One of the indie scene’s most recognizable acts return, a new shadowy hip hop act gets dirty in Shanghai, a saxophone madman latest exploration, and a Beijinger solo artist finding his sound – it’s the latest releases with Queen Sea Big Shark, Jade Emperor, Li Tieqiao, and Steve Blaque.
Queen Sea Big Shark return and they’re never gonna be the same again. Bigger, bolder, and yes, even more foolhardy, this is the emergence of a band entering the pop world in style. Aesthetically, it’s all over the place – from Bollywood breakdowns, doo-wop summer singles, to hip hop jams, arena rock worthy anthems, and even some Kenny G sax thrown in for good measure, To Wild Heart, with the much appropriate subtitle of ‘Beijing Surfers’ Adventure’ is exactly that – an adventure of sound, rhythm, instruments, and well, production value (Beijing producer Soulspeak has a hand on three of tracks). And while it doesn’t always work – the band musically tries to bite off more than it can chew at times – there’s something utterly refreshing about a band that’s ready to shed its old skin and move forward with such reckless, joyous abandon. It’s not often I review an album the day after it release, but I’ve been playing it nonstop since yesterday and have a feeling this is one that we’ll be talking about at year’s end. Give me already – listen/purchase.
Mysterious Shanghai hip-hop act Jade Emperor has been an active bunch on bandcamp in the last year, dropping release after release of retro-fitting lo-fi hip hop beats over samples of cosmic infomercials, chinese television, and most satisfying of all, old kung-fu movies, as with his latest Kung Fu Theatre: Shaolin Super Lofi Volume. It’s dirty, offbeat, and proves once again that Shanghai is a fine breeding ground for some stellar producers (though I wouldn’t put it past Jade Emperor not even being based in Shanghai). Check out the crew’s whole collection over at their bandcamp page.
Renowned Chinese composer, saxophonist, and composer Li Tieqiao continues his explorations of sound in his latest album of improvisation sounds, Mountain and Sea Pass. Released on Modernsky’s sublabel Badhead, which specializes in avant grade music, the artist is in peak form here, using his sax to create otherworldly sounds and textures – I swear there are evens times when his sax sounds like a fluttering bird or a hippo coming up for air.
At just three tracks long, it’s a fine introduction to Li Tieqiao. The double album is nineteen tracks long and as far as I can tell you can only preview it online. Spin it over at xiami and check out Modernsky to purchase it.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, the Beijing based singer-songwriter Steve Blaque, who also runs and operates the Forbidden City Studio, has been a regular on the scene since the early 2000s, writing and performing at Beijing’s various haunts. In 2015, the put out quite a few releases, most notable My Lair, a collection of originals that showcases Steve’s brand of garage filtered, folk minded, rock and roll that pays homage to everything from Jeff Buckley to Nick Cave. Shows some serious promise. Check out Steve Blaque’s bandcamp which includes his latest release Blaque Monday, a collection of covers quite unlike anything you’ve heard – stripped down and reformatted injected with bountiful amounts of soul, albeit one shrouded in gray.