Echo Park 回声公园 – Summer Lax 夏天的病
While Guangzhou and the much of the coast of southern China have frequently engaged in the wistful, jangle-swirling coastal sounds of city-pop, surf rock, and angst-ridden shoegaze, I don’t think anyone’s done it with as much spunk and rock and roll swagger as Echo Park, the newest member to the ever-growing indie scene in Guangzhou. Utilizing everything to 90s grunge-era effects to sugarcoated synths, they wrap their indie pop with a devilish charm and noise rock exterior that feels alive and hints at a band that would play like gangbusters on stage. They’re got the chops, and hit the pavement running though you can hear the sea just off in the distance – what more could you ask for in a debut.
Li Daiguo 李带菓 – Bird Call 鸟叫
Dali-based multi-instrumentalist and one of the experimental scene’s rays of light for over a decade, Li Daiguo returns with his latest deconstructing of music, ‘Bird Call’ – a collection of pieces that hone in on Li’s delicate and articulate compositions on a prepared piano, finding haunting elegance and hypnotic tranquility within the repetition and acoustic timbres of the keys (you can particularly hear the frame, pins, and strings vibrating). And while there are some subtle electronic effects and atmospheric textures, the beauty of the album lies within its patience and minimalism, the air that hums between the chords, turning some of the tracks in mesmerizing, emotionally churning soundtracks to ghostly vignettes (the album could easily act as a calling card to movie directors out there). As always with Li Daiguo, its captivating, challenging, and utterly its own thing.
Ritual Day 施教日 – Weak Light of Silence 光之三部曲
One of the things that sticks out about Beijing-based black metal band Ritual Day is their ability to find the rustic and rugged spirit of between light and dark and weaponize it for emotional depth. From the acoustic bookends, to the band’s almost classic metal sound that leans into the folk without fully committing to it, they manage to find the epic arc within the genre, turning each track into a scorching take on the myths and stories that have been passed down for thousands of years (don’t be surprised if you’re reminded of the scores of Spaghetti Westerns and Shaw Brothers classics). It’s music that marches into the depths on hell, waving its flag proudly and with reverence and honor, paying tribute to the soldiers that have fallen before them while charging full steam ahead with aplomb.