Gig Recap: Smellyhoover, Nocturnes, KALA, Whale Wave (2021.04.17)

Smellyhoover 施妙力吸尘器, Nocturnes 曳取, KALA, Whale Wave 鲸浪 – Yuyintang 育音堂 2021.04.17

Modern Sky seems to be playing catch-up as of late, establishing a variety of new sub labels over the past year, and in many aspects are attempting to reintroduce themselves as tastemakers. One of the labels to come out of their expanding brand is Water-Made, a hub for ‘comfortable’ music (i.e indie pop, indietronica) and acts with a penchant for pop songs that soothe the ears with melodic precision. Based on the label’s starting roster, which touches upon everything from ethereal hip-hop to ambient-heavy urban pop, it’s not entirely clear what direction they’re heading toward but I’m intrigued nevertheless.

One of the folks behind the label is Guangzhou based indie singer-songwriter, Smellyhoover, known previously for his role in indie rock outfit Golden Cage. He also kicked off the event by giving a set that blended buoyant and wavey rhythms with gorgeously layered and manipulated vocals – atmospheric Cantonese pop that’s earnest and made with craft. 

Afterwards, Shanghai-based singer-songwriter Kala gave a sultry, slow-bunring set of R&B tunes – ones that aren’t afraid to employ some moody guitar reverb and bubbly hip-hip flair. 

Whale Wave was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. Indie pop with a bit of surf rock swagger and a soft saccharine Britpop coating, it’s not exactly the kind of music I gravitate toward usually, but when it works it works like gangbusters and I toward the end of their set I felt their songs sneaking up on me, particularly when they lean into the jangle of those melodies. 

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Nocturnes, the smouldering indietronica duo who hit hardest tonight, with a commanding stage presence (and how about those lights!) whose songs are full of delicate aplomb in both its lyrics and atmosphere. It’s an immersive sound whose cool-hued gravitas and bass-heavy propulsion complements its messy entanglement of emotions simmering underneath.

All in all, a nice eclectic evening of music that hit all corners of the musical rainbow. Keep your eyes out for Water Made this year.   

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