Xi’an’s Endless White has over the years become one of the shoegaze scene’s spotlight bands. They make good on the hype with their exceptional debut. Named after the novel Asleep by Japanese author Yoshimoto Banana, the album plays with the idea of lonely souls bewitched by spiritual sleep. An apt metaphor for depression, Endless White’s music, led by the wispy vocals of singer Zhang Wanyi, feels in many ways like an inescapable daydream – one that’s full of jangly guitar work and sublime walls of sound that engulfs you. Nevertheless, the quartet manages to inject rays of light as the album unfolds, with the band particularly brimming with life by the closing track ‘Hit By Me’. Shoegaze with abundances of emotional heft, Endless White have a winner on their hands here.
Chen Xi, frontman of the influential post-punk trio Snapline, is back with long-awaited debut of his solo project Late Troubles. Worked on in the new resides of Chen Xi’s new stomping grounds of Washington state in the US, Moon People is a strange beast – a synth-soaked, minimalistic, ukulele-inflicted lyrically tender collage of tangled ideas and emotions that’s all over the spectrum. At one moment Chen Xi is crooning over a synth-beat tailor-made for KTV, the next heralding into more sinister electronic territory. Chen Xi’s vocals and lyrics, sung entirely in Chinese, are the album’s greatest strength – intensely sincere in some instances, and perplexingly offbeat in others. Beneath the ever-shifting clouds, there’s an underlying sweetness to what Late Troubles has to say.
The Hangzhou music producer – a graduate of the China Academy of Art, presents his latest work on the forward-thinking Play Rec label out of Shanghai. Emerging from the artist’s study of ‘synth timbre and vocal sounds processing’ is a kinetic, musically fruitful ride that’s the equivalent of a carnival rolling through a club late at night. Aesthetically, it’s loads of fun, full of blaring horns synths and high-pitched chirps. But the way Mice ties it all together is downright infectious, like a Nintendo soundtrack finding its way into a beachside club. Never overstuffed but constantly engaging, there’s an offbeat sensibility to Mice’s sound that easy to fall in line with.