- Nathan Yoder
Recommended Listening: Li Yilei - 之 / OF
Li Yilei, a London-based sound, performance, and instillation artist, had already begun work on 之 / OF when the pandemic started to ramp up in early 2020. Like other migrant artists living abroad with Visas set to expire, Li left in a hurry, intending to quarantine in a Shanghai hotel til things cooled down. It was a time of abrupt and unexpected transitions, and for Li, this context caused their relationship with time to warp. 之 / OF began to change shape too, as Li's interest in horology and an awareness of the close tie between emotion and environment combined to influence their approach. The resulting album is a collection of sonic poems which are, like the work's title, prepositional. They are parts of a whole, incomplete sentences. They are acoustic explorations centered around the curious relationships we each have with time and our close surroundings.
Li Yilei, photo provided by Goodchild PR and Métron Records.
On 之 / OF, Li Yilei uses synths, stringed instruments, vocal samples, and field recordings to create pieces which range in landscape from vast to claustrophobic, and fluidly mood swing between joyous and dread-laden. Though the album is heavily shaped by present-day circumstances, Li also found great inspiration in the traditions of the Song Dynasty, specifically their visual art themes of flowers and birds. Many tracks feature birdsong, and Li reminds us that although we were home-bound for a spell last year, natural forces never stopped affecting us deeply. Hear an advance song below, and though you may have missed the pre-order option which included a handmade xun flute (!!!), you can still purchase the album through Métron Records' Bandcamp page linked here. 之 / OF will be released fully on August 16th.