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Yin: Pulsating Dark Electronica from Emerging Shanghai Producer Laughing Ears

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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.

Took more than half a year, but one of my most highly anticipated 2019 China releases is finally out: Tidal Effect by Laughing Ears. The semi-conceptual debut album from the young Shanghai producer was first previewed in my Pig Year Mix back in February, and is now here in its full, cresting, waving, pooling, looping glory.

It’s a pulsating album of dark electronica constructed with an experimental bent and laced with a tactile quality throughout thanks to the artist’s inclination to use cassette tapes and granular synthesizers as part of her process.

Stream the whole thing here:

 

Tidal Effect is Laughing Ears’ first full-length, and her second release on Beijing label Ran Music. They say:

[Tidal Effect] includes 8 tracks featuring her signature dark and cyberpunk sound, with heavy suffocating subs, intensive footwork influenced beats, twisted growling bass lines and mysterious cult-feel melodies. Laughing Ears delivers an epic of world-ending tidal effects using her extraordinary sound design technique.

Bonus round: last night, edgy Hangzhou dancefloor invaders FunctionLab teased the first bit of their third annual Functory compilation, and, surprise, it’s more Laughing Ears!

The brand-new track, “Polymorphic Reality,” is up on the FunctionLab Bandcamp, and you can also take it in via this visceral short vid starring a bewildering array of flailing pigeons, bio-luminescent insects, and strobing fluorescent tubes, but trigger warning, do not click if epileptic:

The rest of Functory 03 drops on August 5, so bookmark the Bandcamp page for that and get your nostrils ready:

“After the practice and introspection of the ‘localization of the vanguard scene’ in the past two years, we proudly started from Hangzhou and have extended our tentacles to a farther geographical space; Collecting music from all over the world and converging into functionlab’s own “smell”, self-centred yet separated from self-expression.”

Buy/stream Tidal Effect by Laughing Ears at the Ran Music Bandcamp or pick up the vinyl via Kompakt’s shop

Cover photo: Laughing Ears portrait by Jaya

More from Ran Music:

New Bass Music Label Ran Rad Connects Underground Producers from China & Germany

More from FunctionLab:

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

Listen: Hangzhou Producer GG Lobster Fucks Up Punk Classics

CITY MIX: Something in the Hangzhou Water

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.