Dusty blues rock from a musician’s musician out of Shijiazhuang, world music divines, music from the Yangtze rivers of Sichuan, and fat bass lines from a Shanghai producer, we continue to dig into some of 2016’s forgotten gems including the latest from Planet & Trees, Yunggiema, Yishi, and LinFeng.
Headed by the esteemed and infamous Cui Xudong – a prominent musician from Shijiazhuang whose time included playing with bands such as Omnipotent Youth Society’s processor Nico, Ruins, Soundtoy, and Wang Cai, brings his years of discipline and madness (he was often fired for his outrageous and unpredictable behavior) to full fruition on his latest band’s – Planets and Trees – debut There Is No Bird Garden 没有鸟的花园 – a dusty bluesy rock album that’s riff with soul and the spirit of rock and roll. Lyrically rich and backed by a trio of musicians at the top of their game (without needing to showboat one iota) it’s an album that feels so effortless and yet manages to hook you in with its charm, resurgence, and grace. An unexpected delight. Xiami/Douban
Yunggiema’s music, inherited from the Monba ethnic group, a minority group of China who emigrated from Bhutan to the Southeast region of Tibet over 300 years ago, has slowly risen through the ranks of the music world not only here in China but across the globe – from guest spots on Cui Jian’s latest release to a spot on Chinese Idol, she has stayed true to her roots. On The Lament for the World of Suffering:Sacred Land of the Lotus, she gives a voice to her ancestry whilst defining her own unique artistry. There’s not much else to say about Yunggiema’s exquisite voice – otherworldly and divine, it’s an instrument of its own and is the driving force on the six-track release, contemplated by lush sparse arrangements with light flourishes of contemporary beats, which respectfully allow her to do all the heavy lifting. 163.com/Xiami/Spotify
China’s diverse dialects continue to get a boast in the music world with Yishi – a folk band based on the dialect of Sichuan Yibin. Formed in 2010 in Zhuhai in Guangdong province by vet You Miao and teacher Lin Quan Hong, and featuring an extensive cast of musicans from just about everywhere in China, the band combines elements of just about everything – from reggae, blues, ska, jazz, folk, Chinese opera, and even the songs of local boatmen (hells yes). Their sophomore release Flow Cup Pool (a famous tablet in Yibin) is a beautifully transporting piece of work that’s avoids the hockey-ness and plasticity of many ethnic folk outfits. It’s warm, nurturing, and brimming with life. Xiami/Douban
Shanghai raised electronic music producer Linfeng brings a breezy funk filled chill out session on his EP Soft Smell, released late last summer. It’s laid back in the best sense – a sound vintage in both texture and approach – there’s a vibe emanating from the tracks laid bare here and it’s one that demands you to take things down a pace. With plenty of R&B soul, jazzy flair, and fat bass lines to soak in, Lin Feng has cooked up the perfect antidote to a lousy day at the races. Modesty never sounded so good. Bandcamp/Soundcloud