Daily DripCulture

Listen to a New Album Inspired by the Skylines of Shanghai and Shenzhen


If you wanted to hear some jaggedly composited field recordings/semi-abstract experimental music sourced from the bustling urban metropoli at the center of China’s economic rise, wow what a coincidence, I have just the thing for you.

Last month UK artist Simon James release an album of just that, compiled while he was in Shanghai and Shenzhen earlier in 2018 along with BBC Radio 3 DJ Nick Luscombe’s site-specific, urban-focused Musicity project. While in town Luscombe connected with RADII favorites Gooooose and 33EMYBW, and James dutifully smashed “record” to audio-document his forays across the two cities.


Listen: BBC Samples the Beijing Music Underground

Released as a cassette, James’ Musicity 003 Shenzhen/Shanghai features the decontextualized sounds of “Huge cavernous silos…a cacophony of horns…maze-like patterns and sequences that circle and loop…peace broken by invisible electricity…”, along with plenty of other small slices of aural life in the contemporary Chinese megacity.


Stream the album above, and if you’re into this kind of thing, see also UK sound artist Peter Cusack’s 2007 field recording album Favourite Beijing Sounds and Beijing-based artist and curator Colin Chinnery’s slowly evolving Beijing Sound History Project.

Cover photo: Simon James gathers source material at an electronics market in Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei area (photo by Dickson Dee, via Simon James’ blog)

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily 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.

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