Night Swimmer’s New Album Commemorates Lockdown Life in Wuhan

Titled ‘Xia Ye,’ the new album was shaped by a transformative hike through a mountainous region in Central China

2 0
9:35 AM HKT, Sat July 30, 2022 1 mins read

While exploring the mountains of Wuhan one night, artist He Dengke (aka Night Swimmer) was struck by inspiration. Covid had just started to spread across his hometown of Wuhan and China’s Hubei province (of which Wuhan is the capital), and the musician found the isolation and calm of the countryside both lonely and intriguing.

The feelings from that outdoor excursion shaped his newest album, Xia Ye, a collaboration with the electronic music label Shy People, which will be released on August 31.


A portrait of artist He Dengke aka Night Swimmer

Night Swimmer, who also goes by Ethan, is a self-taught music producer who has made a name for himself in Wuhan’s underground music scene.

The artist previously released two full-length albums titled Shan Shui and Shock River. He is known for his innovative approach to mixing 1990s Chinese psychedelic rock, ‘Fourth World’ electronic music, and traditional Chinese sounds.

The music maven, who made it a point to document his personal struggles and the general chaos surrounding China’s Covid outbreaks and lockdowns, spills it all in his new project.

The instrumental album sees a marked mix of contrasting themes such as mortal confusion and moments of calm — a metaphor for having reached new spiritual terrain. This dichotomy is perfectly reflected in the album’s title Xia Ye, as the two characters carry dual meanings. In Mandarin pinyin, xia might mean ‘summer’ (夏) or ‘idle’ (暇), while ye can mean ‘night’ (夜) or ‘wilderness’ (野).

Two songs from the album, which consists of 11 songs, are now available on Bandcamp: ‘Silver Flying’ and ‘Depression Fruit.’

‘Silver Flying,’ which carries elements of traditional Chinese music, would serve as the perfect background music for anyone hiking through rural China’s otherworldly mountains. Meanwhile, ‘Depression Fruit’ features more electronic sounds and starts off hyper before mellowing out.

An aural memoir of Night Swimmer’s transformation in the past two years, Xia Ye is a calming marriage of Western and Chinese sounds and perfectly encapsulates the spiritual crisis of the modern world.

Above all, the artist hopes his music is just as spiritually renewing for his listeners — especially those who feel lost in our hectic times — as it is for him.

All images via Shy People

Join the Conversation
Write comment

Pour yourself a stiff one, we'll be with you in a minute