- Abstract pop from Shanghai.
- Stella Chung is one of the most interesting artists to come out of the small but inspired Shanghai club scene, one often channeled through labels like SVBKVLT and Genome 6.66Mbp. She's a killer DJ, though her tracks veer away from the dance floor and look towards goth-tinged nocturnal synth pop. On her new EP for SVKBVLT, she's even more sombre than last year's debut on Eternal Dragonz. With co-production from Soda Plains and a voice that sounds both clarion and husky, Chung's songs on Aerial / Paperbags are freeform and open-ended, grabbing your attention with details that glint like chrome reflections in your peripheral vision.
"Terminal" is the most developed song, with an industrial waltz, bouts of orchestration and snippets of intelligible lyrics ("My travel ticket / Your voice messages," she sings). But the best element is the wordless vocalizations that float around the drum pattern, rounding off a track where everything perfectly hangs in suspension. It's a purposeful weightlessness that defines "Prologue," too, as Chung draws out syllables or clips them in odd places, like she's painting abstract art with words.
The title track is ghostly. Again, Chung depicts evocative, fragmented images ("Emotional layers," "A skyscraper / Hotels in morning") in hushed tones that dissipate into the air. Sometimes her songs are almost too dissolute—"Deux," for example, has a catchy melody that doesn't quite ride the rhythm—but at their best, Chung's tracks are sensual and eerie, like Bala Club gone downtempo. It's a great look at the under-the-radar eccentricity brewing in Shanghai.
04. Aerial / Paperbags