Calling themselves a "sound-based oscillator duo," the members of Soviet Pop shape electrical currents into pulsating anti-hits. Androgynous soul mates Li Qing and Li Weisi formed the band in Beijing in 2009 and began to gradually amass their own collection of vintage analog equipment, modeling themselves after post-punk heroes like The Normal and Einstürzende Neubauten.
There are few bands in China that are on Soviet Pop's level. In all likelihood they’re the only two people in the country able to operate their primary instrument, a 1970s modular synthesizer comprised of six shimmering panels of dials and patch bays. At times the two Lis use this secret weapon to construct monophonic melodies over fading drum patterns—on other occasions they coax screeches and whispers from the prized machine.
Beijing’s dystopian landscape provides Soviet Pop with ample inspiration. Electric scooters whizz by with space-age noiselessness and the clang of construction cranes is never too far off. The city's smog is so thick it can blot out the sun for weeks.
Li Weisi's monotone English lyrics, though scarcely intelligible, offer a poignant chronicle of urban alienation in a city steadily losing ground to the Gobi desert. "More and more the population grows, less and less the difference between everyone," he blearily declaims.
Soviet Pop's debut cassette, Dialog, was issued on local label Rose Mansion Analog. Their follow-up is slated for release by Connecticut's Goaty Tapes. The duo supported Silver Apples’ septuagenarian synth-maestro Simeon Coxe III on his recent China tour.
Li Qing, Li Weisi
Rose Mansion Analog, Goaty Tapes