Asian Audio: Three great emerging Asian artists to keep on your radar!
Having made a name for herself with the punchy electro pop singles on her 'One BeyonD' EP, Tokyo's Doul dips into a new melancholic 90s aesthetic on her latest single 'My Mr.Right'. She has a self confessed love for 80s and 90s music and after using many of the electronic 80s influences in her previous work she has drenched the new release in a darker Grunge tone. Often foreign replications of Western musical aesthetics can come across formulaic and cliched as if the artist has just been tracing over their favourite songs. However, Doul manages to capture the labored sunken-eyed atmosphere of the time so authentically.
Her vocals carry an American twang and are delivered with a dreary dark swagger throughout the verses while the instrumentals all have a slow melancholia to them. They are fuzzy and relatively repetitive, as if they are being dragged behind Doul herself as she stumbles slowly slurring words into the mic. The chorus opens up a slightly brighter sound as her vocals provide a bittersweet melody that keeps giving you hints that it might spark a more lively energy but never fulfilling that promise. That may sound like a critique but in this case it is fully purposeful and serves to reflect the lackluster lifestyle that encapsulated the Grunge aesthetic. The second verse sees her vocals become a bit more direct and give off Skater Punk vibes similar to another fantastic female Asian artist beabadoobee. Although her style tends to vary, she is certainly one to keep tabs on and find out what she does next!
Thai quintet Rosalyn lean on a dreamier sonic palette that Doul. Their biggest track 'Loverfriend' is one that drifts and sways, blending smooth electronic swells with a high-pitched vocal line that tangles itself into the sound without ever disturbing the tranquil atmosphere. They say themselves that they write heartfelt tracks that take your mind through a journey of deep introspection. This is certainly true of their new track 'The Deja Vu'.
The lyrics "If its quite alright just tell me how I can change your mind" and "send a message I can't receive just to tease me" explore themes of internal indecision and fractured communication and are sung with a smooth yet honest tone. The instrumentals enforce these themes really nicely with the drums and thick bass line building a steady groove and the sporadic keyboard sounds adding a subtle contemplative atmosphere. Although the track is still filled with a dreamy energy, these instrumentals also give 'The Deja Vu' a more direct and catchy backdrop than 'Loverfriend' create a hypnotic feel that emphasises the theme of the title and lyrics. The vocals are slick and wash off the beat in a smooth style reminiscent of Tame Impala and continue to grow on you so that by the end of the song you feel fully enthralled in the dream-pop groove.
Little known Kazakhstani outfit Lady Gadiva sprung out of the traps this year with an early single followed by their 'A.R.T' EP last month. The EP sees them dig into the bare bones of Rock music focusing on fierce percussive energy and big riffs mixed with powerful angsty vocals. The opening track 'Alright' is really dense sonically with two vocal lines, one melodic and one aggressive, constantly competing for space in the chorus. It is a simple yet hard hitting track that opens the EP with a rockstar arrogance and leaves a little room for a Queen esc solo along the way.
'Rumors' feels more Blues influenced with its gravelly Southern US swing. The vocals are more central to this track as they are delivered at a faster pace and land with a punchier tone. The vocals are probably what make Lady Godiva distinctive. All their chorus' have this multi-layered vocal so that it feels as though the whole band are singing as one. It is a common trick but it gives the tracks a really full sound that is packed with character.
The EP ends with 'Theif', their most instrumentally intricate. All elements play off each other really crisply with the early riff switching between a funky Red Hot Chilli Peppers esc style to one that matches the vocal rhythm. The track shows off their technical prowess as it switches between different sections with ease, providing a seamless instrumental variety that closes the EP with a final assurance that these guys aren't all style no substance - they have the ability to match the Rock and Roll spirit.