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SABIWA exhibits exploratory sound & vocal techniques in first release for Phantom Limb

‘Island no. 16 - Memories of Future Landscapes’ features nature-mimicking sounds from native Taiwanese tribes

  • Henry Cooper
  • 12 April 2023
SABIWA exhibits exploratory sound & vocal techniques in first release for Phantom Limb

Berlin-based Taiwanese artist SABIWA is set to release the four-track ‘Island no. 16 - Memories of Future Landscapes’ via Brighton’s Phantom Limb label. It will be available in both digital and limited pink cassette format on April 14.

Her background in classical and academic music is evident in the release’s deep and engaging musicality, often starting a track with her voice and nature-mimicking music from native Taiwanese tribes before processing and slicing source material beyond recognition. The project overflows with glitches and indistinguishable language alongside bass-heavy rhythms, dissected field recordings and experimental vocal techniques, making for a strange, eerie, yet comforting listening experience.

Elements from both natural and synthetic sources are recorded, produced and dissected before the sonic experimentalist works her magic on them. The layering of electronics, tribal sounds, field recordings and distorted vocals makes ‘Island no. 16 - Memories of Future Landscapes’ a demanding listen. The cryptic album title represents a future landscape in SABIWA's memories, with no gender, family, or DNA; humans adopting the life of insects, eventually evolving into butterflies and other forms.

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The four-tracker opens with ‘Pupa’ which features folkloric, high fantasy vocals culled from Taiwanese indigenous cultures. The track buzzes with distorted snare cracks and twinkling percussion, leading to a claustrophobic fever dream of murder-rhyme incantation. ‘Dog Smells Your Future’ speaks of “dogs living with new humans in the new order world”, where humanity has found the technology to understand animal thoughts.

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SABIWA also includes the voice of her uncle singing traditional Taiwanese folk melodies that were forbidden to be sung during Japanese colonisation. “I grew up in the countryside, in the south of Taiwan. People there took a lot of influence from our era of Japanese colonisation. I recorded my uncle singing one of the songs representing Taiwanese independence. It was forbidden to sing at the time.”

‘No. 16 Memories of Future Landscapes’ will be out on April 14. Pre-order here and listen to ‘Pupa’ below.

Henry Cooper is an Editorial Intern at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.

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