Our featured picks this week - dreamy synth yearning from W.Y. Huang , a woozy beat trip from MZA, and psychedelic indie from Maneloren!
Alone Again / TWIN
With his deconstructed electronica traversing obtuse vocal manipulations, lute-adjacent synthetica and otherworldly strains of abstract beatwork, W. Y. Huang’s past work under his name presented a fractured vision of Asian futurism – a vision demonstrated plentifully on 2019’s Crossing The Great Water. But on Alone Again, a track dating back to his days just before his move to New York, his view turns from the otherworldly to the vulnerable internal. Here, his traces of his former cosmic experiments distill themselves into intimate synth-pop balladry – reflecting on regrets on former loves and faded connections, Huang finds homes for these thoughts upon a washed-out backdrop, as cavernous snares and plastic picking smear themselves upon gently pulsating synths.
Listen to "Alone Again" here:
- by JX Soo
"Eldritch Terror (Prelude)"
Eldritch Terror (Prelude) / Where Are The Fruits
Indicative of music to come, Eldritch Terror (Prelude) sees underground producer and DJ MZA of Yen Disco summoning woozy textures and idiosyncratic sampling over steady downtempo beats. The result is a hypnotic, kaleidoscopic listening experience. Here, its densely layered beatwork is deceivingly simple – as hazy yet concise textures mesh with sparse key work and eccentric sax samples, MZA anchors its sum with a skittering groove. With its bass synths, steady kicks and snares set alongside intricate hi-hat patterns, Eldritch Terror (Prelude) finds a keen kinetic energy that also recognises the power of dynamics – captivatingly alternating between holding back and letting loose. Together, they form a unique sonic take on the mystery and bewilderment that accompanies the track’s Lovecroftian namesake.
Listen to Eldritch Terror (Prelude) here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
A one-man project by guitarist Norman Lee, Maneloren’s third single Spiralling embarks on an indie rock path adjacent to Singaporean contemporaries Bakers In Space, with its Foals-influenced brand of lush synth-driven indie rock bringing about a good handful of solid ideas, especially on its explosive bridge sections. At times, the track’s production finds a sweet spot that emphasises its driving fuzzy grooves and delay-laden psychedelic guitar work, allowing Spiralling to truly soar at moments. There’s a keen attention to detail, be it on the subtle harmonies, textured synths, or rousing backing vocals embellishing it – small things that do help to raise Spiralling’s enjoyability. But although an impressive feat of DIY indie rock songwriting and production, Maneloren’s first single unfortunately squanders its potential with its lacklustre vocal performance.
On their own, Spiralling’s lyrics are passable at best, painting vague strokes of human crisis and the state of the world. But paired with Lee’s awkward delivery (“We wake up to the mediiia”) the sum is cringe-inducing – with his falsetto rendering the performance unfortunately stilted. The combination potentially could have worked if sung with more conviction or perhaps layered with some vocal modulation, but unfortunately, the song seems without edge as a whole. Despite Spiralling’s commendable psychedelic aesthetic, at no point does it feel as compelling or captivating as its sonic stylings make it out to be. What it has in steady technical understanding and application of Lee’s influences, it lacks in overall intent. There’s a whole lot to like about this song – but it’s a shame there’s a whole lot that doesn’t quite hit the mark too.
Listen to "Spiralling” here:
- - by Isaac Yackem