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Yin: An Ambient Slice of Beijing Life from fRUITYSPACE’s me:mo

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Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII column 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.

Mellow out on your way to the weekend with this recently released music video from Beijing’s me:mo. “First Class Night” is the first we’ve heard from this veteran in a while, good to register his trademark guitar-suffused ambient palimpsest floating out into the ether once again. The night depicted in this music video, shot in Beijing’s inner-city low-rise zone, does look Grade A indeed, an evening spent with vinyl, liter bottles of Yanjing beer, some chill guitar noodling, and a cat:

me:mo is the long-running project of Zhai Ruixin (up top, not the guy in the video). Zhai was a central member of Shanshui, China’s seminal early-’00s electronic music label, where he rounded out the exuberant 8-bit of Sulumi and cerebral techno of Shao (then known as Dead J) with minimalist, string-laden ambient IDM on releases like 2004 three-way split Dine Together with 7 People and his brilliant 2008 solo album, Acoustic View.

 

Though me:mo is still an active project, most of Zhai’s toil over the last decade or so has gone into a few essential projects that continue to sustain Beijing’s underground music scene today. In a time when venue closures are increasingly common in the capital, for either economic or political reasons, his fRUITYSPACE is a small oasis providing an open stage for bands like Boiled Hippo, 工工工, and The Molds (RIP) to ply their trade (as long as the decibel level doesn’t rise to the point where neighbors call the cops), along with a small and lovingly curated shop selling vinyl, tapes, and zines.

Related:

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Zhai is a fully DIY kind of guy, and on the side of the venue operates a cassette and tape label called Spacefruity, highly recommended (and not only because it’s weirdly repped by Harry Styles). There’s also fRUITYPRESS, a DIY book publishing project that has released a series of illustrations for ex-Hang on the Box/Ourself Beside Me composer Yang Fan, and the “worn-out secondhand festival” swap meet that occurs in fRUITY’s slightly dank basement semi-regularly.

Learn more about Zhai’s various pursuits in the RADII links below:

Photo of the day: fRUITYSPACE, Beijing

Yin: New Old Beijing Gutter-Garage from The Molds

Photo of the day: Vinyl Shop Owner Zhai Ruixin’s Shellac Attack

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.