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Yin: Reimagined Guizhou Choirs from 33EMYBW

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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.

Kicking off May with the first release from a brand new label: Merrie Records. Long story short, Merrie Records was formed this year by the personnel that used to power D-Force Records and Douban Music. Excellent taste, that lot. Their stated mission now that they’ve regrouped under the Merrie Records banner is “to discover and promote the most creative forces in contemporary China,” and their initial effort to that end is a new release is for Shanghai-based RADII fav 33EMYBW:

 

DONG2 侗2 is the second EP in the Dong series that was initiated last year after 33EMYBW and fellow Shanghai-based producer GOOOOOSE visited a village in rural Guizhou province to learn about the polyphonic singing style of the Dong (or Kam) people there. More about that process:

Guided by SounDate co-founder Chen Qiaoqiao, who has been working with Dong artists for several years, Gooooose recorded vocal performances and natural sounds in the remote Xiao Huang Village, home to the UNESCO-listed Kam Grand Choir. Rather than add a bit of reverb and studio EQ and push these field recordings onto the “world music” market, however, Gooooose fed the source material into his studio back in Shanghai, supplementing the raw sounds of the Guizhou countryside and people with synthesizers and software effects. The result is — like Golem — puzzling and genre-allergic, looping faux-classical piano along with modular synth drones, lilting folk standards sung in the Dong language, and subtle pitch modulations that naturally occur in the polyphonic vocal style typical of the Dong choir.

Yin: Wild New Sounds from Shanghai’s 33EMYBW & GOOOOOSE

Stream/buy Dong2 here, and if you bookmark the Merrie Records Bandcamp that will surely yield a steady stream of fresh new sounds from China.

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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.

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