New Releases: Ocean Walker, The Horde, Big John, Zaliva-D


Jumping all over map sonically and geographically, with epic post rock soundscapes out of Kunming, Chicago style blues from one of Beijing’s pioneers, contemporary bluegrass from China’s financial capital, and dark oriental club vibes from Beijing’s underbelly. And still managing to stumble upon a few gems from last year very much worth visiting. Here’s your weekly supply of the latest and newest releases from Ocean Walker, Big John, The Horde, and Zaliva-D.

Kunming, where supposedly it’s spring every day, has been putting itself on the map this past year in terms of musical output. From South Acid Mimi Dance Team to Broken Thoughts, there’s something brewing down in the Yunnan hub that is getting folks excited. Ocean Walker, is the latest solo post rock band to raise eyebrows and garner attention. Headed by guitarist and audio engineer Li Yuchen (who’s also apart of Broken Thoughts) and released on Weary Bird Records, the band’s debut, Ten Worlds, is an intricately structured piece of post rock bliss, that’s ties in everything from jazz, math rock, ambient, and classical music to create a rewarding experience. It’s packed to the gills, but far from overstuffed. And while, the layers don’t always flow as fluidly as one could hope, the ambition and scope of the album is wonderful and in many ways reached. Very curious to see if the solo project blossoms into a full-fledged band in the near future. Check it out on bandcamp.

Shanghai alt folk outfit The Horde, whose blend of folk Americana with contemporary bluegrass, has made them one of the city’s most recognizable acts, and one that has barely managed to stay together due to Shanghai’s constant fluctuation of its expat community, have finally gotten around to releasing their sophomore (possibly final) album, Fahuazhen. Named after the road from where it’s members sprang from, the twelve-track album is a delightful, brisk, and most importantly fun capsulation of the band’s many talents, quirks and charms. From the tongue-in-cheek ‘Spring Roll’ to the breezy and starry-eyed ‘Valentina Zhou’, the band smartly keeps the pace rolling and everything upbeat. Dig into The Horde’s possibility last ever release on bandcamp and just try not to crack a smile.

For all you cauldron club junkies out there – Zaliva-D is here to lead the way and make sure you never see the light again. There’s something so down right evil and bewitching about the electronic duo’s music, it’s hard not to be sucked in. True Ancient is the latest mix of ‘oriental dark electronic music’ from Li Chao & Aisin-Gioro Yuan Jin, who one can only imagine are hooded throughout their sets to wide-eyed freaks of all ilk on the dancefloor. Their music comes frightening close to fetishism, a punchline for all those who saw ‘Blade’ one too many times, but who can complain when ‘ghost foam synthesizers’ are involved. Rip into it on bandcamp, including three remixes from Noise&Noise, Sulumi, and Supersimmetria.

Zhang Ling aka Big John, blues & jazz musician, vocalist, and songwriter, returns with his latest blues-soaked release, Drinking Blues. The former bassist of Cui Jian, one of the pioneering rock bands of the 80s, and former owner of the now defunct music venue CD Blues, hit it big in 2014, when he performed his single ‘Drinking Blues’ on national TV. That single, a classic Chinese take on the alcohol-fueled regret-bound blues staple, still works like gangbusters, but I’m more pleasantly surprised by the solid musicianship on the rest of the album, which puts Zhang Ling’s whiskey smooth voice front and driving bass lines front and center. Digging the band’s take on Chicago blues, soul, and jazz. The album is only in presale now and will include old premastered originals, but you can preview it over at xiami.

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