Monday, November 12th, 2018

Nguyễn Trọng Tài x San Ji x Double X – HongKong1

A Vietnamese trio heads to China…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Befitting of hypnagogic rewatches of ’90s Wong Kar-wai films, “HongKong1” is imbued with the dim flicker of neon lights and the soft hues of pastel lighting. The synth arpeggio sounds frustratingly cheap, but this is otherwise admirable for its overall pleasantness.

Juan F. Carruyo: Jazzy chords underscore the very affecting melody, which is just five notes or so, yet it never develops, giving the song a cyclical nature. The soft and understated synthesizers give the song a slightly icy feel but the singer displays enough vulnerability to make this track a truly arresting one. 

Iris Xie: These styles of gentle, rocking songs always are so interesting to me, because they’re way more focused on sublimating the listener into a specific moment of time, like if you touched a totem in order to access your nostalgia. I like this one, but not so much as a song, but more as a mood, due how much of the song seems to escape to the ether with its extremely pared down sound, especially when compared to other songs with similar vibes. But still, it is a mild one that you’d sing at karaoke towards the end of the evening, with circulating lights cascading down on you and your totally drunk friends. It is also a song best fit for drinking a crisp, light beer and looking out to the ocean, with your shirt clinging to your back due to the summer humidity. Inoffensive and light.

Will Adams: Vies for lush but can’t overcome its foundation of guitar presets and out of the box drums.

Jonathan Bradley: The chilled soft-rock could be Dan Bejar as easily as any of his 1980s antecedents, though the styrofoam drum machine breaks the mood somewhat.

Iain Mew: The Hong Kong that inspired this song, with its 20 million views and assortment of cover versions, isn’t the Hong Kong of now. It’s not even the real Hong Kong of the past, but the cinema Hong Kong of the ’90s (including, but possibly not limited to, sad Stephen Chow love stories). Perhaps that’s why it feels like a comedown flip of Mondo Grosso’s “Labyrinth,” which had present day Hong Kong for the site of the perfect video to its mixed ambivalence and electric possibility. “HongKong1” is a remove further on from that, possibility and action and blood drained out, a potent moment of preserved bittersweetness that has grown fuller with age.

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