson Wang has been a busy man. He’s mainly focused on his solo endeavors, dropping his single “LMLY” last year, forming the group Panthepack under his Team Wang label, and focusing on Team Wang Design.
Lost & Found is his first solo album since 2019’s Mirrors, and there are some powerful standout tracks on the record, such as “I Don’t Have It,” which sees the singer reveal his vulnerabilities over majestic saxophones.
Meanwhile, other tracks miss the mark, like “Power,” which feels contrived and empty.
Rui Ho has cemented herself as one of the most exciting electronic musicians in China over the past few years, with releases like Lov3 & L1ght, while also becoming ingrained in Shanghai’s fashion scene.
Tension opens with “Right Now,” which is ostensibly a response to the track of the same name on Lov3 & L1ght. It is also a more danceable song, according to the artist. Overall, Tension feels poppier than what we’ve heard from Rui before, which should open her up to more performance spaces and possibilities.
Cover image designed by Haedi Yue
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