Shanghai, famed for its historic decadence and futuristic landscape, has always been a fertile crucible for the new and emergent. Over the last few years, the city has been building a fierce global reputation as an international hub for quality, underground electronic music.
Local label SVBKVLT can take no small slice of the credit. They’ve been organizing some of the city’s best parties and putting out quality release after quality release, thanks to a stellar roster of young, innovative, exposure-hungry artists.
Their latest offering, however, Kai Luen’s “The Hollow Ghost” – is very much a Beijing record. It’s music for a landscape drowning in PM 2.5 – all grey skies and low visibility. It’s a ten-track exploration of “decay, destruction, rebuilding and change”, a delightfully disorientating melding of grime, electronica and hip-hop.
The title-track is dark, moody and drenched in attitude. Distorted vocals float over an asphyxiating trap beat as sharp synths stab menacingly at the listener’s consciousness.
“The Hollow Ghost” is a wonderfully bleak, strikingly distressing homage to a city of notoriety, via a label based in a city of increasing musical fame. It’s Shanghai commenting on Beijing, and Shanghai finding dark resonance in its sister megacity up north.
Despite its inherent gloom, it is sure to lighten up an already glowing scene.
Find the album on Bandcamp.