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Yin: Tap in to an Alternate Futurism with W.Y. Huang’s “Mercy”

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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.

Ever since first connecting with him online via a shared interest in Sinofuturism, and catching him on the ’17 Do Hits tour, I’ve been following the trajectory of NYC/Singapore artist W. Y. Huang with close interest. Honestly I couldn’t avoid the name if I wanted to. Huang’s signature production style — recognizably inspired by Asian soundscapes without being weighted down by historical sonic referents — has kept popping up in my peripheral field, whether in a Bohan Phoenix beat or tripped out pulp wushu video. Huang has a knack for balance, a talent for sounding both fresh and rooted. As Bohan put it: “He really knows how to blend the elements naturally, where it doesn’t stand out too much but still demands your attention.”

And demanding attention now is “Mercy,” a soulful 3-minute meditation that’s just dripped out ahead of the May 24 release of W. Y. Huang’s latest album, Crossing The Great Water 利涉大川.

 

Crossing The Great Water 利涉大川 is Huang’s debut on NY label Twin Records, and his deepest trip yet into the overlap between ancient Taoist ritual and the myriad rituals required to navigate rapidly shifting future topographies. In the artist’s words:

Crossing The Great Water 利涉大川 draws from imagery of Chinese magick and philosophy. The rhythms and melodies are heavily inspired by Taoist ritual music heard around Singapore—the city where I grew up—and its curious interplay with the highly globalized, futuristic landscape of the country. Narratively, it tells the story of an AI’s interaction with Taoist spells of power and his journey towards achieving consciousness.

With this record, I set out to create a vision of the future through a spiritual Asian lens; a vision not bound by Western identity politics or orientalist fantasy, but one that is rooted in an ancient, enduring philosophy. The process has taken me through my own personal journey of discovering spirituality in a way that has been life-changing.

Crossing The Great Water 利涉大川 is out on May 24 from Twin Records.

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.