Default 缺省 – Can You Hear The Whistle Blow?
Beijing shoegaze outfit Default transforms before our very ears on their bold and surprising new EP Can You Hear The Whistle Blow?, out on SJ Records. Shedding a good chunk of their overflowing reverb-soaked sound, the band is aiming for something more pop-originated, crafting four tracks that retain their appeal for emotional gravitas but through the medium of indie pop, American folk guitars, and female-led rock and roll (ala Cranberries, Passion Pit, and Wolf Alice) thanks to the addition of vocalist Edine. It’s an intriguing new direction and though it may disappoint fans, it’s an album that’s rich in its arrangements and one that sneaks up on with its resonance over time.
Underdog 败犬 – 魔鬼的声音
Following in the tradition of marrying reggae, ska and punk, Beijing’s Underdog pull up their bootstraps and bring in further elements to fuse into their sound – from surf rock, country music, rockabilly and even dub. Lyrically driven with a keen sense of composition and empathy deep within its bones, there’s something authentically old school about the band – a maturity that may not reveal itself musically but through its rustic charm, rhythmic control and uncompromising defiance. Underdog stick to their guns and are all the wiser for it.
Peach Illusion 桃子假象 – Let Me Enter Your Eyes 借你的眼
Shanghai-based indie pop outfit Peach Illusion take their punch-drunk love sound and wrap it in a summer-hued comic book for their dizzying ambitious and conceptual new EP, Let Me Enter Your Eyes. Loosely based around a story of our musical heroes traveling to ‘Peach Planet’ and awakening a monster (of emotions), the four tracks, featuring the band’s signature blend of wistful lyricism and jangly guitar pop melodies, are accompanied by chapters in a manga-style comic book (illustrated by artist touyeye) and even includes figurines based on the characters. Wanderlust captured every which way.
MICE 李洪祥 – 0.01%
Mice – the maverick Hangzhou producer – known for his angular, riveting and off-kilter IDM – returns with his finest yield yet – 0.01% – out on FucntionLab. Divided into four chapters that echo and recall the ‘life cycle of a parasite’ and its ‘metempsychosis from fear to calm’, it’s a driven piece of work – one that’s pulsating with hypnotic melodies, heavy beats, fraught feedback and intricately crafted details. Recalling the more ambient-laced work of producers like Jon Hopkins, it’s an album that works both as a club floor pleaser and a bedroom mind-blower – featuring larger-than-life soundscapes that get the adrenaline pumping and these neurons doing cartwheels across your membrane. Techno music with an IDM heart – 0.01% is one of the year’s best.