Beijing-based Alpine Decline Release "Life's a Gasp" on Maybe Mars Records
Alpine Decline's seventh full-length album is a love/hate letter to their adopted home
Alpine Decline's seventh full-length album is a love/hate letter to their adopted home, the band's deepest trip yet into Beijing's dankest corners. "It's the price you pay to feel alive" they say early on ("Dying to Be Here") as they speed through four vinyl sides of sonic future shock, crushing & cruising psychedelic jangle that simultaneously zips light as air and smothers like smog too thick to see. It's their cautionary postcard to friends back in their native Los Angeles. ("It's the price you pay for something to say.") They prove once again that there's beauty in the bleak processes of progress that color this city every shade of gray ("Wasteland Repeated"), in the twisted metal rat race of Beijing gridlock ("Mistake on the Capitol Expressway"), in the poisoned food and bogus booze ("220/110 Burnout Blues"). Life's a Gasp is a rending confessional, stuck halfway between the Temple of Heaven and hell on earth ("Aftertaste of Gold"). It's a coda for a new beginning, an artifact of vintage psych-burnout ennui crash-landed in a shimmering, gauzy craft of unknown origin.
The sound of Life's a Gasp zooms in from another world. Gone is the band's previous obsession with disintegrating tape delay, replaced by a blinking, thinking modular synthesis dashboard. The album's synthetic, ethereal thrum is held to the ground by a solid bass turn from legendary Beijing artist Yang Haisong, leader of veteran post-punk band PK14 and tireless promoter/producer of an entire rising generation of Chinese art rockers. As a trio, Alpine Decline will release Life's a Gasp far and wide across China, cycling through, once again, the bitter and the sweet, the transcendent and the recidivist, the slow-burning enlightenment one gets staring at the sun through cancerous weather. Life's a Gasp and then you die, repeat.
Alpine Decline is a guitar+drums duo that relocated from Los Angeles to Beijing in 2010, attracted by the city's brimming underground music scene. The band's sound touches the nostalgic sweet spot for fans of psych, shoegaze, noise rock and '90s indie, without sounding too much like any of those. Their 2016 album Life's a Gasp was recorded with longtime band confidante and producer Yang Haisong (PK14) joining on bass, conceived from its inception as a collaborative studio and live performance project.
Over the last few years, Alpine Decline has spawned a side project (under the same name), in which the core duo explores sound design/destruction via their ever-growing Eurorack modular synth system. Performing live as a duo on nothing besides their humming, haunting synths, Alpine Decline explores a totally different sonic terrain, swapping melody and beat for a deep-scrub gray matter massage better experienced while seated.
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