Something is happening in Shanghai. To be more precise, something has been happening for a while but things are becoming more organised. For the nine years that it was open The Shelter, literally an old bomb shelter, was the city’s locus for the full spectrum of electronic music in dark, grotty, underground spaces, from Dillinja to Palmistry, from DJ Lag to Shackleton. Then on the last day of 2016 for a reason as boring as an unextended lease, it shut, but the same team quickly opened a new nightclub, ALL.
ALL is more flashy, bigger, more professional-looking. It’s ultimately not the same as The Shelter but new happenings are coming at a rapid pace. The artists and labels coalescing around the venue are in the process of concocting some original club music.
Hyph11e and her debut EP, Vanishing Cinema, released November 10, is very much in the midst of this; she’s a part of the Genome6.66Mbp family, responsible for releases by RUI HO and Wa?ste, and its released on the SVBKVLT label, run by the founder of The Shelter and ALL. There’s a remix from Shanghai-based, industrial producer Tzusing, plus the eerie artwork is supplied by artist and DJ Wang Newone, herself a stalwart of ALL.
Brash, metallic, and club-focused, Vanishing Cinema epitomises the sound of the city right now. The music has a tangible sense of speed and forward-motion, much like the large southern Chinese municipality.. In ‘Speak to Me呓语,’ featured here on AQNB, sounds of thrashing hydraulics, rain and cawing birds are layered onto a foundation of bleeps and drums, creating an apocalyptic feeling: a future of deluge and machines. Dystopia is also designed in ‘Black Pepper炎’, which makes heavy use of a vocal samples looped into a repetitive chant, like the soundtrack to some kind of war dance.
As well as the Tzusing remix, Kid Antoine and M.E.S.H. also provide reinterpretations, locating the EP within a group of young producers – typified by labels like NON, Bala Club and NAAFI – who are creating fresh, anxiety-laden and direct club music, shared through their global online networks. Less a tight outfit proud of its organic rise in a single location than a loose group of internet-based artists trying to smash borders. Hyph11e’s new EP shows that she’s leading this subset of the Shanghai music scene.**