SXSW Music Review: Shao

Dark, ominous, electronic “sound design”

China’s Shao Yanpeng traveled long distances to be at Plush on Friday night. The producer lost his passport just before his set. “I drove to Houston and back to get a temporary passport today,” he explained as London’s Jaguar spun house music to a happily churning, full dance floor.

Photo by Gary Miller

Shao began his flawless hourlong set around 11:30pm.

“This guy is recognized by the Chinese central government for electronic music,” said a partygoer to friends on the dance floor. “What do you have to do for that to happen?”

Later, when asked how he got into making dance music, Shao replied, “It’s not really dance music.”

Shao’s fourth LP is his first on Berlin’s indispensable techno label Tresor. He’s the only Chinese artist on the imprint, which originally distinguished itself with fast and funky releases from producers in Detroit and Europe. Doppler Shift is the kind of tough man’s minimal techno that Jaguar – along with her tastemaking mentor, the Black Madonna – have dispensed with.

Then again, Jaguar and the Black Madonna are known for DJ’ing. Jaguar’s final track was “Catz ’N Dogz,” but Shao didn’t bother mixing out.

Starting with a minute of dark, atmospheric, slithering sounds that folded in a hi-hat and the unmistakable tension of a building techno set, Shao moved through his own dark, ominous brand of electronic “sound design” to house music jams like Rework’s “You’re So Just Just,” syncing each track in Traktor instead of mixing. Of course, Shao is a producer, too.


Friday, March 15, 11:30pm, Plush

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Shao Yanpeng, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Jaguar, Black Madonna, Tresor, Rework

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