Asian music and culture in general is often portrayed in a singular image, and Chinabot, a collective platform of digital diaspora and network of Asian artists try to change that stereotype by presenting a collection of exciting Asian music in an album called “Phantom Force”. We are presented with 21 tracks from 16 different artists from various countries across Asia who bring their own take of their countries’ traditional music with a modern arrangement like we have never heard before. We are hit with such streams of experimental electronic hook from the first track “Mati Rasa” which comes from Indonesian act named “Tembok Kamar Dinding Sekolah”. It might be unfamiliar to some who never enjoyed an experimental electronic tune, but nonetheless it is attention grabbing and the track reminds us of electrocution.
It is continued with a track called “Kimura” by Dagshenma and being a Japanese native makes the song has this Japanese influence combined with electro music. He experiments with various of robotic sounds with an underlying tune of this Nippon influenced melodies. “Gaut” by Faux is one of our favorite from the album as it brings traditional hip hop beats with the fusion of traditional folk song. On similar tone, there is also “Docki Dong” by “T4CKY” which shows that nursery rhymes could be arranged with electronic music and thus creating a whole new vibe for the song.
“Gamelan Angklung” brings that Indonesian traditional instruments up front and “Temple Song” by Tampuan Community literally depicts that song that is often chimed by the monks and pious people at the temple. “竹林” by Liujiachi, “Untitled” by Vacacamp, “解體概要” by Xanthe Yang, and “lapetus” by Stabilo all bring this mysterious and haunting vibe and they present a hollow sound that makes the songs feel unreal. There are also uplifting and rather melodious tracks which still have the same experimental vibe like “Dehumanize You” by DJ Logitech and “Butterfly Spy” by Sonia Calico. Broken machine sounds and intergalactic also becomes the source of inspiration for some of the musicians in this album. “Sati” by Tengger brings synth-loaded ethereal psychedelic tunes that encourage us to dream and it becomes one of our fave from this compilation. Besides these artists, “Phantom Force” also feature anonymous musicians who perform folk and traditional songs from Asia. The purpose of the album is loud and clear and we love the fact that this collective are trying something new instead of giving us that stereotypical Asian music that Westerns often generalize.
“By continuing the dehumanization of Asians onscreen and in popular culture, it dehumanizes us in real life. Racism against Asians is not only ignored, but often accepted, unacknowledged or even encouraged. We want to break silences, which are often also encouraged our own culture, in order to push the public to take a closer look at racial inequality towards Asians”, explain Chinabot in a press release. The movement of people in this global era has made us fuse two different cultural elements and this kind of hybrid especially in music, is highly encouraged by this collective and they will keep exploring, experimenting, and evolving the music landscape. Hopefully on their next release, the collective will embrace more parts of Asia and continue to discover unheard musicians with enormous talents. The compilation album will be available on its digital and physical format on 5 June 2017 and 100 copies of cassette tapes are ready to be distributed via Chinabot. The album is mastered by Justin Randel and features design by Saphy Vong. Listen to the preview of “Phantom Force” below and grab your copy here.