One of the hip-hop scene’s most respected (and underrated) acts, j-fever, whose freewheeling, playful, philosophical and sometimes downright surreal spin on the genre makes him stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the fame-chasing trend-settling acts out there, pays tribute to his home base of Beijing with the sincere and thoughtful Beijing Ma? Collaborating once again with LA-based producer Soulspeak, whose retro, slick, and bubbly beats make for a highly fluid and soulful backdrop for the rapper’s brand of hip hop, the rapper looks to tap into ‘the kind of sloppy, careless, casual and absurd calm that exists in the city’ infusing the ten tracks with a jazzy, old school ragtag absurdity that utilizes everything from traditional string instruments to vibrant high-pitched keys, while musing on a variety of topics from escalating airline tickets (blame the pretty flight attendants) to unintentional dissent in the emperor’s court. It’s a blazingly singular piece of work with an off-kilter Beat Generation spirit that proves once again there a duo out there quite like j-fever and Soulspeak.
Sichuan-born, Wuhan-based singer-songwriter Shii knocks it out of the park of her sizzling debut – Floating Signifiers – a nifty piece of electro-pop that establishes the artist as someone both to be reckoned with in the pop world and in indie circles. Taking cues from such trailblazing artists like Robyn and Flume, the artist has conjured up a slick synth-pop world laced with IDM, glitch, darkwave, and dream pop elements, twisting ear-pleasing melodies in on themselves with surgical precision and a smooth sensuality. Better yet, there’s a warmth and sensitivity beneath the dynamic and intricately layered production, radiating from the singer’s dynamic voice and lyrics – a ‘collection of dreams, fantasies, and fears and shares a slice of a young woman’s world’. A hell of a calling card for the budding singer.
The Shanghai indie rock band, whose moody slow-burning tracks dip their toes in post-rock and shoegaze, take their atmospheric palette to full fruition on their fine debut. The band, fronted by twin brothers, wispily toes the line between reverb-heavy emotive instrumental rock and cathartic vocals, with some songs not even introducing vocals until the late second half. In the process they manage to devise a decollate tension between these two worlds, wandering through the piercing guitars, soothing and steady drums and tender vocals with a fragmented poetic pose, as if entering a strange new plane stuck being reality and dreams. It may not always hit its mark, but when it does it strikes a spell.