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Yin: Sickly Synth Ritual from Taipei’s Forests

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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.

Allow me to darken up your Friday with “Idol Collapse,” title track from the latest full-length by Taipei’s Forests:

 

Forests formed in 2011 “to channel the Beach Boys through a nightmare,” in the words of founder Jon Du, rising from the ashes of a previous darling of the Taipei reverb-drenched indie rock circuit, Boyz & Girl. While Boyz’s Girl went on to refine the quirky indie thing to near perfection via her solo vehicle Skip Skip Ben Ben, Forests went their own way, debuting with The Moon is Man, a record sure to please any fan of golden-era ’90s burnout garage.

They’ve moved way past that now, though. Idol Collapse, is a clear, sub-rattling indication of certain trends that have been taking form in the Taipei underground scene over the last several years, as Forests and others in their circle have let their overdriven guitar amps cool and gravitated more toward the noisier edges of techno and alternative club music. This shift has been catalyzed in part by Lonely God, a label founded by Du in 2015 to organize the thoughts and sounds of groups such as ritualistic drone duo Scattered Purgatory and fellow peripatetic genre hopper Simon Frank.

 

Lonely God also released Forests’ first foray into darker territory, 2015’s Dead Species, and Idol Collapse — released by SF-based industrial doomsayers Left Hand Path — plays like a culmination of that overall trajectory. On the title track in particular, the flesh-and-blood sound of Forests’ previous outings are boiled down into awkwardly non-quantized electronics, all pulsing metal and cool vocal tracts, no fuzz or delay or anything else to muddy up the slightly queasy, oddly satisfying ritual feeling that unfolds throughout, simultaneously abrasive and organic.

Or as the Bandcamp liner notes put it:

Certain feelings, visions, and sounds recur to us as if in dreams. Flashes of recall, hints of remembrance, suggestions of what could have been, or what may yet still be. A spark — a glimpse — a glimmer. We gaze into the abyss, fearless; the abyss gazes back, familiar. Cognition — recursion — immanence.

Grip the album as vinyl or vapor here, and if you’re in China you can catch Forests on their album release tour here.

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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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