New Music, from Qinghai Post Rock to Shanghai Avant Electronics

This month’s new releases from 33EMYBW, Tation, GriffO, Guzz, and more

2 0
12:00 PM HKT, Wed November 22, 2023 4 mins read

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.

This month sees a couple of comebacks as well as newer artists moving from strength to strength. Guangzhou’s No Parking are garage rock veterans finally releasing their debut album, while Shanghai’s Laughing Ears, one of the city’s most talented electronic producers, is returning to music after a brief hiatus. Prog seems to be in the air with new releases by Mimik Banka and GriffO, while 33EMYBW’s Holes of Sinian already qualifies as one of the most intriguing albums of the year.

YouCeHeLiu 右侧合流 – Cosmic Kindergarten 宇宙幼儿园

Math rock seeped in a vat of bubblegum flavored indie pop, emo rock, future pop, and more — Guangdong’s YouCeHeLiu are one of the more distinctive acts to come out of China’s indie scene. Their debut Cosmic Kindergarten dares to capture that lightning-in-a-bottle magnetism. As their bombastic electro pop corkscrews into antsy emo punk anthems, there’s not much to keep you grounded except for the band’s deft math rock chops. But therein lies the pleasure of YouCeHeLiu’s highly imaginative, fantastical world. It’s akin to scarfing a handful of jellybeans: not every flavor will hit but you won’t want to come down from the sugar high.

A Wordless Orange 沉默橙 – 梦游小憩

Known for its punk bands and urban grit, Wuhan is the last place one might expect these slinky grooves to emerge from, but A Wordless Orange’s debut is chock-full of them — capturing the furnace city with apt sensibility and feverish vitality. Exquisitely designed with a psychedelic veneer that always keeps your ears on edge, the lushly flushed sound is almost too comfortable with itself at times — slinking into a humid puddle of tranquility. Fret not though, because those rhythms will have you coming back. The album is a natural high that blends soul, jazz, shoegaze, and psychedelic music into an intoxicating concoction.

Tation 天聲 – Illusions Of The New Era

Qinghai-based instrumental rock troupe Tation, known for their exploratory sound that mixes Chinese traditional folk and experimental music into a bedrock of post rock, probe into the “strange social phenomenon that happened in the Chinese mainland from 2021 to 2022” on this new EP, searching for answers across four tracks that highlight the band’s versatility. Grandiose yet delicate, firm yet limber, Tation have a knack for maneuvering across post rock’s many facets, making this one of their most accessible works yet.

Laughing Ears – The Forest That Hears 听林

Shanghai-based producer Laughing Ears returns with her latest slice of heady electronica on The Forest That Hears, dancing between experimental, ambient, footwork, IDM, and tribal rhythms with sultry conviction. Rhythmic, cerebral, stirring and detailed to a tee with broken beats and ear-popping flourishes (breaking glass for instance) that bewitch, it’s a hell of a treat. Welcome back.

No Parking 私人车库 – The 3rd Rome 第三罗马

Garage rockers No Parking, formed way back in the half-life of the garage revival of the early 2000s, make a pretty good argument for its return with their hearty, hefty, and easily digestible debut The 3rd Rome. Hailing from Guangzhou, the band slices together a slew of elements — from surf rock to post punk — and touches on everything from the war in Ukraine to one’s disdain for being stuck in a KTV room. It may evoke countless bands both here and aboard, but it’s hard to deny the fun to be had (and the chops to back it up) in their sound palette.

Mimik Banka 表情银行 – Black Island 嘿!岛

Mimik Banka continue to flourish and spread their wings musically on the lush, intricately assembled EP Black Island. Dipping their toes into the vast world of ‘prog pop,’ the Beijing band seems to be embracing a more orchestral and cerebral sound, one full of tempo changes and sonic shifts that recall a richly detailed story being told aloud at a campfire. And despite the baroque, twisty arrangements within each of the tracks, there’s a crisp melodic drive to the band’s music (as they note, all the songs are in the same key) that keeps you afloat, wistfully looking ahead across the sea.

Trip Fuel 吹飞 – The Great Depression

Hefei indie rockers Trip Fuel tap into the age of disillusion with evocative precision on their LP The Great Depression, released with Wild Records. A tapestry of emo rock earnestness, post rock potency, shoegaze dissonance, and 90s-era alt rock, the album showcases how the band continues to find new and unusual ways to express themselves, their vulnerabilities bleeding into the crevasses of their lengthy, brooding, high-wire arrangements. Unwavering, bittersweet and deftly assembled, Trip Fuel finds poetic acceptance in their melancholy, wearing it like a badge of honor.

GriffO 鬼否 – 本体Ontology

The high-wire Hangzhou prog math rock outfit GriffO return with their latest LP, Ontology. Inspired by AI and how civilization might unfold by its own accord, the band takes prog to new frontiers, constructing a digital tapestry for its members to zipline across, rich with sharp intricacies and beguiling idiosyncrasies. Refreshing, inventive, and kinetic in its magnetism, GriffO delight at every turn. The album’s tightly wound and off-kilter arrangements unveil strange wonderful architectures all along the way.

33EMYBW – Holes of Sinian

‘Arthropodal’ electronic producer 33EMYBW returns with her fourth album Holes of Sinian. Released once again on Chinese-born label SVBKVLT, this atmospheric and singular work that places her firmly in the pantheon of electronic artists in China. Exploring the “overlapping gaps and penetrating scenes” of the stone that lends the album its title, the artist collaborates with leading exponents of the international avant-garde electronic scene, including Marina Herlop, Batu, and oxi peng. As 33 ricochets over unknown terrain deftly and delicately weaved together out of both modern and traditional sounds, she crafts a thrilling new world whose inner workings only she is privy to.

Guzz – Fantasia in the Wind 风中的幻想曲

Electronic producer Guzz, known for his dreamlike pastiche of traditional Asian sounds spliced with contemporary electronica, heads deeper into contemporary classical music with his latest, the sprawling and whimsical Fantasia in the Wind. By terraforming electronic sounds into traditional instruments and tones, the highly skilled artist has in many ways commissioned an electronic orchestra of his own, harnessing it to craft narrative-rich tracks that hook you in. At times sounding like a soundtrack to a long lost Final Fantasy game, and featuring samples of singers from Hainan’s Li ethnic minority, the album may not be suited for the club, but it is one of this year’s the most lush releases, an aural adventure one can’t wait to revisit again and again.

Banner illustration by Haedi Yue

Join the Conversation
Write comment

We assure you, this page will eventually load