New Music is a monthly RADII column that looks at new Chinese music spanning hip hop, folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Below, we introduce you to new offerings from Tragic Prescription, New Pants, Pale Air, and more!
Summer is just over the horizon, with the season’s official June 21 starting date quickly approaching. While you update your wardrobe with some lighter layers, don’t forget to refresh your playlist as well! To help you kick off the summer with some fresh tunes, RADII has handpicked 11 of the best new music releases from April. From indie rock to electronic beats, there’s something for everyone.
Formerly known as Vladimirs, The Lygort Trio — a trio (quartet in live form) composed of the sneakingly named Lipsky, Schwecevic, and Yang Titov — is essentially an offshoot of Yang Haisong’s post-punk outfit PK14. Or an evolution. Or a reboot. It’s hard to say where the line is drawn, but Lygort returns in many ways to that seminal band’s Fugazi roots, with Haisong’s poetic pose as rich and stirring as ever and its instrumental edges sharper and more grounded.
There’s a visceral pull to the arrangements at hand; it’s scrappier, looser, keenly observant, yet cryptic at the same time — the kind of art rock that feels full-blooded and dangerous.
Lumi (刘敏), best known as the bassist, keyboardist, and singer of pioneering rock outfit Re-TROS, goes solo on A Day without Time. Following in the band’s more experimental tendencies, the release finds Lumi exploring new sonic avenues, honing in on something more melodic yet at the same time oozing with an atmosphere we can only describe as crystalized — vibrant, compact, yet delicate to the touch.
With muffled drum beats, sharp synths lines, and an imaginative collage-like sense of sampling, it’s essentially Re-TROS dialed all the way back — and that ain’t a bad thing.
Evocative indie rock via one of China’s most popular shorelines, Sanya, Tragic Prescription digs deep on their debut LP Betel Nut Avalokitesvara (槟榔观音). Socially conscious with a layer of Buddhist angst, the band follows in the footsteps of acts like No Party for Caodong, Miserable Faith, and of course, Omnipotent Youth Society.
Tragic Prescription’s members effectively dial into the anxieties of life on the fringes of society and infuse their lyrics with both harsh realities and Buddhist mantras that shift between light and dark. It’s a fitting pair that, more often than not, justifies its sometimes overwrought musicality.
In many ways, Echo sees Shao maneuvering between his two halves: the no-frills minimalist techno junkie who haunts warehouse raves across the country and the more ambient-leaning sound explorer looking for peace of mind amongst the sonic static.
While conceptional, Echo doesn’t have the oomph his releases from last year have had, although it is by far his most accessible release — a perfect introduction to the juggernaut producer’s aesthetic (including a supple live recording of his Tresor-ready jam Reflection). It’s at its best when it lets its meditative lens slip into its more kinetic numbers, adding depth and resonance to the dance floor.
Krautrock psychedelic rockers Run Run Run find credence in the retro sound of their parents’ youth on their new EP with Spacefruity Records. Gone on the winding twists and freewheeling guitar dissonance, the band, led by Xiao Dou, taps in the old school folksy Cantopop sound — one you’d catch on the radio on a humid night in a third-tier city down in South China’s Guangxi province.
It’s quite a turn for the band and one that genuinely transports listeners back to a simpler time.
New Pants have been around just about forever. The seminal indie rockers, Modern Sky’s flagship band, have been making music for well over 20 years. Though the musical environment around them has drastically changed, they’ve still got it, even as they’ve become more nostalgic and sentimental over time.
That notion is ever present in the band’s new EP, which finds the band reflecting on the anxiety of modern culture, including their place in it. For better or worse, this is New Pants at their pop-punk finest. While the variety over its tight four tracks may be lacking, there’s no denying their undiluted melodic charge.
Chengdu-based producer Wu Zhuoling, known for her ambient-laced soundscapes and multi-layered dance rhythms, journeys into the post-apocalyptic future on her latest EP, Uncharted. Lush in its details, her new release conjures an atmosphere that’s both delicate and taut. It’s the closest that the prolific producer has come to soundtracking a film.
Flowing and ebbing with wide-eyed wonder whilst swelling with an emotional, ethereal undercurrent, it’s a cerebral cosmic gem whose exploratory nature might move you in more ways than one.
Shanghai’s Eating Music, one of the electronic scene’s most exciting labels, steps into its sixth year with its latest compilation, Running with Friends. As you might guess, the album is appropriately centered around the theme of ‘running’ in all its implications.
It showcases a wide array of producers and artists who forge their own ways of rousing your heartbeat, getting those brain waves darting, or simply accompanying you as you escape from worlds both physical and mental.
The compilation is the perfect antidote to a stagnant 2022 and one of the best treats a runner could ask for. The stacked roster is checkered with friends old and new and features vii M, zou, Voision Xi, Cocoonics, Kool Kline, CHILLGOGOG, Sdewdent, and Illimitato.
Shanghai shoegaze act Pale Air comes out guns, ahem reverbs, a-blazing on their impassioned debut Manifesto On Ice. Deftly delicate one minute and unbridledly turbulent the next, there’s a depth to the young band’s music that’s easy to plunge into as walls of sound and distorted vocals slowly engulf you.
This is shoegaze not afraid of getting lost in the weeds and is all the better for it: Whether it’s the psychedelic veneer of ‘Death Valley’ or the second-half purging of ‘Breathe In,’ the album throws you into the deep end. As the famous poet Jorge Luis Borges once eloquently stated, “They have found a way to shape the chaos of dreams into shape.”
Hangzhou’s Cos of Youngs, the indie act with a penchant for allowing deeper themes to soak into their cozy walls of sound and wispy vocals, return with a new EP (their first since 2019) titled The Source of Nothingness.
Touching upon the meaning of existence in regards to society and within oneself, particularly in regards to Albert Camus’ Le Vent à Djémila, it’s dense and painfully relevant for the band’s sound, which see-saws from sweeping dream pop ballads to spry breezy surf pop within its three tracks. Come for the pop tunes, stay for the existentialism.
Cover image via Depositphotos
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