New jams coming out from all corners of China, including some ethnically-infused post rock out of Xining, electronic rock out of Chengdu, experimental noise out of Shanghai and Beijing, and shoegaze dream pop out of Shaoxing. Not even sure where some of these cities are! Here’s the latest from Tation, Stolen, Nahash, Noise Arcade, and City Flanker.
Chengdu electronic rock band Stolen, one of 2014’s shining stars, return with their first proper debut, Loop. Off of D-Force Records (snagging a slew of top tier talent in their first year as a label), the eleven track LP is a tightly wound polished piece of electro rock that feels fresh, vital, and just out there enough to find an audience. Mixing everything from post punk, new wave, to indietronica, it’s a lush, dense collection of tunes that burst with forward moving momentum, showing just how much the band has grown over the past couple years. Killer guitars, dark synthesizers, a singer who actually sings, and lyrics that engages with a modern China that’s more splintered than ever due to technology, it’s as much a product of China’s indie music scene as it is of the West’s. Refined but never clean. Dark but never off-putting, it’s a hell of a debut. Spin it on xiami, purchase it here, and check the band out on their epic China tour.
Shoegaze has acted as quite the well for up and coming Chinese artists – sun-drenched distortion, jangly reverb dream pop – it’s a sound that when done right, feels like bliss. And Shaoxing’s City Flanker hits pretty damn close on their first EP, Let Me But Listen. Four tracks of nostalgic invoking, trance inducing sound that packed with loud, droning riffs, and cascades of feedback, and waves of distortion. All the staples. City Flanker’s secret weapon lies in their melodic precision, which turns each of the tracks into a surefire dream pop single that would sound right at home on the FM radio. Color me excited for the new wave of shoegazers out there, and be sure to keep an eye on these cats (word is Nasty Wizard Recordings has them tapped for a new release) who’ll next be attending the Second East Asia Shoegaze Festival in Shanghai on August 29th. Spin the EP on their douban or xiami page.
Ace Shanghai label, a fellow cassette advocates, Huashan Records continue dabbling in the dark arts are their latest split between experimental acts Nahash and Noise Arcade out of Shanghai and Beijing. The split, meant to accompany the artists’ duel tours in Malaysia, dropped yesterday. On side A, Nahash cuts deeper and to the core (and noise) of the drone doom project, giving us three tracks of disheveled harsh noise which get fuller and more layered, finding a nice balance between somber calm and escalating chaos. And while it’s more bare bones than Nahash’s more recent releases (it was recorded two years ago) it retains just as much bite. Meanwhile, on side B, Noise Arcade continues to refine his signature sound – interweaving layers upon layers of sounds which buzz and whirr until they morph and bloom into a symphony of noise and textures which hook you in. Catnip for the ears kids. Pop over to Huashan Records bandcamp page to snag a limited edition cassette.
Post rock has its grubby little hands in all of China, and all the better for it. The latest band to surface comes all the way from Xining, in Qinghai province (that’s west China for you). Established in 2012, Tation has been steady working the circuit, refining their sound, invoking their heritage, and most importantly, crafting some rich post rock that at once feels effortless and complex. And while it’s not going to win over post rock new comers, there’s a lot to like here, including subtle ethical flourishes, as well as a slower more laid back pace, compared to a lot of the heavier sounding post rock out there. Very cool stuff – check out Tation’s three track EP, Sequence序 on xiami and douban.