The DNA of Electronic Music

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Synth Heroes create mixes of their formative electronic music influences



Fragmented Senses

This month’s mix has been created by performance and sound artist, Li Yilei.

The 23-year-old artist’s musical journey began listening to Chinese folk cassettes and imported American pop music and, after initial failed attempts to form a band - sparked by an emerging enthusiasm for noise, psychedelic and avant-garde music - was led to solo exploration of electronic music and sound art practice.

Journeying from a fine art background to a place of greater fulfilment via musical composition and performance, Yilei wanted “to create a way of listening that is available for all senses, not only the ears. I hope my music communicates better than words. Sometimes words are futile.”

Yilei’s debut album, Unabled Form is released this month on LTR Records. It seeks the space and sounds that often go unnoticed, but to Li have been the source of much stimuli and have consequently made a huge impact on the artist’s evolution. “My music is composed of fragments and field recordings,” Yilei explains. “Anything from my environment can become material, from an acoustic recordings to conversations on public transport. I don’t purposely force the ideas into my work, everything kind of just flows naturally. I guess there’s a sense of transparency and lightness in my works, as well as an avoidance of form.”

For this mix, Yilei has chosen songs composed by East Asian musicians. Scroll down while you listen to read personal track notes.


0:00  Ryoji Ikeda: One Minute

Minimalist sine tones and noise by the iconic Japanese sound and visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda.

1:00  B6: The Cube (SV)

B6 is a Chinese artist working with electronic experimental music and visuals. With the beeping sound, a vocal-like enchanting pad emerges.

2:24 Mafmadmaf: Stanthesound - 二

Mafmadmaf, a Guangzhou based electronic musician working primarily with Serge modular. His minimalist work generates an atmospherical sound space.

5:06  Chung Han Yao: Untitled

An enchanting track made by Taiwanese artist Chung Han Yao. This track begins with a rich, heavy bass sound, followed by screeching string instruments, as if created through a sawing motion.

10:04 Meng Qi : Whale Child

Meng Qi is a Chinese artist active in the modular field. He is a synthesiser designer and musician, Meng Qi released "Voltage Memory" in 2015, the first Eurorack module from China.

13:30 Nara: Dream a Little Dream

An ambient piece with a evolving and melodic development. It is fun to listen to, and can brighten up your day in an instant.

18:35 Kiyoshi Mizutani, Hideaki Shimada & Kiyoharu Kuwayama: Chimere 1

Borne out of collaboration between a range of Japanese ambient electronic artists, sounds clash in harmony in Chimere 1.

28:48  Susumu Yokota: The Colour of Pomegranates

Susumu Yokota is an electronic musician who’s discography consists of ambient and electronic classics. This album ‘A boy and the tree’ is the first album of his that I have collected. It was one of my earliest influences when I got into the Japanese electronic music scene. This album is not as well-known as Yokota’s other albums, but it tells a story in a raw and tender way. This track in particular combines a touch of traditional Japanese instruments together with electronic tunes.

33:16  SUGAI KEN: Toshi Touge

Experimental electronic piece inviting you into the world of neo-japonica with traditional and modern sounds.

38:12 RMC: Zashiki Warashi

This is a track from one of my favourite albums Yokai Genso, translated from Japanese as ‘Monster Fantasy’. Tokihiko Morishita combines early elements of electronic music from the 70s with Japanese mythical folk and fairy tales. In 60s-70s Japan, the electronic music scene was filled with ambiguity and futurism, welcoming the avant-garde and organic.

41:36  Visible Cloaks, 尾島由郎 & 柴野さつき: Stratum

A tender, melodic ambient piece with whispers collaborated by a group of Japanese artists.

48:27  33EMYBW: Yama

Shanghai’s very own 33EMYBW pulls club music towards a different direction. 33EMYBW’s visually charged live sets and sound portray a futuristic and empowering image.

51:25 Gooooose: they exuviate (take 5)

Both 33EMYBW and Gooooose are artists under the label SVBKVLT, based in Shanghai.

57:07 LI YILEI: A Field of Social Tension

This is a track I made last year, and is included in my latest release UNABLED FORM. It is a improvised piece with live sampling and looping, creating and forming a field of social tension.