Tzusing - 東方不敗

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  • Since he emerged in 2014, Tzusing's style of techno, tough and tactile, has differed from the grungy lo-fi with which L.I.E.S. is associated. Though the Malaysian-Chinese producer's music is loud and authoritative, he eschews the noise that defines some of his labelmates' music. On his first album, 東方不敗—named after a character, Dongfang Bubai, in a Jin Yong novel—industrial and EBM is the name of the game. Incorporating ideas from a vast array of artists across those genres, Tzusing's debut album feels both hulking and nimble. Nine Inch Nails comes to mind on the incredible opener "日出東方 唯我不敗," whose vibrating steel strings and drum onslaught call back to 1999's The Fragile. "日出東方 唯我不敗"'s tottering percussion and otherworldly instrumentation would be a breath of fresh air in any techno set. Sprightly rhythms are offset by unsteady melodies—some sound like woodwinds, others like synth patches—that bend and decay, a combination that underlines the record's engaging mix of futurism and exoticism. While the album is heavy on melody, 東方不敗's real hooks are in its percussion. The metallic drums on "King Of Hosts" sound like chain links rattling in the wind. "Esther" is like a Downwards record beefed up by a marching band. Powerful hand drums that could have come from a Chinese orchestra are the focal point on "Post-Soviet Models." The record's other major highlight is "Nature Is Not Created In The Image Of Man's Compassion," a lurching number that highlights the topsy-turvy dimension of Tzusing's music. The eerie vocals resemble industrial, while the detuned bassline points and resonant screeches in the backdrop point to some old horror film. In a recent interview with RBMA, Tzusing recounted the story of Dongfang Bubai, who hunts after the secrets of being a swordsman contained in a scroll, which instructs the practitioner to castrate himself to learn the art. Giving up power and masculinity to gain other powers appealed to Tzusing, who seems to have taken it to heart for his debut album: this is techno that is pummelling and fierce, but never burly or macho. It's as agile as the aspiring swordsman who inspired it.
  • Tracklist
      01. 日出東方 唯我不敗 02. Digital Properties 03. Esther 04. King Of Hosts 05. Nature Is Not Created In The Image Of Man's Compassion 06. Post-Soviet Models 07. Torque Pulsations