“Is the end of the world a nightmare or a sweet dream?” asks Yikii, in relation to her forthcoming Crimson Poem 深紅之詩’ album release—out October 1 via Danse Noire—and the eerie audio-visual world she’s developed around it. Debuting her new single and music video ‘Noctambulist 梦行者’ today through AQNB, the Changchun-based multidisciplinary artist unites her music, paintings, and poetry under one aesthetic banner.
‘Noctambulist 梦行者’ is as a disorienting affair where strained instrumentation and distant weeping accentuate Yikii’s eerie stanzas. In her quest to find horror in the ordinary, empty swing sets and forest floors are imbued with an unshakeable sense of dread. After subtle swells of tension, the piece erupts into terror as Yikii’s eyelids flutter above a face wrapped in film, the agony rises as fish carcasses are examined, and her art begins to burn. There are brief respites from the turmoil, but the audiovisual ends in a blaze when Yikii peers through a pile of crumbling ashes while she reflects, “I am in the fear of the vacuum, pushed to the edge”. It’s the stuff made of nightmares, giving a glimpse into the surreal aesthetics of Yikii’s forthcoming Crimson Poem 深紅之詩 as a whole.
**’Noctambulist 梦行者’ feels reminiscent of a nightmare. With the sensation of the dreamt world in mind, is the single more reflective of the subconscious mind than the conscious mind?
Yikii: As the title says, it is a sleeptalking-like piece that floats in the air, with unconscious mind flows advancing the world in the video. The world in the nameless horror is like a dream that lost its thread of story. The dream has its own logic of language, and I gradually become addicted to it. I broke up many poems I had written in the past to fill in the images and read poems throughout the song; there is no part of me reading poems in the official music release.
The reality of the outside world is wavering, and like dreams it can be infinitely closer to hallucination in the midst of chaos. “A vast scary hole in the ground exposed. A vacuum in the universe, a fallen shelter, a prison of freedom, a devastated world that exists only in my own eyes …” But is the end of the world a nightmare or a sweet dream? This is really hard to define.
**On the topic of dreams and nightmares, do you have a recent dream you’d like to share?
Y: From the memo (my diary):
07/08/21 Running through a strange park filled with giant metal tubes high-rising from the ground, the passing trees blazing fiercely, the sky darkening and dusk approaching. There were countless tiny pieces of ice floating in the air. I waved my fingers, they turned into mist and rain, cracked land grew clusters of shimmering jewel flowers.
**What inspired the direction of the “Noctambulist 夢行者” music video? There seems to be an element of horror that accentuates the song’s tension.
Y: Filming some of life’s material from my own perspective, such as fish carcasses, specially treated stews, unsatisfactory paintings of mine I burned, scrap motors, film wrapped around my face, reeds in the water, an empty train, a swing swaying alone on a blizzard night… These things are ordinary, but when they are connected to each other in a strange way, they become uncomfortably abnormal. Alienation, disorientation…and a fascinating sense of horror.
**Considering the “Noctambulist 夢行者” audio and music video, how would you say your artistic mediums overlap and inform one another? I know there’s a performance of you reading poems over backing music, interspersed with drawn visuals, which really stimulates all of the artistic senses.
Y: Using different artistic mediums to express similar content is a natural blend from all dimensions, and the most valuable part of their combination is that it will make my whole world more aesthetically unified in time and space. It is a fluid and interesting process, not suppressing each other or devouring any kind of inspiration. Each art form has its own strengths, but trying to bring out the perfect in any one art form takes considerable time to sculpt the details and consistent study and practice to do it better, multiple art forms often mean devoting doubled energy to them.
**How does ‘Noctambulist 夢行者’ fit into Crimson Poem 深紅之詩? Can you describe the world you’ve built through the single and album as a whole?
Y: It was almost a year and a half ago when I first became fascinated with microtonal music. I figured out some simple ways to adjust the cents and play them on a regular MIDI keyboard, so this song was born in the drizzle of a midnight. What reflects and shines mutually, the whole album is the slightly morbid, weird and elegantly acoustic instruments. Standing alone on a deserted street in the dark of night, I was greeted by countless strong black thorns dropping from the sky, while only the frosty moonlight watched over it all.
**Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Y: The full version of the poem as it appears in the video.
Desolate mounds and dry grass
Vertical rock wall
Cutting off order and bondage
A freer world?
The dull grey sun shines high over the puddles
Particular forms with Abnormal color
Flooding into endless solitude
In the utter sorrow
More sincerity and purity are destroyed
Confusion and manic sin
Choking and breaking out of its shell
The center of the ground sinks deep
Exposed is the vast scary hole
Spiraling downward in a daze that calling me
The emptiness of everything converge here
The resonance of detachment is played in unison
Letting myself fall into this emptiness
Then all the pain can be offset
There is no shelter in this world
Blue skies and complete darkness overlap
Short and long
Like the dreams that keep repeating
Drifting towards the depths of the gray sky
My time stands still
A world of great change and devastation
Forgotten sounds and pictures seep into the vacuum
On the last day of September
Scrap and transparent snow
Haul in the turbine of light
I am in the fear of the vacuum
Pushed to the edge
Pushed into dead silence