Yeah man, 2016 is when it all comes together. Going to make some changes and get back on track, you know? Maybe do that bicycle trip from Shanghai to Beijing. Maybe start Chinese lessons again. Just really make this year count-
Ahhhh who am I kidding, it’s only a few days into the new year and I’ve already given up hope.
Most likely 2016 will be another round of listening to non-stop Creedence Clearwater Revival, drinking alone, and making snarky comments about Yongkang Lu punters and Le Baron Euro trash. Dammit, Le Baron don’t shut me out. What I lack in bottle service orders I make up for in top-shelf news-feed banter and cordiality.
Lets start out 2016 with a fresh helping of dish, dish, and a double side of dish! Breaking news in the Shanghai music scene as long time Maybe Mars roster standouts Duck Fight Goose have jumped ship with the Beijing label and signed on with another Beijing label, Douban’s D-Force Records. Yesterday, I got a chance to hear an un-mixed version of their new album, recorded by Lv of JuJu Studios, and I can honestly say you’re in for a shock. Expect elements of krautrock, EBM, house, and everything psychedelic. That's coming out later this year. Along with DFG, D-Force has also snapped up Shanghai techno wunderkind MHP, who has an album that will drop sooner than that. He's already been up to Beijing to play the D-Force launch event in that city. Both Duck Fight Goose and MHP are playing D-Force Records 1st Birthday concert this Saturday at Yuyintang. Headlining the bill is Chengdu’s Stolen who released a well-received vinyl LP from D-Force last year and a new Hangzhou band making waves named Girls.
More Han Han stuff: The Duck Fight Goose lead singer is also getting back on the label game himself, with plans on resuscitating Mini-Less Records, his one-time platform for experimental and leftfield coming out in China. After releasing a slew of records in the '00s, they've been on sabbatical for about 5 years, while HH mostly concentrated on his own music and... working jobs that actually paid the rent. The Mini-Less releases this time around will focus on the experimental side of Shanghai, with first slated albums coming from synth cult leaders Peng Zhuang, A Wu formally of Banana Monkey, and Hei Mu from Non-Plus of Color. For a taste of Shanghai’s Mini-Less future, check out Friday’s Basement 6 show featuring L.O.B.I. playing alongside Hei Mu and Goooose.
Prediction time kids. Let's talk current and future trends for 2016:
1) So, I’ve seen around 10 new Shanghai bands in just the past couple weeks and one thing they've got in common is gear proliferation. Everything from custom guitar pedals, DIY noise makers, KAOS pads, modular synths, and more. The kids are piling up the hardware and thus I predict this year, Shanghai will finally start to see a more varied sound pallet than we used to, with the straight ahead guitar-based rock band stuff. Expect more genre bending, more open-eneded electronica/psychadelic music, and more blurring of the lines between "rock" and "electronic".
2) I predict EDM festivals will continue to devour this city’s youth with almost weekly massive events thrown in an epic battle of branding. That trend doesn't seem to be going away. Conversely, I predict that Shanghai will collectively realize that DJs are just playing other peoples music and start treating them accordingly (not really, but I wish).
3) Finally I predict DJ Cavia will admit he has The Clap and have to make 41 embarrassing phone calls.
Now, let's bring on everything that is D-Force!
Over the past year, D-Force have released 5 albums from artists Hua Zhou , Immune, J Fever & Soul Speak, Nara , and Stolen. It’s no surprise D-Force chose Stolen to headline their Shanghai B-Day concert as the label is clearly invested in the Chengdu band. They flew them out all the way to Taiwan to record the album “Loop” at the famous 112F Recording Studio. I was at the Beijing release for Stolen’s LP and it was clear D-Force spared no expense. Also, at this Saturday’s Yuyintang show, word on the street is D-Force has paid over 10,000rmb on the one-time visual installation from Dogma Labs. Stolen has captivated China’s underground scene much in the same way Snapline did when they arrived on the scene nearly a decade ago. Since it's looking like Snapline front man Chen XI is heading way out west to Seattle for a bit, this new darkwave from Sichuan arrives just in time.
Stolen – Suicidium Morbus
Girls are a band from Hangzhou, proving that the town is more than just a heaven on earth. Hangzhou is experiencing a mini explosion in underground music, with experimental and post rock bands leading the charge to carve out a piece of that West Lake dream. Girls take the infusing of electronic elements into their set to a whole new level, playing alongside techno producers and DJs; their recent New Year's Eve set in Hangzhou was accompanied by electro acts Ginzburg of VOID, Yung Sol, ESA, R.C.W. and more.
GIRLS - Live @ LINEOUT Bar (Hangzhou)
Born in Shanghai, MHP is one of those producers you love to love. For over 10 years MHP has been bringing Detroit-influenced techno and IDM, making all of Shanghai proud with his solid productions. You might have seen him play the many ANTIDOTE and VOID parties over the years, but more recently, MHP has been exploring his experimental side. 2015 saw the birth of an innovative and improvisational MHP who collaborated on multiple experimental projects at places like the Power Station Museum and the Chronus Art Center. I have no idea what to expect for the first D-Force release of MHP but hopefully his set on Saturday’s showcase concert will give some insight.
MHP – Live at Power Station Museum of Art (2015/10/1)
On a side note, MHP is currently on the Douban double vinyl LP “best of” compilation that features artists like AM444, Carsick Cars, Zalivia D, and about 30 other key Chinese groups. The double 12” is packaged in an over the top oversized heavy grade cardboard box that just so happens to be too big for a record crate. However the down side of this fancy LP is it’s not actually for sale and was released as a gift to China’s music elite. The cost and effort of putting out a compilation like this just goes to show how serious Douban is about moving into the physical release market place of China. I was lucky enough to get a couple copies so stop on by Uptown for a listening session with a free slice of bad advice and rants about things that never were served by yours truly.
Duck Fight Goose
Now for the great defectors. While still the go-to opening band for the best touring bands coming through Shanghai, these guys haven’t released any new material in a long-ass time. Since their former sound man / producer Brad Ferguson and his wife Cao Dieyu, who was the drummer for Duck Fight Goose, left a few years back the group has been in growing process of finding their new sound. This process has culminated in a 13 tracks opus that has taken over half a year in the studio making. Like I mentioned before, the new material is light years away from the last albums. Since nothing is ready for previewing, let’s take one last listen at “classic” Duck Fight Goose before the new formula is introduced Saturday.
Duck Fight Goose – History (Brad Ferguson Remix)
Before Saturday’s big D-Force Records birthday bash at Yuyintang make sure to check out L.O.B.I. at Basement 6 on Friday. The band features D-Force Records label boss Xu Bo along with Snapline vocalist Chen Xi. Supporting are Hei Mu from Non-Plus of Color and the main man himself Han Han performing his solo material under Goooose.