wed 22/05/2024

Album: Rui Ho - Lov3 & L1ght | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Rui Ho - Lov3 & L1ght

Album: Rui Ho - Lov3 & L1ght

Dayglo experimental pop from Chinese artist in Berlin

'It can feel like cramming yourself with brightly coloured sweets and energy drinks'

A new and very strange kind of pop music has bubbled up over the past half-decade plus.

It’s internationalist, rooted in both underground electronics and the most populist styles, bound up with playful but sometimes terrifying ultra high definition psychedelic aesthetics, and dominated by female and non-binary musicians. 

It’s given a platform to some of the most vivid and fascinating characters in music today, from Beijing’s 33EMYBW to Margate’s BABii, Washington DC’s Swan Meat to Montevideo’s Lila Tirando a Violeta, and most prominently Glaswegian SOPHIE and Caracas-via-Barcelona Arca. It’s crept into the mainstream, too, via various pop and rap acts, too, most consistently in Charli XCX’s recent lockdown album how i’m feeling now.

Into all this neatly slots Chinese expat in Berlin, Rui Ho. Her first few releases were instrumental: borderline industrial on Shanghai’s Genome 6.66Mbp label, and stunningly beautiful ambient on Planet Mu sister label Objects LTD, both incorporating traditional Chinese instrumentation into the sci-fi constructions. 

This album, on Planet Mu, feels on first listen like a radical shift from these – on it, Rui Ho has dived fully into pop, with zippy beats, highly synthetic sounding AutoTune vocals, and insistent hooks throughout. And that can be quite a jolt. The tempos rarely let up, the vocals are constant, and it can feel like cramming yourself with brightly coloured sweets and energy drinks.

But in fact, that jolt is part and parcel with her previous experimentalism. Underneath the hooks, the vivid expertise of the production is still there – every surface is sculpted, every texture crackling with imagination. And the pop elements themselves are bittersweet: puzzling, dancing around the future visions of the music.

Like the echoes of the past in her earlier work, this constantly brings a sense of the small and human into the depictions of a terrifyingly fast-moving, information-overloaded world. For all its catchy melody, this album is not easy going – that sense of all pervading sweetness and brightness can be overwhelming, even as it’s tempered with melancholy and strangeness – but it really rewards deeper listening.


The pop elements themselves are bittersweet: puzzling, dancing around the future visions of the music


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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