One of the richest surprises in the Chinese electronic scene this year has been the debut from Wuhan-based producer Night Swimmer who dropped his self-titled LP last month – a vibrant deeply realized piece of work that finds the perfect fusion in retro dance synths, traditional Chinese instrumentation, and 90s Hong Kong movie soundtracks, with traces of synthwave, vapourwave, darkwave, 8-bit, and even world music filling in the gaps. It’s a melding of eastern and western aesthetics – a cheeky, ethereal atmosphere that owes as much to Nicolas Jarr and Michael Cretu as it does to Dou Wei and Future Islands creating a deep world of sound that’s utterly intoxicating to get lost in.
Following up on Gooooose’s DONG1 release last year, Merrie Records returns with their second installment of the project which ‘dives into the sonic dimension of Dong culture (an ethnic minority in southern China), exploring different perspectives and methods of presenting ethnic minority folk music within a 21st-century context’. While the framework here is anthropological there’s no denying the producer’s high-wire, adrenaline pumping, aesthetically captivating production which finds the dance floor mojo embedded deep within the Dong minority chorus, distorting the samples and essentially spinning them into a new yarn. Preserving the culture for a brave new world via ‘arthropod moves in an ethereal, rhythmic sound ritual’.
Left-field IDM at it’s purest with renowned sound artist and electronic musician (as well computer bug programmer) Wang Changcun, from Hangzhou, and this delightfully strange and acute release off of Shanghai’s Playrec label. A 90s SEGA-era video game score on speed, a call-center service that’s on the fritz, there’s a mischievous edge to the high-pitched twists and turns within Changcun’s architectural sound that manages to stimulate the nerve fibers on both halves of the brain. There is indeed beauty within the logic and sequencing of the producer’s sound palace that’s a blast to explore.