Yin: Bombed-Out, Lo-Fi IDM from FunctionLab’s Phubber


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.

The indefatigable club killers grouped under Hangzhou‘s FunctionLab banner are at it again, with a new release for Jiangsu-born, Tokyo-based producer Phubber. The “95后” (born in or after 1995) producer made his official debut under the alias Underwater on last year’s Functory02 compilation. Like many of the artists in the FunctionLab orbit, Phubber aka Underwater takes a holistic, multimedia approach to his practice: he’s currently studying Computer Graphics in Tokyo, and gave a nod to his adopted home base in his Functory02 contribution, “Cyber Ninja”:


Now regrouped/reincarnated as Phubber, the young artist presents his first, fleshed-out, album-length effort: Phun. It comes hot off the digital press with this wild MV directed by Shanghai-based artist Kynan Watt, aka wifiovermybody, featuring the FunctionLab contingent ghost-writing nonsense scrawls in red paint across the walls of abandoned buildings marked with the dreaded 拆 (“to be demolished”) sign and incinerating a model SUV, the better to let dead ancestors ghost ride the whip:

Per the liner notes:

Phun does not tell a particular worldview, collages emotional fragments in correct or wrong positions outside of rational control. Using distortion and glitch to test the boundaries of “bad” in the analog and digital worlds.

Universe, dreams and excitement, solid rhythm or arrogant pad and melody, noun is a meaningless interpretation of false identity – ambient, techno, breaks or anything else, Phubber is breaking and reorganizing his understanding of music and himself with different cities and lifestyles.

Stream/buy Phun here, and click click click below for more recent output from the hard-grinding FunctionLab workshop and cutting-edge sounds coming out of Hangzhou:

Listen: Hangzhou Producer GG Lobster Fucks Up Punk Classics

CITY MIX: Something in the Hangzhou Water

Yin: Suspenseful Synths and Jackrabbiting Beats from Hangzhou’s Mice

Yin: Writhing Club Track “Invertebrate” by Hangzhou’s GUAN

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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