New Music: Chongqing City Pop, Chengdu Fusion Rock, and Bouncy Shanghai Electronica

April brings new releases from veterans like Mamer, CHILLGOGOG, and iimmune, along with newcomers including Tengguang Agency and Steve Rocks

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4:57 PM HKT, Fri April 26, 2024 4 mins read

This month’s new releases mostly strike a positive — or at least high energy — tone as we gear up for summer and festival season. From CHILLGOGOG’s bouncy house and broken beat and The Upside Down’s Chongqing city pop, to Riot in School’s fuzz fests and Jade Breaking Plan for Liberty’s complex fusion of rock subgenres, artists are either inviting us to have fun, or having a ball themselves while tackling some more earnest sounds. But there are exceptions: check out avant folk master Mamer’s intense acoustic guitar album and moody ambient-leaning electronics from Noooodle King — Editor.

Jade Breaking Plan For Liberty 唯利玉碎计划 – The Sun-Quenching Chronicle 淬日纪事

Chengdu’s Jade Breaking Plan for Liberty go for broke on their sophomore LP The Sun-Quenching Chronicle, a sprawling, carnivalesque swirl of grunge, metal, hardcore, jazz, prog, and blues rock that dedicates itself to the “shadows, sacrifices, and dust in the era of madness.” Crafted together with manic literary glee and anarchic irreverence, it’s guitar rock that happily goes off the deep end, injecting a restless spirit of experimentation and fusion that threatens to collapse in on itself on every track. And while there are times when there are simply too many spinning plates, it’s all tied together with a palpable anger that pairs well with its hefty and whiplash-inducing instrumentation.

Noooodle King – Meia Lua à Beira Mar

Taking inspiration from the glow and pull of the moon and sea, as well as the bodily and spiritual dexterity of capoeira, Beijing electronic producer Noooodle King sets the stage for his lushly detailed and thematic debut Meia Lua à Beira Mar, released with Eating Music. An exploration of oneself through various mediums, guises, and moments, it’s a narratively-charged meditation that traverses multiple genres and frameworks, even going as far as to include Kaixiang’s soft-spoken vocals. With an ambient road trip one moment, a spiritual freakout the next, there’s a metaphysical texture to Nooooodle King’s journey that’s both deeply honest and boundless in its musical sensibilities. This is a soundtrack to one’s most intimate feelings. Spellbinding.

iimmune – 虚构集

Beijing-based electronic producer iimmune — one of the best in his field — returns with his latest reverie, the aptly-titled 虚构集 (Fantasy Collection). A master of structure, scale, and finding ways to craft electronica that’s dizzyingly visionary, instrumentally lush, and busting at the seams with detail, Xing Jiangbo (who is also one of the creative forces behind the post rock band Glow Curve) uses each track as his sandbox, swaying seamlessly between art rock, electronica, ambient music, and jazz as he composes flushed, flourishing, and fantastical freeways between states of consciousness, reality, and the imaginary.

Riot in School 返校日 – Those time we wasted on each other

The latest from Riot in School is essentially a preemptive B-side album, stemming from the tattered remains for their yet-to-be-released sophomore album. Entitled Those time we wasted on each other, the four-track release finds the Chengdu alt rock band — known for their grungy gaze-filled noise rock — in fine form, burning brightly as they skip along the edge of their predecessors, savoring the fuzz and buzz of their sound, and tapping into something more elemental as they process the world around them. It’s a riot, one that has us eagerly awaiting the band’s follow-up album.

Sparrow 文雀 – Certain 某

With sixteen years under their belt, Beijing post rock outfit Sparrow have put in the work, slowly building their fan base and expanding their sound. Never going for the jugular, Sparrow have always brought a delicate, almost modest touch to their music, and their latest EP Certain is no different. Four tracks of finely crafted post rock that unfurls at its own pace and is never showy, it’s an easy release to cozy up to, one that immerses you slowly in its poetic tapestry.

The Upside Down 完美倒立 – Bubble Night 夜色碳酸

Chongqing’s The Upside Down continue their descent into disco-laced urban pop on their latest LP, Bubble Night, all but abandoning their more guitar-heavy dream pop roots. It’s a neon-smear synth pop affair, one that aims to capture the magnitude of emotions that a single night (or bubble) can contain. While its soft touch doesn’t always work out to their benefit, it certainly makes things go down smooth, akin to a glass of crisp bubbly.

Demonslaught 666 – Endless Witchcraft

One of the metal scene’s thrashiest, most gnarly and invigorating acts out there, Zhengzhou-based Demonslaught 666 lay it all down on their new LP Endless Witchcraft, released with Beijing label Awakening Records and the UK’s Vicious Witch Records. Blackened speed metal that evokes everyone from Hellripper to Sodom, their sound comes charging at you like a freight train, with hooks that grip you, demonic vocals, and crisp and lean production (courtesy of renowned German audio engineer Marco Brinkmann’s mixing and mastering job). Glorious.

Tengguang Agency 腾光事务所 – D.L.C

Tengguang Agency is the latest outfit to inject math rock theatrics and emo rock sensibilities into the bedrock of instrumental rock. The young Suzhou band, which features former members of spry emo rock outfit autumngo 秋日疾走, hits that adolescent sweet spot — equal parts vulnerable and nimble — giving their EP D.L.C a clear-eyed intensity that will surely stir up some emotions. It may not reach the high-wire heights of its predecessors, but it’s a heck of a debut and one that has me eagerly awaiting what comes next.


88rising electronic producer and musician Steve Rocks, also known as the rocker and vocalist behind synth pop outfit Brides Crisis 新娘危机, brings his love for 70s/80s Asian pop and vintage rock and roll to mad life on his latest single “I CAN BE YOUR FRANKENSTEIN.” Presented as a “sadomasochistic love story full of conquest, compromise and submission,” the music video is a cheerful pop art concoction, evoking something you might have come across on MTV in the mid-80s.

CHILLGOGOG – Revisit: That White Building

CHILLGOGOG, the Shanghai-based duo of life partners and label heads LATENINE6 and FunkeeCookee (the forces behind Delivery Music and Eating Music), head back to their sumptuous 2023 release That White Building. They’ve recruited Shanghai producers Sdewdent and Knopha to remix two of that album’s tracks, in the process “activating the hidden colors” within. If that wasn’t enough, the duo have also included two freshly baked tracks full of their signature bubbly and kinetic vitality, which will surely find their way into the hands of other producers down the road.

Mamer 马木尔 – Uyⱪesez / Sleepless 无眠

The ever-prolific Xinjiang Kazakh musical savant Mamer, whose thrumming voice and engulfing layers of instrumentation have engulfed audiences for years, is back with his latest release with Old Heaven Books: Uyⱪesez/Sleepless, an improvised session on acoustic guitar. The recording’s aesthetic may have one reaching for old-fashioned terms like “Oriental,” but there is something wholly one-of-a-kind in Mamer’s deconstruction and reappropriation of traditional Han and Central Asian music. He breathes new life in age-old traditions and techniques, whilst injecting his own intrepid spirit into the strings.

Banner image by Haedi Yue.

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