New Releases: The Sad Sack, Chunyang Yao, Kafe Hu, GaiWaEr


As I’ll be checking out Chengdu this weekend, I figured we’d do a special edition of reviews for artists who’ll be performing in Chengdu this next week including Yunnan drone artist Chunyang Yao, street, Sichuanese rapper Kafe Hu, garage punk outfit The Sad Sack, and hardcore grou GaiWaEr – all of whom have dropped new releases this past year. Enjoy!

Chengdu punk garage outfit The Sad Sack, who formed in 2010, returned this summer with a new EP in tow, Lonely Boy, and contrary to the EP’s title, it’s a wickedly fun acid punk record that’s doesn\’t mess around. Straight up, ‘strap yourself in’ punk music that gives its lyrics and melodies room to breathe all the while maintaining a rowdy, playful spirit. Loose and focused – a hard balance to hit and yet they make it seem effortless. A pleasant discovery in diverse pool of punk here in China. Get it over at douban.

Lijiang composer and electronic musician Chunyang Yao who incorporates everything from electronic noise techniques to the music of her ethnic group, the Naxi, to create what she describes as ‘sound collage and drone’. She brings this to stunning life on her debut Shining Cracks, where using an analog synthesizer combined with field recordings of nature and daily life, as well as her own voice. Inspired by an Emil Cioran: “The moments of refinement conceal a death-principle: nothing is more fragile than subtlety,” the album shifts back and forth between more collage-centric mashups where chaos reigns to drawn out drone heavy pieces that haunt, intrigue, and mesmerize – it’s a bleak and beauty all at once and a must buy for noise artists of all ilk. Bandcamp and xiami.

Chengdu based rapper Kafe Hu lays it all down for his larger than life release, the LP 27:The Code of Lucifer. Following the trend of many contemporary rappers here in China, Kafe Hu digs deep into the well of jazz, soul, and funk to offer us a buoyant, superfly journey through the psychosis of the uncouth, witty, and gravelly voiced driven artist. And while the nineteen tracks are become a bit redundant and become equally overstuffed and too stripped down, there’s bite here. Even if it’s buried under the flashy, sultry jazz-flavored production, featuring the pitch perfect backing vocals of Credit Card, and the devilish appeal of Kafe Hu himself. Grab it over on xiami, douban, itunes, and spotify.

For a good dosage of hardcore anthems, then look no further than Chengdu outfit GaiWaEr, who go straight for the jugular and don’t let go. After their debut EP, Back to the Streets, dropped in early 2016, the band has continued releasing single after single, including this recent two-track collaboration with Chengdu ‘New School Punk’ veterans Ma Mingfei and Liang Zhichao, who help on a H20 cover and an original entitled ‘Youth of Generation’. No gimmicks – just murderous guitar riffs and gut-barreling anthems to get your blood boiling – what more could you ask for. Dig into it all over at xiami.

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