Taipei-based electronic producer Pon started out as a vocalist and synth player in Taiwanese indie-pop band The Shine & Shine & Shine & Shine, but since then her solo explorations under the alias Meuko! Meuko! have ventured off into increasingly experimental directions. Two years after the release of her debut album ‘Super Lo-Fi City’, this latest EP on Aisha Devi’s Danse Noire label ‘鬼島 Ghost Island’ offers up seven tracks informed by the sensory overload of Taiwan’s urban architecture and streetscapes, with hectic broken rhythms colliding with Mandarin Chinese and Japanese instrumental elements and whispered vocals.
More than anything, there’s a sense of constant restlessness and tension here that calls to mind the intensity and increasing social unrest lurking beneath Taiwan’s sheeny exterior as the country’s economy faces an uncertain future. ‘Metropolitan Sutra Gathering’ opens this EP with a swirling wash of looped chanting vocals, but it isn’t long before harsh machine gun-like breakbeats leap into the forefront of the mix, the entire track racing forward like a high speed train, the blaring background sounds seeming to blur together into a textural rush like some chaotic cityscape viewed through a passenger window.
‘The Temple’ meanwhile sees blaring Mandarin horn instrumentation looping against clattering percussion as jagged programmed rhythms lurch and twitch, an eerie wash of wordless vocals suddenly giving way to jagged bass drops and snare kicks as Pon’s spoken Mandarin lyrics amplify the sinister undertones.
Elsewhere, ‘Ghost Island’ (named after a popular Taiwanese youth slang term for their home country) takes a side trip out into jagged footwork as industrial snares slam against jittery handclap fills and rave-like stabbing synth bursts, before ‘Princess Sika’ ushers in walls of droning industrial noise and ghostly echoes of pressurised snares as Pon’s eerily childlike whispered vocals creep against pounding bass kicks and chaotically phased background textures, the wall of noise suddenly dropping away to reveal the sounds of field recorded frog calls. Impressive jagged stuff that sees Pon vividly evoking the sheer sensory overload of Taipei’s surging urban metropolis.