Late last month EDM artist DJ Sun released his latest full-length album Qingxi. The album, the Houston, Texas-based DJ’s second official full-length album, is one of 2016’s most intriguing EDM offerings. That is because in examining the seven-song collection it proves to be more a concept record than a stereotypical EDM record. In other words it is not one of those records that a person can just put on and take in casually. Rather, it is a record into which listeners absolutely must immerse themselves if they are to fully appreciate its content. As a matter of fact, DJ Sun intentionally set up the album in such fashion that it would tell a story. That story is one part of what makes this record such a surprisingly interesting EDM offering. The compositions that make up the body of the record work hand in hand with the story, making them just as important to the record’s presentation as the record’s central story. The sequencing of the songs rounds out the record’s most important elements. The sequencing of the songs is especially important here being that the story is told wholly through music and sans lyrics. Altogether, all three elements make this record one more of the biggest surprises of the EDM community so far this year.
DJ Sun’s new album Qingxi is one of the biggest surprises of the EDM community so far this year. The main reason for this is that it is of at all what one thinks of when one thinks of the term EDM. As a matter of fact it could be argued that the seven-song album is the EDM community’s version of a concept record because it actually presents a full story over the course of its sixty-three minutes. The story is based on actual events, too. It centers on a figure named Soon Sam Sin, who is one of DJ Sun’s Chinese ancestors. As the story goes, Soon Sam Sin left China in 1858 and eventually made his way to Suriname, South America by way of Macau , eventually ending up an indentured servant in there before eventually earning his freedom. In researching Soon Sam Sin’s journey DJ Sun and photographer Jasmine Lee Richardson embarked on a 10-day trip to research Soon Sam Sin’s life and his journey in more depth. The end result is this record. Each “chapter” of DJ Sun’s journey is outlined in full inside the album’s cover, thus making each chapter all the easier to grasp and appreciate. In essence DJ Sun’s own journey of discovery and that of Soon Sam Sin together make the album’s story feel like something right out of Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are. Keeping this in mind the story/concept behind Qingxi forms a solid foundation on which the rest of the album’s elements rest. It is just one important part of the album’s presentation. The album’s musical content works in direct connection with the album’s story to show even more clearly why this record stands out in the EDM community.
The two-part story that lies at the center of Qingxi forms a solid foundation for the album. That is thanks in large part to the fact that what DJ Sun has done here is something that has rarely if ever been done within the EDM community. What’s more, the documentary style vibe that the story presents thanks to DJ Sun’s own journey makes the story even more engaging. That is especially thanks to the notes presented inside the album’s front cover. As important as all of this is to the album’s presentation it is not the only important part of its presentation. The songs that make up the body of the album are just as important to the album’s presentation as its story. Just like the album’s concept is anything but the stereotypical EDM foundation so is the album’s musical approach anything but standard EDM. If anything DJ Sun’s approach is more akin to something that Trent Reznor might craft than any of the major name EDM artists. Yes, there’s some standard EDM sounds such as in the album’s opener. But even in that case the sound isn’t the typical overpowering sound with keyboards, auto tuning and other elements. Rather it’s more of an ambient sound for lack of better wording. The same applies to ‘Bees’ and ‘Chaos.’ Though, ‘Chaos’ presents more of a hip-hop base than EDM, again setting this album’s musical arrangements even farther from their counterparts from other artists and acts within the EDM community. It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical content serves to make this record stand out both as an EDM offering and as an album in general. There are plenty of other examples that can be cited. And they will be left to listeners to discover for themselves. Those examples, together with the songs noted here, work together with the album’s two-part story to show even more clearly why Qingxi stands out. Even with both its story and musical foundation taken into account they are still not the album’s only notable elements. The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.
The presentation of DJ Sun’s new album and its musical foundation are both key parts of its presentation. Both elements show in their own way what makes this record stand out within the EDM community. Even as important as they are to the album’s presentation they are not its only key elements. Its sequencing is just as important as its story and the story’s musical foundation. In regards to the album’s sequencing listeners will appreciate the close attention to detail in the album’s musical progression. The progression feels so natural from one song to the next right from the album’s two-part opener (It is just one of the three songs included in this album that actually feature two parts versus one) to its final composition. The familiar EDM sound of the album’s first two (technically three) songs moves with ease into the more hip-hop oriented sound of ‘Chaos.’ The transition back to a more EDM-centered sound in ‘War,’ ‘Chaos’’ counterpart, is just as natural. In other words it feels as if the songs move fluidly from one to the next without feeling like it’s all one continuous song, either. I.E. it’s quite well-balanced. Much the same can be said of the album’s remaining songs. That being the case, listeners will find themselves fully engaged and immersed into Qingxi, not even realizing that more than an hour has passed by the time the story ends. That is a tribute to those responsible for the album’s sequencing. It solidifies the album’s presentation, proving once and for all why Qingxi is, again, one of the most interesting of this year’s new EDM albums.
DJ Sun’s new album Qingxi is an album unlike any other within the EDM community this year. That is a very good thing for this standout record, too. Listening through the course of its sixty-three minute run time this is obvious in so many ways beginning with its general presentation. Put simply it is not just another EDM record. Rather it could be argued that having a specific, almost documentary style story at its center, it could be considered to be the EDM community’s take on a concept record. The musical foundation on which that story rests is just as important to note. There is a number of standard EDM style compositions over the course of the record’s hour-plus run time. But, there are also some other compositions that break that mold. The sequencing of those compositions feels entirely organic from beginning to end. The result of that feel is a record and story that will keep listeners completely engaged right to its end. In being so naturally engaged, listeners will agree that again, this record is one of the most interesting EDM albums of 2016. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Qingxi is available online now along with all of DJ Sun’s latest news at:
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