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Sample and the City: ‘Geosonics - A Love Letter’

Delf and polun bring Hong Kong’s urban geography to life

  • Mengzy
  • 10 January 2024
Sample and the City: ‘Geosonics - A Love Letter’

A collaboration between Hong Kong natives Delf and polun, ‘Geosonics - A Love Letter’ was released on December 22. Originally conceived as part of an editorial series with independent publication MAEKAN, ‘Geosonics’ sees the duo package the project as an album concept merging urban geographies with music.

At just eight minutes long, ‘Geosonics - A Love Letter’ contains a lot of information in a small package - and its title could not be more fitting. For anyone who lives or has lived in Hong Kong, the sonic geographies Delf and polun depict through their production are visceral and intensely familiar.

“We didn’t really plan anything,” Delf shared with Mixmag Asia via Whatsapp. “At the time, I was hanging out with a lot of street photographers and realised it might be cool to sample the city and create music. polun and I enjoy challenging traditional approaches to music-making, so we decided to strictly use the material we captured with a Zoom recorder during a one-day city walk.”

Afterwards, polun cut up the audio into a sample pack format and the pair worked for a week in the studio sonically recreating specific locations in Hong Kong. “For the music enthusiasts out there, all the kicks, percussion, risers, synths, and melodies are sounds from the recorder - no cheating!” says Delf.

Collaged and stitched together, the plethora of samples Delf and polun collected work together to (re)construct physical locations while maintaining an inherent musicality. Then, at given moments, the ambient textures shift into fully musical sections with the help of clever musical devices.

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In ‘香 Hong’, for example, sounds of an ice cream truck melody, a zebra crossing signal, and the chugging of a double-deck tram (among others) are layered into an evocative soundscape before pitching up into a slapping rhythmic finale.

The influences in ‘Geosonics’ are myriad. Hip hop, r'n'b, and soul come across, which comes as no surprise given Delf’s pedigree (he’s a favourite among Chinese rappers such as Higher Brothers), and there are even vaporwave influences, as heard on ‘油尖旺 Y.T.M.’

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What comes across most distinctly to us, however, is how artfully ‘Geosonics’ communicates Hong Kong’s multi-ethnic character. Multiple languages and music sources are heard through the samples, paying homage to local Chinese culture, imported Western culture, and even foreign domestic workers - a community that is often overlooked.

Listen to and purchase ‘Geosonics - A Love Letter’ here.

Mengzy is Mixmag Asia’s Music Culture Columnist, follow her on Instagram.

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