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Yin: “Buckle Up” for South Acid Mimi’s Electrifying Dance-Punk Debut

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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.

Another week, another long-anticipated debut from the stranger depths of the Chinese underground. Last week we got Under the Moonlight, the first album by RADII favorite YEHAIYAHAN released under her given name (as opposed to stage names like ChaCha or Faded Ghost). And today we get MIMISM, the first album-length release from inimitably weird Kunming trio South Acid Mimi, freshly out from Ruby Eyes Records.

(That’s just a preview; stream the whole thing on Spotify.)

MIMISM was a long time in the making. As I wrote last March, “South Acid Mimi perked up on the radar of some tastemakers from Beijing-based label Ruby Eyes Records, who flew to Kunming, saw them play, and signed them on the spot.” That was in May 2015. It wouldn’t be until 2017 that the trio, which is now split across two cities in southwestern Yunnan province, would set down this recording at Gebi, a former Taoist temple that now functions as an occasional live music venue in Yiwu, best-known as the world’s foremost manufacturer of small commodities.

(Gebi is also the full-time crash pad for one of the hands-down best psych freakout jam bands doing it today, Ya Ting Tian. Harry Styles, who was recently seen repping Ya Ting Tian’s label Spacefruity Records, is potentially a fan.)

But I digress. MIMISM was recorded in 2017 at Gebi by Ya Ting Tian’s Li Ping. From what I’ve heard, South Acid Mimi preferred Li Ping/Gebi’s earthier, more intimate, lower-fi sound over a previous, too-pristine studio session with a seasoned producer provided by Ruby Eyes, one reason for the album’s delay. (The band actually shares a co-producer credit along with Li Ping on the final product.) MIMISM was supposed to come out sometime in 2018, when I interviewed the band and they told me “we put so much love into it, and now it’s done” — but the world had to wait another year to accommodate one of the band’s members having a child.

Turns out MIMISM was worth the wait! I guess if hard-pressed to call it a genre I’d say “dance-punk,” but not in that early-’00s LCD Soundsystem/DFA 1979 sense, more like if Bikini Kill was slipped some suspect molly. My favorite track is probably still “Original Soul,” which RADII premiered in February 2018 (!), but the album as a whole is chock full of ideas — maybe too many ideas, in a good way — and has a little something for everyone. Play it like a recurring mantra. In the words that the band uses to describe its overarching theme:

“Heart-based; sound is blood; rhythm is the Tao; heaven and earth are home.”

Stream/buy MIMISM on Spotify or Apple Music.

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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.