New Music, formerly Yin (é³, “music”), is a monthly RADII column that examines Chinese songs from hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between.
It’s Halloween, and that means one thing! Scary music. Alas, we only have one release this month that we could truly call spooky music, but the thematic and stormy nature of the tracks we listened to in October isn’t to beat.
This month has been a great month for new tracks, from the indie rock band Nouvelle from Guangzhou to the orchestral majesty of Fishdoll’s latest tracks.
Also, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of SoundCheck, where hip hop podcast host Wes Chen the park, and Bryan Grogan, talk about their favorite songs of the month.
News – “Baby, don’t be too nice”
Guangzhou-based group Nouvelle has been making great music for a few years now. After signing with Beijing indie label Maybe Mars over a year ago, they’ve been working on new tracks.
“Baby, Don’t Be Too Sweet” is the band’s second single this month, after “Activist,” and has a particularly indie twee sensibility about it. The band has always reminded a bit of bands like The Cribs and others from the 2000s, and that’s captured here in the singing style Wu Jiawei uses on this track.
TRIAL – Anthem of lies
This new version of Ruby Eyes Records is totally absorbing. Beijing-based group SWARRM has been around for a few years at this point, founded around 2017, and has made an impression in the city’s underground rock venues with their swirling experimental instrumental rock music.
Anthem of lies is the band’s second album, and the nine tracks featured here represent a journey. The dark, gloomy and sometimes frustrating sounds that echo from tracks like âParkâ and âSilenceâ are intimidating but confident.
Rainbow Chan – “Idols”
Chinese-Australian musician Rainbow Chan teams up with pan-Asian label Eastern margins for his new track, “Idols”. With layered, resonant vocals against a catchy drum beat and swirling sound effects, the song is deeply personal, dealing with love and family.
The track is the first of Chan’s upcoming EP, Stanley, which will further explore Chan’s impressions of family dynamics, while examining his memories of Hong Kong. If this trail is something to do, we’re excited.
Vladimirs – “Graffiti Theater”
Another new band from Maybe Mars, but a little more mysterious than Nouvelle. Vladimirs released a pair of singles this year, each of which can be purchased on Netease Music or streamed for free on the the label’s Bandcamp page.
While both are great grainy trails, it’s unclear who is behind the group. Many guessed that it was Yang Haisong from iconic rock band PK14 performing, but, alas, we’re still not sure. We hope for a more extended release this year, and maybe we will discover the identity of the mysterious members of the group.
Yikii – Crimson poem
We are extremely involved in Yikii’s musical journey. His latest album, Crimson poem, is a dark and intense summary of his style, combining layered vocals (like the first Grimes) with eerie and oppressive soundscapes.
Drawing inspiration from horror video games and Japanese culture, Yikii has released a LOT of them in recent years, most notably with Shanghai label Genome 6.66 MBP. This album was rightly presented by Pitchfork earlier this month, scoring 7.7. Listen to him; it’s scary, aesthetically very pleasing, and full of frightening auditory images.
Fayzz – LINK
This is the debut album from the young band from Chengdu Fayzz and does a fantastic job of showing what the band is all about. Mixing the complex rhythms of math rock with the stormy atmospheres of post rock, LINK is a journey.
It’s also fun, opening up with the audio of a group of friends playing Street Fighter V. But it’s the deepest, most nostalgic moments that stay with you, as the group takes us on a journey through the concrete jungle of Chengdu, blazing paths and forging new ones.
Kafe.Hu and DEN – “Gotya”
Kafe.Hu has had a big year. After finishing in the top five in Chinese rap, his star has exploded among music fans across China. He also released his track âç»æµè±â, which translates to âEconomy Class,â which for many was their introduction to the musician.
Now he’s back with a new track titled “Gotya”, a relaxed jazzy affair that relishes the lushness of this style of music. It’s not available on western streaming sites right now, but if you’re in China, you can find it on QQ Music now.
Fish doll – sense of the moon
One of China’s most exciting musicians today, Fishdoll, returns in November with her latest album, sense of the moon. However, the first two tracks on the record are currently available on his Bandcamp page, and they are gorgeous.
“K’un” is a mind-boggling orchestral track with the characteristics of an introspective and eerie Disney soundtrack, with Fishdoll lightly layering the vocals above the strings and keys moving the song along. “Remember It’s Just a Dream” is also orchestral, but the inclusion of more vocals and synths makes it a more jazz track.
Jiafeng – “AI NI AI DAO”
If you know Jiafeng’s music, you know he likes to play with expectations. This is exactly what he does on his new track, “AI NI AI DAO”, paving the way for a variety of musical genres to create an intense collage of sounds.
On the Bandcamp page for this song he gives us a suggested terminology for this music, calling it “deconstructed pop”. Still, it feels like a deep exploration of hyper or experimental pop, as it sculpts elements like punk, screamo, and electronics and accentuates them beautifully.
QQBBG and Kelvin T – IA-CORE
Two of Hong Kong’s most fascinating experimental electronic musicians team up here for their latest release on the Shanghai-based Genome 6.66 MBP label, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary.
The first two tracks of the disc are intense. On “QQDBT”, Laujan and Jason Cheung of famous Hong Kong band David Boring join the pair, while SVBKVLT Osheyack remix “No.1 Sweetheart”. The rest of the album features guest appearances from fellow Hong Kong producers Alexmalism and ASJ and Shanghai-based cloud rapper Billionhappy.
Cover image compiled by Sabina Islas