The reconciliation of otherness with individuality is at the heart of Eva Liu’s work as vocalist for the indie-rock trio Dama Scout and in her solo project mui zyu. In her debut EP as mui zyu, 2021 a wonderful thing vomits, the London-based artist took feelings of alienation into account when building an immersive dream world of shape-shifting soundscapes. Liu, who was born in Northern Ireland to a Hong Kong immigrant family, was more confrontational on Lady Scout’s debut album: Traversing the turbulent, psychedelic art rock of gen wo lai (come with me)he worked to heal by piecing together fragmented memories of his childhood.
muizyu Debut Album, Rotten bun for a century without an egg, slips between the fantasy of the mystical portal and the fragmented reality in search of self-acceptance. Liu delves into his Chinese heritage, emulating the eerie folklore of Qing dynasty writer Pu Songling and his uncanny ability to project the everyday into the realm of the supernatural. Imagining herself a lone warrior in search of liberation, she delivers a mutated version of bedroom pop: her yearning voice is wrapped in a cacophony of instrumental melodies, sultry synths, and bursts of fuzz. It’s a haunting world where feelings of cultural displacement manifest like demons.
A dense, tumultuous mix of twisted electronica and jarring keyboard melodies forms the bulk of the album’s arrangements. From time to time, Liu hides bits of his childhood in the mix: 8-bit synths reminiscent of video game soundtracks, and field recordings of Chinese restaurants buried in the background mimic the noise of living above the restaurant. his father’s. The abstract lyrics of mui zyu combine distorted dissonance with grotesque imagery. “We could cry blood in our eyes, we can’t breathe / We laughed so hard we could die,” she sings on “Dusty.” As her guitar melts away, she is caught somewhere between agonizing anguish and bliss.
Some of the most interesting mui zyu experiments are built on traditional Chinese instrumentation. On “Ghost With a Peach Skin,” a guzheng, a type of zither, is digitally distorted and bent into a danceable rhythm without losing its rich character, mimicking the transformative process of renewal. Liu uses the image of a peach, a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture despite the fruit’s fragility, to remind her of the trauma she must endure even in rebirth. Liu joined various local cultural groups as part of her exploration of her Hong Kong roots, and that sense of community emerges as revitalizing support in her fight against demons in “Demon 01.”
Repairing family relationships is critical to Rotten bun for a century without an eggThe drift between dimensions. The “Ho Bao Daan” interlude features her father reciting a recipe for Hong Kong’s titular egg dish before mui zyu returns to the otherworldly setting. The album’s most moving moment comes on “Mother’s Tongue”. Through shimmering dream-pop guitar licks, Liu sings, “I don’t need to forgive you for something you didn’t mean to do.” It’s her most direct statement here, her voice filled with empathic understanding as she relinquishes old resentments. She seems to recognize that love sometimes involves letting go, but leaving a path open for the return of the loved one. A voice note from her mother cuts through the tense air: “Eva, I’m so proud of you,” she praises herself, before being swallowed by the ambient swell.