穴牙: Sound Illusion 声波幻像 – Aero-Boat 空气船, Frankfurt Helmet + 膨胀螺丝, Fake Gentle 假斯文, LST, 上马巡雾 (ModernSky Lab 2021.03.06)
Baby showers and live music was the name of the game last Saturday as I joined friends for an evening at Modernsky Lab after a little shindig at my place. And for their first outing in the Year of the Ox, the Hongkou venue did not hold back, assembling a sonically titillating array of acts with electronica in their DNA one way or another. And while pretty much all the acts featured consisted of the indie scene’s most established musicians from years past, the lineup was indeed fresh – with most of the acts only gaining traction in the past year.
Things kicked off with 上马巡雾, the new project from Aming and Bai Tianke (of Mirrors) – there’s a madcap lived-in quality to their performance that’s easy to get wrapped into even if it’s clear it’s still fermenting and taking shape. But I think its improvisational streak and 80s IDM-evoking sound are a whole lot of fun and dynamic in its rhythmic layers.
Up next were Chengdu’s Fake Gentle – which consists of two of The Hormones’ founding members – Li Jing and Wang Xiaoxue, who left that band in 2017. Since then they’ve evolved from a duo into a fully formed band – leaning into their former band’s more electronic coldwave components – showcasing a feminist-bent, pulsating bit of electro-pop that’s crisp, lean, and buzzing with rock and roll attitude. It didn’t exactly light my fire, but it’s clear they’ve got the goods. Will be interesting to see how they develop.
It’s only been a few months since I’ve last caught Aero Boat, but damn are they getting better. The trio featuring Zhan Pan (of The Gar) and Li Nan (of Da Bang) feels like a band that so many others have strived to be over the past couple of years – an indie band whose pop sensibilities are never shoe-horned in and instead are utilized in service of (and alongside) some richly detailed and electronically propulsive rhythms – all elevated by a band that can play the shit out of their instruments. Simply put, it’s a dream team match-up.
Cool-hued IDM architects Frankfurt Helmet, who recently relocated to Shanghai from Wuhan, were perhaps my favorite act – an ambient-filled slow-burning set made the ever more satisfying by the duo teaming up with visual artist 膨胀螺丝, who utilized some sort of facial recognition/motion sensor app on his phone to manipulate the awe-inspiring images on the screen – from facemask troops overtaking an urban center to a face-melting mashup of emojis and faces (which may or may not have been grabbed from the utterly terrifying https://thispersondoesnotexist.com/). Truly complemented the sometimes stirring, sometimes kinetic, and always engaging set. A fine addition to the Shanghai music scene.
I stuck around for a bit of LST’s set, -Li Nan’s second time to show off his slick drumming skills and he didn’t disappoint. Joining him was Liu Shang of C.K.T.P (Chaos Kills The Pain) and yeah it was the perfect closer to the evening. Stimulating tunes all around.