Chinese national rock filtered though the glory days of grunge, 80s synth meets witch house, angular new wave indie rock grooves, and a cosmic psychedelic free improve guitar trip – things get downright weird this week as we take a look at the latest earworms to invade the stratosphere here in Beijing and beyond, including debut releases from JaJaTao and Future Orients, as well as new works from Downstate and Li Jianhong.
Chinese opera and grunge collide in JaJaTao’s bombastic and menacing debut The Rite of Spring. The Beijing based outfit is truly one of a kind – a spirited twisted reflection on the ideology and aura of Chinese ‘national rock’. Paired with an array of traditional folk instruments and Liu Yucao’s theatrical snarl and growl of a voice, JaJaTao strike a new chord of absurdist rock and roll – a madhouse for which the band is able to find new meaning and language in rock and roll. It may not be for everyone but there’s something dangerously seductive about what JaJaTao has conjured up here. Bandcamp.
Beijing based free improv guitarist, and one of the experimental and avant-garde scene’s leading figures, Li Jianhong, returns with his latest cosmic jam, 1969, out on WV Sorcerer Productions out of Pairs. Recorded in 2008 in Hangzhou, it’s an immersive psychedelic audio experience whose lo-fi nature is just a Trojan horse for the intricate, beautifully rendered mayhem that emerges from the artist’s guitar (and collection of pedals and other toys). It’s the perfect score to a science fiction film from the silent era, albeit one whose filmstrip is slowly decaying or better yet, fossilizing before your very eyes. A trip indeed worth taking. Bandcamp.
Local Beijing label Maybe Mars struts their latest newly acquired indie rock contenders, Future Orients with their debut Eat Or Die. While British bands like Foals and Bloc Party are clear influences on the band’s sound, their ambition reaches even further, for better or worse. A mishmash upbeat math rock, new wave post punk, noise rock, and good old-fashioned post rock, Future Orients cram just about everything into their arsenal. And while on surface the LP appears to overstuffed, with more than half of the songs running over seven minutes, the truth is that’s their sensibilities are spread too thinly over the nine tracks, and in the process loses quite a bit of its bite. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the melodic precision the band employs – they know how to write a deliver a hook and grab your attention. Bandcamp.
Shanghai-based UK producer Downstate throws 80s synth soundtracks a modern facelift on the latest SVBKVLT release, Devil Worship You. It’s a gauzy ghostly trip of an EP, full of smoke screens and fluid weightless textures. And strip away the damp bass, trap trappings, and sprinkled on breakbeats, and you’re left with a bonafide 80s movie soundtrack gem. A John Hughes flick set hijacked by Nicolas Winding Refn. Cold, intricate electronica that’s get as much fun to dissect as it is to digest. Bandcamp.