Yin: Gripping Techno Thriller from Beijing Producer Shao


Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature 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.

YouTube just got a bit darker and deeper with the recent addition of “Reflection Pt.2” — a new video for Beijing techno artist Shao, produced by the visual agency Atomic Visual Studio and commissioned by one of Shanghai’s most progressive contemporary art institutions, Rockbund Art Museum. Ready?

Holy fishdragons. If you simply don’t have five minutes of attention span to spare right now, here are a few GIFs to catch you up:

OK then.

“Reflection Pt.2” is a single off Shao’s latest full-length album, Doppler Shift, which has been several years in the making. Like Shao’s latest outing, the 2015 7″ EP Doppler Shift, Pt.1, the new LP is being released by Tresor, the label arm of the storied Berlin techno club. Somewhat of a milestone, as Shao is the first Chinese artist to be released by one of the most important techno labels in the world.

Doppler Shift is a confident and calculated piece of work, a culmination of the steady evolutionary vector that Shao’s been traveling for the last five years or so. Smooth on the outside but intricate and brittle beneath the surface, it’s a consummate work of artisanal, crystalline minimal techno. In terms of the methodical buildup and ultimate release of suspenseful tension, Doppler Shift is almost Hitchcockian, though the MV above admittedly gives off more of a Buñuel vibe.

Shao performs at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (Facebook)

Tresor is handling the international release, but within China, Doppler Shift is the inaugural dispatch from Crater Records, a new spinoff of indie label Caotai Music with a stated focus on underground and left-field electronica. According to a mission statement released by Crater in August, this new sub-label:

…intends to discover the most futuristic and artistic depths of electronic music producers and artists, to publish avant-garde music with inspiring and creative co-existence, and to plan live performances related to it. Its tentacles cover the most pioneering electronic music categories in today’s electronic music scenes: IDM/TECHNO/AMBIENT/DRUM&BASS/DUB/INSTRUMENTAL…

Looking forward to seeing where that goes.

The Doppler Shift 12″ will be available on vinyl from Tresor (and your local techno dealer, presumably) on November 2. In the mean time, stream the album in full here.

If you happen to be in Beijing, catch the final stop of Shao’s Doppler Shift release tour this coming Saturday (10/27) at Dada Bar

You might also like:

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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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