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.
Happy Porcine Year! To celebrate we’ve put together 90 minutes of world premieres, album previews, live recordings, raw demos, and deep cuts from alt-club/hip hop/indie/punk/noise scenes in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, overseas and underground, forecasting the Year of the Pig 2019. Stream it & find an annotated tracklist below!
This track from Nanjing-born, Netherlands-based producer 3ASiC is from an upcoming, as yet untitled and unannounced release from one-year-old Beijing label S!LK. Check out our profile of the label here:
Beijing Label S!LK Wants to Bring “Drastic” Sounds to the Club (and the Internet)
Here’s a preview from Tidal Effect, a semi-conceptual debut album for emerging Shanghai producer Laughing Ears. That’ll come out later this month on Ran Music; in the mean time you can sample more of Laughing Ears’ singular sonic worldview via a recent live set she gave for London web radio station NTS:
Yin: Alternative Electronic Sounds Live from Shanghai with Laughing Ears
Next up, a duet from GUAN and GG Lobster, two key figures from Hangzhou label/promoter FunctionLab. FunctionLab already has one 2019 release under its belt in a January EP for fellow Hangzhou producer Mice, and I’m expecting big things from them in general this year. For now here’s GG’s brilliant January self-released album of fucked up punk covers:
Listen: Hangzhou Producer GG Lobster Fucks Up Punk Classics
Here’s an unreleased cut from Chengdu trio Angry Navel, who combine raw vocal chops with a triple-synth setup and a hypnotizing stage presence. Like other bands that have emerged from the Chengdu rock milieu in recent years — eg Hiperson, Stolen — Angry Navel’s members come from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.
A live version of this song was actually featured on my Year of the Dog mix. Fast forward one lunar year and the Shanghai group — featuring vocalist Wen Jun of erstwhile Beijing indie scene darlings Guai Li — is finally putting the finishing touches on a debut LP, to be released later this year through Ruby Eyes Records.
Wen Jun/Absolute Purity
Kind of a lowkey Beijing experimental rock supergroup, Sleeping Dogs features A Bing (Boiled Hippo), Liu Xinyu (Chui Wan, Deadly Cradle Death), and Li Zichao (Chui Wan, The Molds) doing what they do best: melting your head with circular psychedelic jams. This is a demo but the band should have a proper release (or at least, a more legit demo) later in 2019.
Sonicave is another act to emerge from the hotpot-hot cauldron of new talent in Chengdu, and another band to have been scooped up by Taihe offshoot Ruby Eyes Records. Shoutout to Ruby Eyes for investing an immense amount into developing debut albums for bands from around the country (see also: the January 2019 debut from Kunming duo Cephalosis).
The Molds, alas, have just broken up, playing their final farewells with a duo of shows in Beijing and Shanghai last month. It was a bit of a delayed goodbye, as the band was more or less silent for years before abruptly re-emerging to release their belated debut album via Beijing label Spacefruity Records last autumn. This is a live cut from the album release/farewell tour the band did last year, to be issued as a (final, final) Molds dispatch by DIY-to-the-core Spacefruity later this year.
Yin: New Old Beijing Gutter-Garage from The Molds
Beijing’s Chui Wan, which withstood a fundamental lineup change with the 2018 departure of founding member Liu Xinyu and longtime drummer Li Zichao (of Sleeping Dogs, above), is currently in the studio preparing their fourth full-length album, and their second collaboration with NYC-based producer Rusty Santos. Look for that album to drop on Maybe Mars in summer-ish.
Here’s some fresh action from Guangzhou. Echo Park — a group of teenagers from around southern China who grouped up in the nearby megacity last summer — have just put out their debut release on the Dark Deer Project label. They describe their sound as “seaside laxity,” which seems just about perfect.
Speaking of the seaside, here’s a cut from recently reunited Xiamen indie-pop duo Cheesemind, featuring Chen Zhenchao of The White Tulips/Kirin Trio and RabitQ. They’ll come out with an album later this year from Guangzhou label Qiii Snacks. Check back on RADII in a few weeks for the latest in our City Mix series featuring fresh new waves from seaside Xiamen.
Guangzhou’s Qiii Snacks Records is Capturing the Sound of Southeastern China
Qiii Snacks label-runners and Guangzhou DIY scene lynchpins Die! Chiwawa Die! will also return with some new material this year. Keep an eye peeled for a new EP from them later in 2019, which RADII will be sure to cover.
Shanghai punks Dirty Fingers are in the midst of a multi-stage world tour, eyeing an appearance at the Aldeia Rock Festival in Rio de Janeiro in April, and a date in Cairo later in the year, a definite case of life imitating art. They’re also working on a new album, which should be out by September, according to the band.
Guangzhou’s Landfills, with their in-the-zone early ’90s grunge sound, were among the best new live bands I encountered in the wild last year. This cut is from their late 2018 debut EP; check out another jam from them in our Guangzhou City Mix:
CITY MIX: Six Quick Hits from Guangzhou
Zaliva-D, another RADII favorite, will return with his latest album Forsaken later in the year. This is an exclusive preview.
On the same note, the likeminded peddlers of dark, foresaken club jams at Shanghai label Genome 6.66 Mbp have spent the first part of 2019 tearing through the European club circuit, destroying clubs in the UK and Germany. They quietly released their first 2019 drop in late January, a punishing four-song EP for Mang. Buy/stream it here.
ChaCha/Yehaiyahan (photo by Wang Wei)
Shanghai vocalist and producer ChaCha has a big 2019 on the horizon. She’s just about to release a debut album under her new moniker (and her given name), Yehaiyahan, which she’ll promptly take on the road via a March appearance at Austin, TX music industry conference South by Southwest.
If you saw our recent interview with Bohan, you’ll know that he’s getting set to released a nine-song, full-band album produced by longtime collaborator Jachary in the coming months. More on all that here:
Bohan Phoenix Injects a Dose of Reality into China’s Hip Hop Boom on New Track “YMF”
Ex-Beijing, currently-LA producer Kai-Luen (also known as Soulspeak in another life) has been grinding out a whole mountain of unreleased material since relocating back to the States a few years back. He was featured on the debut compilation by new China/Leipzig label Ran Rad last month, which you can learn more about in a RADII label profile coming at you in the next week or so.
Following up on a now three-year-strong tradition, Beijing/Taipei-based producer Howie Lee did the usual Lunar New Year drop in his Socialism Core Value series, which re-purposes CCP catch phrases and traditional sounds in the artist’s own inimitable idiom. This is my favorite from Vol. III, co-produced by Do Hits affiliates Alex Wang and W. Y. Huang.
Yin: Howie Lee on “Socialism Core Value II”
Ending with an ellipsis in the form of teasers from two cassettes coming out soon on France-based, China-connected doom merchant WV Sorcerer. First is a piece of fine, coarse no-input mixer noise from Taiwanese artist Berserk — aka 1997-born Chia-Chun Xu — who will have a full release of this ready for you later in the month. It’s really carefully textured noise and might be the only part of this mix I recommend wearing headphones for. Finishing things off is a head scratching piece of freak folk/spoken word/sound collage from Wang Zijian, of whom WV Sorcerer label runner Shen Ruotan says: “I didn’t have time to write an introduction text… He is from Dagang Oil Field, one man project.”
Like what you hear? Find a few more RADII mixes here:
Yin Mix: Freezing Singles (Autumn 2018)
CITY MIX: Something in the Hangzhou Water
RADII MIX: New Music for Year of the Dog
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