Yin: Analog Sorcery from Synth Designer Meng Qi

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9:07 PM HKT, Fri July 13, 2018 1 mins read

Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip-hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

Today we bring you fresh alchemical analog artistry from Beijing musician, synthesizer designer, lecturer, inventor and innovator Meng Qi. His latest recording, Span, was released (and almost immediately sold out) on cassette last week by ambient music label Cloudchamber Recordings.

Here’s the title track, an excerpt from a live performance that Meng gave at one of the several institutions where he’s been employed as a lecturer, the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing:


Professor Meng has also plied his trade at the Beijing Contemporary Music Academy and the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, and has led numerous workshops around the world. (In March he was invited to perform at Design Society Shenzhen, a shiny new institute operated by London’s V&A Museum and China Merchants Group.) But his first passion is making weird, eerie, often beautiful electronic music.

Starting out in 1999, Meng’s progression as a musician took a more scientific turn when he began designing and building his own instruments in the early 2010s. In 2015 he released what remains his most popular invention, the Voltage Memory, which is the first Eurorack module from China and retails for 350USD a pop. Meng Qi actually has about 20 Eurorack modules on the market, but if you don’t follow the high price-tag world of contemporary synth nerding, you might still be able to enjoy some of Meng’s further-out inventions, like this “playable patchbay”:

Or maybe you’d just like to listen to something a little more accessible and less technical. Here’s another cut from Span, “晚风” (wan feng, “Night Wind”), which sees Meng flexing his vocal cords as his modular synthesizer rack gently weeps.

Stream/buy Meng Qi’s Span here.

Cover image: Meng Qi/Gao Yuan

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