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Yin: Electronic Producer Howie Lee Taps Deep Bench of Talent for Remix Album

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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.

Late November, a time when all music writers begin to internalize the internet’s perennial thrum: Year. End. Lists. Well let me be the first to cop out give in to The Algorithm’s format of choice by collecting a few 2019 highlights. Conveniently, several of them can be framed around a just-released remix album accompanying Howie Lee’s brilliant October long-player, Tiān Dì Bù Rén, which is “a fourteen-track concept album mixing Daoist pith and environmental fatalism into a high-minded manifesto,” one might say.

Yin: Howie Lee Returns with Elegant, Asymmetrical New Album

The Tiān Dì Bù Rén remixes feature a few RADII favs, including Yehaiyahan, who had a big year herself. Her rework of Howie’s “21st Century Suicide” definitely feels more Faded Ghost than ChaCha, channeling the witchier elements of the protean singer and producer’s vibes in the direction of augmenting the uncanny valley aspect of Howie’s already kinda ghost-in-the-machine-flavored composition.

Yin: Lunar Oceans of Vibe from Shanghai’s YEHAIYAHAN On New Album “Under the Moonlight”

Elsewhere on the remix album is Alex Wang, a fellow Do Hits affiliate who does his anguished machine vs human thing on a remix of “Mountain Song in a Jar.” I had Alex as a guest for a live recording of my B-Side China show, which will be making a grand comeback in early 2020, promise! In the mean time, read more below about Alex’s April 2019 EP, 0%: “the rough digital grain of 0% is equated to the sonic profile of China’s breakneck, mass-scale urbanization, a process nowhere more visible than Shanghai.”

Yin: Alex Wang Bugs the Machine on New EP “0%”

But my personal favorite Tiān Dì Bù Rén remix comes from Chengdu-born, LA-based rapper PO8, who contributes a hip hop remix of the album’s debut single, which was released almost a year ago. The young po-et (get it?) switches up his meter and flow repeatedly on this wonderfully jagged cut, rhyming at different points about Dongfeng express shipping, 808s, canyons, caves, and “putting a candle on the grave of ignorant Netease Music users” (damn).

As a whole, the Tiān Dì Bù Rén remix album has a little something for everyone, a slice for every conceivable Boomkat category. Buy/stream it on Bandcamp.

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.