New Releases: Zhaoze, Dee, Zuriaake, Apparatus1


Epic post rock soundscape by way of guqin, drone music to lose yourself to, black metal to bring on the apocalypse, and experimental improv sessions with one of Beijing’s most mischievous characters, here’s the latest batch of new releases to roll up in including new cuts from Zhaoze, Zuriaake, Dee, and Apparatus1.

Ever since Ghost Bath pulled the rug out from countless critics in fabricating (or simply not confirming) their background, I\’ve been on the lookout for the next big black metal band in China. And I\’m happy to say Zuriaake has filled that void. The Shandong band’s true identity is clouded in mystery. They first emerged in 2005 and then immediately disappeared for half a decade (studying the dark arts in Germany – of course) before reemerging last year back under the wing Pest Productions. And ever since then, they’ve been knocking it out of the park. Now we\’ve got their first full length since their return, Gu Yan, and it’s a bloody black-tinted masterpiece. And while I overuse the word too much, there’s no other way to put it – this is some of the most cinematic music out there. Switching faultlessly from folk metal to blistering depressive black metal, this is soundtrack music to one’s fall from heaven into the gates of hell. Simply glorious stuff – brooding, over the top, and full of blood curling shirking. Pest Productions’ bandcamp got you covered boys and girls and did I mention the band makes a rare appearance this Friday, October 30th at Yugong Yishan.

Guangzhou post rock veterans Zhaoze (or Swamp) return with their latest album, Yesternight Yes Tonight. The band\’s signature guqin-infused sound receives a further facelift on their latest, with this being their first album recorded with an electric guqin. Partly recorded on a rooftop in Guangzhou, the album depicts seven different stories transpiring in the urban landscape. The concept is a inspiring one, and while the band is definitely pushing outwards, with the notable inclusion of lyrics, both in Cantonese and (not so convincing) English, as well as the use of strings and irregular beats, in many ways it sounds like the band is dialing it back, and taking the easy way out. There’s no denying the band knows what they\’re doing – wringing emotion out of a simple pluck of an instrument, out of a calm silence, finding transcendence in the most unlikely of places. And that guqin – it’s impossible not to feel its presence and power and be gripped by Hoyliang’s mastery of it. Yet, at the same time it feels like this is Zhaoze’s bid to attract a wider, more mainstream audience and while they pull it off seamlessly, I was hoping their latest would hit harder than it does. One of the best post rock albums of the year nevertheless, dig into it over on xiami and douban.

Adam Cah of The Other and the experimental label Bipolar Records heads back to his doom noise days with a new cassette off of Huashan Records under the guise Apparatus1. Simply entitled Apparatus1 – s/t , it’s a wet dream of noise and drones converging and ricocheting off of one another for seventeen minutes, seeping dread and tension every second of the way. Be hypnotized or see at the wall until your eyes start to bleed, the music is bizarrely soothing and draining all at once. An infinite spiral of meditative madness. And that’s just the first track (the rest of the tracks aren’t available for listen) – grab a cassette copy over at Huashan Record’s bandcamp and see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

The one-man sound shifter Dee (Sheng Di), a fixture of the experimental and electronic scene in Beijing, always creeping on the next new projects, has been a busy bee these past couple months, during a sabbatical back south. Up on his xiami page are Basement Flight, a collaboration with Beijing based artist Aming. An improv noise live recording (on a cell phone of all things) performance recorded at Inferno Club in Shanghai as well as one at DJ Luxx’s home studio on a rainy afternoon. The second recent release entitled summer sketch is a summer sampler from a performance at Xiangyang College. Deep cuts and a fine introduction to the strange, offbeat, and fascinating world of Dee (there’s also some other rare gems up there including a 2013 Mii improve collaboration with Melbourne outfit Stre4m). Experimental junkies get down with the business over at xiami.

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