Artist spotlight: The Shanghai Restoration Project

Miss Shanghai Close Up / Pudong New District
Babylon of the Orient

About a month ago, someone asked me what I thought were the best albums released this year and I actually stated that there were too many good releases to pick just two or three. However, when I sat down to begin making my list of best releases as the obligatory end of the year editorial, I skimmed the list and came up with basically nothing. Maybe that isn’t 100% correct, though. Maybe it’s just that as the year prorgressed, my musical tastes changed dramatically and looking back, the things that once impressed me immensely now just feel mediocre. At the beginning of the year I was still very heavily into rock, post hardcore, and acoustic indie like Letter Kills, The Receiving End of Sirens, and Death Cab. However, since the end of summer, my musical tastes have taken a sharp turn to the electronic, synth, and post-punk. Cut Copy, Junior Boys, Joy Division, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, The Changes, Venus Hum, Jesus & Mary Chain…these are the bands that have taken the heaviest rotations on my mix CDs and iRiver playlists. And of course, the Shanghai Resoration Project.

The Shanghai Resoration Project is headed by David Liang, and if you completely ignore his reason for producing this music, you will enjoy it. “There is a void of Chinese American music given all the recent political and commercial attention on China. My aim with this project is to capture and reflect that tension while introducing new sounds that result from the fusion of the two cultures.” If you look at the music that way, all you see is American hip-hop/electronic mixed in with stereotypical Chinese elements, such as ethnic lutes behind catcalls of “Just holler. C’mon and holler back,” which just makes David Liang seem like he honestly has no idea that modern electronic and hip hop is already being produced in China and they don’t need a foreigner to show them how to write what would have made an equally stereotypical soundtrack to Rush Hour 2.

But if you ignore all that and just appreciate the cultural backdrop set admist good electronic beats, then you end up with a phenomenal album, Reinterpretations, a likable candidate for the greatest 2006 release. “Miss Shanghai Close Up” is a beautiful serenish groove with light female vocals that invite you to sing a long to the “Lalas” as you play it at an obnoxious volume in your car. “Pudong New District” is another beautiful dance rhythm to compete with “Li Xun Revisited (Watch Me Dance)”’s own late night sound. Good shit, man.

And bcause I can work Ayumi Hamasaki into every blog entry this week, check out some of the Princess China Music Orchestra’s traditional, yet modern take on her tunes. They are an authentic Chinese musical group, by the way.

M / INSPIRE / ourselves

The Shanghai Project Official Site / Buy their albums
♫ Buy Ayumi Hamasaki Meets Princess China Orchestra

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