Guitar and bass duo Gong Gong Gong, who have been haunting the music scene for years, come full circle on their dynamic and unique debut Phantom Rhythm. Made up of some of the underground scene’s old guard – Josh Frank of Hot & Cold and Tom Ng of The Offset:Spectacles – there’s a scrappy stripped back sensation to the way the duo maneuver around the confines of rock and roll, allowing the interplay between the two instruments to create robust sound that ever hints at a presence of a snare. It may be minimalistic on paper, but instead of taking the easy way out and leaning into the perpetual grooves, Gong Gong Gong find innovative pathways around their sound, sculpting topsy-turvy melodies over stories veiled in cryptic allure and danger. It’s an intoxicating cocktail, one that takes inspiration from ‘from Bo Diddley to Cantonese opera, West African desert blues, drone, and the structures of electronic music’ and in the end, charts its own unique course.
With shades of emo rock and city pop, Changsha’s Autistic Radio keep the mood loose and tender on their debut EP, out on Small Animals Records. Founded just a year ago, the band continues the trend of jangly pop makers flooding the airwaves across China – finding solace in the retro-outfitted sounds of yesteryear whilst imploring humid slabs of reverb and distortion, and propulsive melodies that burn brightly with adolescent vitality. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the wistful and angst-ridden vocals and not feel a sting of empathy or nostalgia. A rallying call for the disenchanted youth, Autistic Radio are those butterflies in your stomach spilling forth with reckless abandon.
Fresh on the scene electronic label Field Ring Recordings, based out of Wuhan, taps into everlasting journeys found in ambient music with the debut release from Slot Canyons. The project, headed by label founder and musician Ryan Blankley (of Panic Worm), it combines elements of field recordings, fragmented electronics and spacey drones with glitchy guitars, layering textures with minimal hardware yet endless imagination, treating every sample as a building block to something grandiose and transcendent. Intended ‘to capture the intensity of the Wuhan humidity and the scenery at the East Lake’ it’s an album that washes over you, blanketing you in a swirl of emotion and sound, particularly begging you to lose your head in the clouds.