Rainbow Chan's new experimental LP Pillar is a homecoming for the Hong Kong-born, Sydney-based artist. Not as in her arrival to a place, but a celebration of culture and identity.
Pillar is the songwriter and producer's second album after 2016's Spacings. As her debut, Spacings felt coherent. It was commanding in its pop presence and kinetic in its digital beats. Singles like "Work" had all the 'tude of empowerment and the hallmarks of a dancefloor banger. On the other hand, Pillar is pointy and jumbled. Tracks like "CSR" deliver a brash and glitchy beat. "For a Long Time" is an impatient ballad, with Chan's smooth vocals sparring with its drum and bass ticks. There's minimal, vocoder hymn "A Horizon", and "Lull" stops and starts as a sporadic techno-rave. However, it's this volatility that makes Pillar a thrilling album.
What's more, Chan spent time between albums traveling to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. The musician says Pillar captures the experience of this movement and change. "These ten songs were written amongst a constellation of languages, times, locations and lives," she says. "Further exploring my East-Asian heritage with songs flowing effortlessly between English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Weitou (Cantonese dialect), as a way to de-centre the Eurocentricity of language in pop music".
It goes without saying, that life isn't singular. Nor is it coherent. Likewise, Pillar doesn't promise any of those things. Instead, it shows Chan in full-colour as a multi-disciplinary, genre-bending songwriter. As such, the album finds the artist at home and in-flux, with no-holds-barred.