Yikii — „Crimson Poem“ (Oct. 1, 2021)
• Na svém dosud nejúplněji realizovaném albu naservíruje tato plodná čínská umělkyně úchvatnou směs hrůzy a krásy, která se jí v podstatě zdá vlastní.
Location: Changchun, China
Album release: Oct. 1, 2021
Record Label: Danse Noire
01. –47 °C 2:43
02. Disillusionment 破滅 3:41
03. Phantasmagoria! 千燈幻景 4:36
04. Afterimage In Ruin 廢墟残像 3:12
05. Five Layers of Crimson Snow 五重絳雪 4:11
06. Doll’s Synaesthesia 人偶的通感 3:31
07. Noctambulist 夢行者 3:42
08. Heart Halo 心之光晕 6:08
09. Liminal Space 虛與實 4:00
10. Scavenger’s Daughter 清道夫之女 3:16
11. Glass Drumsticks 玻璃鼓槌 3:40
12. Two Moons 戼 3:44
• Mastered by Rashad Becker
• Photography by Yikii, design by Niels Wehrspann
by Joshua Minsoo Kim ⌊ Oct. 11, 2021 ⌋ Score: 7.7
• Since 2017, the prolific Chinese artist Yikii has been releasing albums that have become increasingly robust and difficult to pin down. Initial records like ❀ [no pain] and Gentle Nightmare were sketch~like, with curious dabbles into glitch, ambient, industrial pop, and various beat~driven ephemera. 2019’s Flower’s Grave, released on the inimitable Shanghai label Genome 6.66Mbp, proved a breakthrough: Yikii tastefully employed post~club collage aesthetics to create a gothic spectacle. Crimson Poem is her most fully~realized album since, and it serves up an enthralling blend of dread and beauty that feels quintessentially her own.
• There are comparisons that can be made: the chilling, ethereal bliss of ’80s Japanese acts like Pale Cocoon, the electronic~pop madness of Hanayo’s Gift, the queasy compositions of Danse Noire labelmate bod. None feel exact, though, one reason being Crimson Poem’s use of microtonality. The string~laden opener, “–47 °C,” gives a taste for how it’s implemented to instill terror, but it’s not until “Noctambulist” that it becomes overwhelming. Crooked piano melodies and the faint sound of crying open the track, and then it all tumbles into a whirlwind of noise that arrives like a locust swarm. There’s simultaneous decorum in the strings, and this juxtaposition between stately and sour moods makes everything feel uneasy, like the music’s always on the precipice of being pleasant without ever reaching it.
• Given that her compositional strategy involves engaging the listener with drawn out moments of suspense, it’s apt that Yikii cites horror video games like Fatal Frame as an influence. On the shapeshifting “Phantasmagoria!,” a series of brash synth stabs unexpectedly appears, and she forces you to feel the resulting anxiety, as if a monster’s started chasing you down an empty corridor. Even when the track moves into mellower territories, there’s a continual sense of uncertainty for what’ll come next, and this ambient, creeping anxiety keeps Crimson Poem exciting even in its repetitious moments. “Scavenger’s Daughter,” for example, is a ceaseless barrage of cycling electronics, but the periodic inclusion of an unrelenting beat ensures the threat of violence never dissipates.
• Most crucial to Yikii’s music is her voice. Her simple melodies, child~like coos, and talk~singing are inspired by nursery rhymes, and her songs can sometimes feel like they’re being sung by a demon~possessed child. “Doll’s Synaesthesia” showcases that best, as music~box melodies bolster the song’s kindergarten~creepy aura. Like the sudden presence of a voice in a horror game, Yikii’s singing can immediately trigger panic. While the strings and piano on “Liminal Space” already sound ghastly on their own, hearing her reverberating vocals makes the track macabre, as if she’s an empty soul whimpering from the grave.
• The problem with “dark” or “scary” music is that it’s often too content to begin and end with a haunted mood. More raucous styles, on the other hand, can rely too heavily on jump~scare tactics or feel soulless in their dependence on sound design. Yikii is the rare artist who can channel apprehension in a manner that isn’t gimmicky, mainly due to the variety of styles used. “Five Layers of Crimson Snow” mixes traditional instruments and synthesized vocals to create a beguiling digital eeriness. “Every day is a dull routine,” she explains, singing of a malaise familiar to anyone who’s ever walked this earth. She clarifies further: “Dead bodies and sadness everywhere.” Throughout Crimson Poem, Yikii activates your fight~or~flight response, reminding you that nothing is more human than having fear rattle your bones. On the carnivalesque “Disillusionment,” she sums up our collective experience with a wish: “I just want less pain/I’m afraid.”