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New Music January: Higher Brothers’ Masiwei Primes New Album and Yu Su Dazzles

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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.

Here’s a rundown of the songs that have soundtracked the month of January in the RADII office. This includes Lexie Liu’s newest EP, some unsettling new psychedelic rock from Alpine Decline, and the best album of the month from producer Yu Su.

Lexie Liu — Gone Gold

Lexie Liu returns with a brand new EP referencing, of all things, video game culture in Gone Gold. We say “return” with a grain of salt here, as Lexie was busy with new tracks and new groups throughout 2020.

The EP veers away from her sultry R&B, taking in influences from new wave, synth pop, and even a Gregorian chant (something we never knew we wanted until now).

Alpine Decline — For the Betterment of Well People

One of the most interesting rock groups to have graced China’s music scene in recent years, Alpine Decline return with their latest record, full of the exuberance of their new home in California.

 

Choice lyrics include “I’ve found a door or maybe a window,” referencing breakthrough or change, or perhaps sudden inspiration. These lyrics are placed alongside submerged and softly sung vocals, as well as disconcerting sonic effects, for sounds that are insidiously beguiling.

Voision Xi — 4 Loops in Her Way

Jazz singer Voision Xi’s new record 4 Loops in Her Way is, according to the EP’s Bandcamp description, an act of self-development, as she takes on production duty for the four tracks, inspired in four different directions to play with musical space.

 

It’s her first fully instrumental release, with vocals conspicuously absent. Blissfully explorative, 4 Loops in Her Way is on the one hand a piece that takes the listener down a rabbit hole, and on the other just well-crafted and intoxicating music.

Yu Su — Yellow River Blue 

Canada-based Chinese producer Yu Su’s first full length album comes out on newly established label bié Records, a link that was forged following her China tour in winter of 2019.

 

Gorgeously understated, the album has been raking in stellar reviews since its release on January 22, and for good reason. It is at times light as a feather, at other times imbued with shadowy corners of introspection.

Related:

Vancouver-Based Producer Yu Su Drops First Single from Debut Album

Dizkar feat. MIA AIM — “Old Old Not New”

Two of Chengdu label Mintone Records’ most exciting artists join forces here for their new track “Old Old Not New,” inspired by the turn of the year and a rare spray of snow for the city that they’re based in, Chengdu.

“Old Old Not New” is a gorgeous R&B track, with both Dizkar and MIA AIM singing over tight and playful beats. Embracing nostalgia and a longing for the new year, and new returns, the single is perfect for your lazy weekend afternoon soundtrack.

Masiwei — “Toban Djan” and “Why”

Around this time last year we had Masiwei’s first solo album drop, which was a loved-up affair. The Higher Brother has been dropping singles again, with his follow up record, Dark Horse, set to drop on February 14 (Valentine’s Day).

“Toban Djan” references a popular bean paste commonly used in Sichuan cooking (douban jiang 豆瓣酱 in Mandarin), and conspicuously references Allen Iverson — which may in turn be a reference to Post Malone’s “White Iverson,” who knows?

“Why?” is a bit more of what we might expect from a record dropped on Valentine’s Day, with lyrics referencing a break-up and a music video that looks like a romantic crime film.

Yamy — “Utopia”

Former Rocket Girls 101 member Yamy rose to the top of trending charts in China last year, after she came out on Weibo about the verbal abuse and bullying she suffered from music executives while a member of the group.

She returned triumphantly with her new EP Prologue at the end of December, but has been dripping out new music videos since then. The latest, “Utopia” has been garnering attention on Chinese social media for its evident support of minority populations and LGBTQ+ groups.

Lu1 — “Feng”

Another Mintone Records affiliate, we spoke a bit about Lu1’s previous single release, “Paperback,” back in November. He returns here with “Feng” (风), which is the Chinese word for wind.

The track reflects this natural imagery, using brass horns and playing with different atmospheric effects to maximize an idea of something ethereal and hard to capture.

Vinida — “Love is Blind”

Vinida has been on our radar for a while now. The Fujian-born, Beijing-based rapper is signed with Modern Sky’s hip hop label M_DSK, and has been making waves since the release of her debut album back in 2017.

Her new track “Love is Blind” brings her back into the limelight after something of a layoff. The track is funky, fun, and highlights her soaring singing ability, while the music video is also well worth checking out.

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.