China's club scene is booming. From Beijing to Chengdu, clubs are opening every night of the week. Yet as electronic music is still a relatively new, imported culture, China is playing catch-up: glossy super-clubs playing EDM take up the majority of the scene, and DJ MAG Top 100 lists are overly obsessed with. That is why it is so refreshing to find albums like Hugo's <Rhapsodias>, which invites the listeners for a night out to the local underground scene tucked away in the nooks of his hometown, Shanghai.
Across 12 bleak productions, Hugo delivers industrial, gritty, imposing atmospheres that can set the entire warehouse to vibrate. One of the highlight tracks on the album, "Ground Control," will without a doubt get your pulses racing with its immense low end built by layers of grainy basslines. Fueled up with more rousing motifs and unnerving synth lines, this cut is an absolute stormer. "Technowledge," on the other hand, is bringing us horror-fueled nastiness with its mischievous synth chops and thumping percussions. The minimal aesthetic here is drenched in digital allure, only appropriate for the darkest warehouse. "Listomania" sets the brooding foundation with its grungy melody from the beginning. Edgy synths and futuristic atmospheric sounds work in tandem to deliver undistilled euphoria.
We encourage you to listen to the rest of the album to get a taste of techno coming from the far east. More importantly, <Rhapsodias> kicks off the INSOMNIA chapter of Monti Ark, the Chinese artist collective of young artist visionaries. These phases are a youth lifestyle narrative that encompasses EP and album projects, a fashion line, a tour, and documentary series, and their grassroots street support has swelled in recent months. With this album, Hugo offers us a rare glimpse of the potentials of Chinese nightlife‘s future - one where the fledgling imported culture finds its way to develop into a movement in a country that censors a fair share of entertainment.
Stream/buy the album here.