Shoegaze shines brightly in the basements of Beijing’s universities, an avant-garde masterpiece with an Inner Mongolian twist, a emo power pop sensation, and spaced out techno soundscapes to get lost in – it’s time to check with the newest releases to get our heads spinning in delight including albums from Default, Hai Qing, Twinkle Star, and Far Infinity.
Avant-garde gets a Mongolian twist on the latest album from Hai Qing. The Flesh, named after the Inner Mongolian word for flesh, unfolds very much like an ‘out-of-body’ experience, as Hai Qing seeks to find any semblance of ‘conscience’ outside his body. Words linger and strike down with terrestrial veracity. King Crimson-esque dissonant guitar riffs, loads of didgeridoo, and a slew of guests (including guitarist Li Xing who also acts as the album arranger) add their esoteric instrumental groove to the tracks and in turn create an intoxicatingly world of mischief and curiosity. Truly an album that rewards multiple listens, and 2017’s first great surprise. Xiami/163
I’ve become a bit of a shoegaze junkie as of late. There’s something comforting about being drenched in dreamy nostalgia and shit tons of reverb that simply tinkles my fancy. Default, out of Beijing, is the newest band to hold the shoegaze torch high and proud and their latest EP California Nebula is a master class of atmosphere and singed longing. Even more impressive – it was recorded in a university cafeteria basement (the North China Electric Power University) by four students. These guys are on the front lines of emotional maturity, confronting the expectations of adulthood, and it shows – from the neo-psychedelic grind of ‘Moon Plate’ and the affecting and epic ‘将死之时掩以水门汀’ this is a stunning debut of a band that demands your attention. Hyperbole much? Xiami/163
Emo pop punk mainstays Twinkle Star let it all out of their newest LP, their first since 2012, Full of Hope. The fourteen track album showcases first and foremost Zhao Meng’s transformation into lead singer. The former bassist (who also basses for the ever mighty New Pants) is in fine form here, carrying the catchy, life-affirming and energetic tunes with power pop aplomb. There’s a vitality to Twinkle Star’s music that keeps things running smoothly. It’s literally bursting with hope, happiness, sentimentality and passion, and even while it dips at times too far into schmaltz and sugar-coatedness, there’s no denying the charm and care put into every track here. As far as emo power pop goes, there’s no one better. Bandcamp/Xiami/163
While it fits nicely into the techno realm of things, compared to the artist’s label mates on Prajnasonic, Far Infinity’s EP Double Illusions exudes a more spacey dwelling of atmosphere – one’s that’s refined with lucid sci-fi elements with only the slightest touch of unease. In many ways, it reminds me of the PC gaming soundtracks of yesteryear – one that seamlessly drives your character forward through fluorescent-lit rooms and corridors with eased precision. It’s not tethered down to one particular strand and there’s a patience at hand here – an animated buoyancy to what Far Infinity has created here. It occupies a warehouse-sized space and lets its progressions emerge as slyly as a fox. Smooth as can be. Bandcamp/Xiami