“之 / OF is a word that can be used as a preposition to express the relationship between a part and a whole. It is an unfinished tone, a broken sentence, a start and a whole. It is sustainable, full of potentials and longings.”
Li Yilei‘s COVID experience is one that will ring true for all too many migrants. Living in London, they faced the sudden expiration of their Visa, and made a mad dash home, making one of the last few flights to Shanghai, arriving for a two week quarantine stay.
The gender non-conforming artist had already begun work on what would become OF, their new album, the reality of both their situation and the pandemic at large began to creep into, then deeply impact, their recordings. A press release elaborates, “Each of the 12 tracks is a study in horology, using metaphorical sound transcriptions and atmospheric extractions to focus on the temporal relationship between experience and surroundings.“
Li themselves puts it more directly: “I tried to portray each song as a short, scattered poem – a moment that I captured to represent each hour.“
What resulted is an elaborate, gorgeous representation of a pained passage of time. Composed with a brilliant mixture of synthesizers, field recordings, vocal samples, and string instruments, it’s as layered as it is immediate. It drifts between the psychedelic and the surreal to the starkly naturalistic.
Today they share the songs “CHU / 處” and “HUO / 惑”, the latter being a Bandcamp exclusive currently. Check out both below.
之 / OF is out August 16th via Métron Records. You can find Li Yilei on Twitter and Instagram.