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Li Yilei shares personal, ambient LP centred around her childhood

'NONAGE' is a serene paradise with creativity at every turn, full of sounds from customised instruments

  • Henry Cooper
  • 8 March 2024
Li Yilei shares personal, ambient LP centred around her childhood

London-based Chinese composer and multi-instrumentalist Li Yilei returns to Métron Records with her second LP, ‘NONAGE’, available on vinyl.

‘NONAGE’ or “垂髫” translates to “childhood”, which is the central theme throughout. The ambient project reflects childhood, tied together with samples from Chinese TV shows, damaged children’s toys, music boxes and bird whistles.

She uses a wide variety of instruments, some of which were designed and built by Li themselves, including parasols with chimes, a conch shell transformed into a theremin and creative stringed instruments.

Each soundscape is a serene, calming journey through Li’s personal, abstract story. The project was initially conceived as an archiving project and evolved as it retraces memories through smell, location and colour, evoking feelings of love, despair, fear, fearlessness, curiosity and mistakes.

It’s hard to pick out a single track to focus on, as the project is best enjoyed as a full listen, but something about the closing track, ‘Thé Noir, Rêvasser, Retrouvailles', that sticks with you. Maybe it's the context of closing this project, but the strange, reversed-sounding, euphoric track is the perfect send-off to this emotional listen.

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Li spoke with Mixmag Asia about the project: “The first part of the album explores the more carefree and playful instances of early life. As the creative process unfolded, a multitude of nostalgic memories resurfaced, prompting me to ponder, Is there an emotion from our childhood that transcends race, gender, and upbringing and is universally shared?”

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She continues, “Trauma is the keyword that the second half of the album explores, with the intention of seeking reconciliation, mending, and growth. Recalling our nonage, I realised that it is important to recognise that perfection isn’t a prerequisite. It’s the imperfections and flaws that render it primal, vivid, and occasionally painful.”

Purchase Li Yilei’s NONAGE on here.

Henry Cooper is a Writer at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.

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