NEW INDIE POP: SWIMFUL - DOVE FEATURING PALMISTRY
West meets East in Shanghai producer Swimful’s infectious Chinese-influenced digital dancehall of “Dove” featuring Palmistry.
China is a powerful, influential nation, of that there is no denying. Despite all of their industrial influence and military might, however, China’s cultural impact packs a bit less of a punch. In the wake of the Communist Revolution of 1949, placing the Chinese Communist Party in power, art was intended to serve the glory of the state, as in the case of Communist Russia. While China has not been purely Communist in some time, Chinese art is still being pressured to adhere to China’s socialist agenda under current president Xi Jinping, who encourages Chinese artists to make sure their art is “ideologically pure before sending it out into the world,” as reported by The New York Times. This imbalanced give-and-take means that while much of China is heavily impacted by the West, the same can’t be said of China’s influence on the west.
SWIMFUL FEAT. PALMISTRY - DOVE
That is starting to change, however, thanks to an emerging vanguard of talented, forward-looking artists of which Swimful is one of the best.
“Dove” is the newest single from Swimful on Gaz Williams’ SVBKVLT imprint. Also a highly successful club night in Shanghai, SVBKVLT’s been exporting some of China’s most cutting-edge underground electronica since 2013. Swimful’s been one of SVBKVLT’s most accomplished cultural ambassadors to date, with a slew of well-received albums of futuristic grime pop. “Dove” is fit to take Swimful even further into the stratosphere, working with hermetic London producer Palmistry for a highly satisfying chunk of vapor-funk.
“Dove” is striking in how little it sounds like traditional Chinese music. Whereas certain purvesters of Eastern electronica play with Chinese tropes and stereotypes, most notably Chinese-American future pop beatsmith Fatima Al Qadiri, you won’t find any harps, gongs, misty mountaintops or traditional dragons on “Dove.” Instead, “Dove” is a fizzy-lifting slab of euphoric post-digital R&B, thanks mostly to Palmistry’s smooth dancehall vocals. While a certain case could be made for lamenting the loss of regional sounds and dialects, there is a more optimistic, utopian thread to “Dove.” It is telling that an underground label and club night out of Shanghai doesn’t sound that dissimilar to club pop coming out of South Chicago, or Port Au Prince for that matter.
Dance music has always been about transcending boundaries, borders, and restrictions. It’s hard to point out differences in the mad particle accelerator of the dancefloor, and techno’s always been about transcending the flesh, anyway, even while embracing hedonism and fleshly excess. Early electronica innovators might’ve been a little tasteless, when first becoming addicted to the endless possibilities of sampling and synthesis, but 21st Century electronic music has been eliminating those transgressions. Listening to “Dove,” it seems possible to celebrate the individual as well as explore universal human themes - the things that bring us together. We here at We Are: The Guard couldn’t be more thrilled - this is pop electronica as pop philosophy. Better living through drum machines and bubble samples, creating real love and interest for every culture on this spinning blue marble.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.