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9 New Music Releases from China to Get You Amped for Spring

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New Music, formerly Yin (音, “music”), is a monthly RADII column that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between.

It has been a long winter. With the long-awaited Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in the rearview mirror, the mania for ice, snow, and slopes is slowing down, and it’s time to look forward to sun, summer, and a quick trip to island paradise — Sanya, perhaps.

We’ve got a few summery tunes to get you in the mood for the approaching spring, such as all-star side project Mole Eyes, Bohan Phoenix’s new single, and Voision Xi’s lovely debut album under her own name.

As always, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of SoundCheck, where Wes Chen, host of hip hop podcast thePark, and Bryan Grogan talk about their favorite tracks of the month.

1. Mole Eyes — Qing Geman Wu (Sing Merrily and Dance Gracefully)

A new side project from The Molds, me:mo, and Dirty Fingers, Mole Eyes dropped a short five-song release with Space Fruity Records over on Bandcamp earlier this month.

 

It’s made up of three demos (including one from 2017, it seems) and two full-fledged tracks. The tracks are pared back, soft, and psychedelic and seem to revel in the idea of the beach and sunny days. At the end of February, with spring just around the corner, we need this kind of music.

2. GAI — “Weiyuan Story”

GAI has become perhaps the most famous hip hop musician in China since winning the first season of The Rap of China alongside PG One. His star has risen dramatically, and he’s now frequently seen on the country’s biggest music variety shows.

Though, with this explosion of popularity, the quality of his music has suffered, as he’s become better known for releasing shallow branded tracks and theme songs for blockbuster movies.

With “Weiyuan Story,” however, he dips into his personal history, using the small Sichuan town where he grew up as the canvas for a heartfelt track.

3. Sincerely Yours, Sergei — Sincerely yours, Sergei Live at Baihuashenchu

The name of this band makes us think of the old twee-pop band Au Revoir, Simone, for some reason. The music could not be more different, though, as Sincerely Yours, Sergei create noisy garage rock.

 

This release is a collection of four tracks that the band recorded live at Baihuashenchu studio in Beijing and is an early insight into what they are cooking up for their live shows around the capital.

4. Gatsby in a Daze — “心” (“Xin” — Heart)

This is the first we’ve heard from Gatsby in a Daze since their album 432 was released in February 2020. Since then, they’ve undergone a name change of sorts, as they’ve added a Chinese name — Yun Gai (暈蓋 or Halo Cover).

 

The sound is considerably less psychedelic than what we’re used to from them, and the song delights in piecing together nonsense sentences. They’re set to release a new EP with Ruby Eyes Records this spring.

5. Absolute Purity — “Crime Fiction” & “Ten Minutes”

Absolute Purity have become one of the best live bands in China since their founding in 2016. Surprisingly, they’ve yet to release an album. They’ll rectify that with We Fought Over the Moon, to be released with Ruby Eyes Records. 

The first single, “Crime Fiction,” is a techno punk epic imbued with colossal energy. It’s kind of reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeahs or something equally intoxicating from the heyday of indietronica. 

 

The second single, “Ten Minutes,” marries the sensibilities of a buzzsaw with the droning nature of krautrock, showing the breadth of the group’s musical interests.

 

6. Dirty K & LJC – Tokyo Renaissance/Kazumi

Nanjing-based producer Dirty K teams up once again with LJC, with whom he has also appeared on a release with Shanghai label Genome 6.66 MBP. The pair dig into Japanese rave music on this release, offering their take on extremely high BPM techno music.

The release comes via Eastern Margins, who have previously dug into hardcore Asian music with their compilation Redline Legends, and continue to be a platform that celebrates the remarkable diversity of club music across the continent.

 

7. Voision Xi — Lost for Words

Following her experimental EP 4 Loops in Her Way, released in January 2021, Shanghai-based singer-songwriter Voision Xi returns with her first full-length album as a solo performer — Lost for Words. A quick look at the liner notes for this album, and you’ll notice there were about 100 different instruments used during the production.

In Xi’s typical fashion, this fusion of elements is elegantly assembled, creating a group of songs that combine her musical life’s different phases. It is a very personal exploration of her music.

If you’re in Shanghai, Voision Xi will be holding a release concert for the album on March 19 at Changjiang Theater.

 

8. Bohan Phoenix and Yuan – “So Free”

Straight off of performing at halftime during an NBA game on Lunar New Year, Bohan Phoenix drops this new track alongside producer and DJ Yuan.

A product of Warner Bros pan-Asian label Whet Records, the track is bright, breezy, and uplifting and features Phoenix rapping and singing bilingually in English and Chinese.

9. Liang Yiyuan — “Convulsions of the Spirit” & “Endoscope”

The Wuhan-born avant-garde musician will release his album Thing Loses Itself in March. Ahead of that release, the label WV Sorcerer Records has released two tracks from the record, “Convulsions of the Spirit” and “Endoscope,” on Bandcamp.

 

Once a painter and now a musician and composer for films, exhibitions, modern dance performances, and more, Liang experiments with the yangqin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer, on the new songs. As the name of one of these tracks, “Endoscope,” suggests, the music is invasive, disturbing, and enlightening.

Cover image designed by Haedi Yue

Bryan Grogan
Bryan is RADII's former culture editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He once correctly guessed all 151 original Pokemon in seven minutes for an online quiz. He also correctly guessed all 100 second generation Pokemon in eight minutes for an online quiz.
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