During a quarter-life crisis last year, I spontaneously decided to book a trip to Malaysia to visit a high-school friend completing an internship there. Next thing I knew, I was standing alone under a small tarp in an orangutan sanctuary in Sarawak waiting for a rainstorm to pass. As I was alone and as I was waiting, I really noticed/absorbed my surroundings: the sights, the smells, and the sounds.
The sounds were especially noticeable what with the array of wildlife and insects that thrived in the humid, tropical environment. They were sounds that I thought I would only experience while stranded in an orangutan sanctuary in Malaysia. But I am in the midst of a cold and windy Danish winter and here I am experiencing those same sounds again thanks to the Shanghai Restoration Project.
With samples including everything from Malaysian rainforest insects and the sounds of outer space to China’s omnipresent in-store marketing chants and household items — I am sure I even heard the sounds of a rooster on one of the tracks — Shanghai Restoration Project’s synth lines could have easily come across as chaotic. However, their music and message is clear and stimulating rather than convoluted and tiring.
Shanghai Restoration Project Provides Social Commentaries in the Form of Good Music
Their new LP R.U.R. was released on December 1 and features singles such as “Spooky Party” and “Alpha Go,” the latter of which you can listen to below.
Everyone who wants to change the world has their own way of doing so. For Dave Liang and Sun Yunfan, that way is through music. Together, they are an electronic duo from Brooklyn who form the Shanghai Restoration Project and produce “music with a brain” that is a reaction to current events and a social commentary on the world as it is now.
When talking about the new album the duo says, “Inspired by a combination of current events and technological breakthroughs, R.U.R. imagines a future in which humans have been replaced by artificial intelligence. To capture this dissonance between the natural and artificial, our production choices include detuned analog instruments paired with human vocals, polyrhythms comprised of body percussion and plant pots, and samples ranging from rainforest insects to outer space sounds. Hopefully, these choices make our album resonate better with listeners.”