I’ve always been a fan of music that contains a slice of culture. One of the wonderful things about music is the power it has to capture life in a country thousands of miles away, solely through sound. Many musical elements of The Shanghai Restoration Project are certainly foreign, but the unique thing about songwriter and producer Dave Liang’s project is how the foreign elements blend together so well with the Western elements that feel close to home. Prior to the creation of the project, Liang was already a reputable producer on popular labels such as Bad Boy and Universal. The Shanghai Restoration Project is his first full album, and the diversity and ingenuity is very impressive. Born out of Liang’s respect for old 1930s Shanghai jazz bands, Liang mixes traditional Eastern elements with the mainstream Western appeal of hip-hop, pop, and electronica. As a Chinese-American, Liang has always wished to express both of his cultures through musical interaction. “Like the rest of the world,” Liang expresses, “China is changing so much, but it’s doing so on an entirely different level from the rest of us. It’s time to explore that idea musically.”
Liang’s talented songwriting and production skills are highly evident throughout the album, making a comparison to Matthew Herbet not at all premature. Liang is quickly finding success, reaching the iTunes Top 100 electronic charts in six countries, along with several of his songs being featured in upcoming films. ‘Miss Shanghai’ is a great example of Liang’s ability to create an East meets West effect, with typically gentle Western feminine pop vocals mixing flawlessly with the prominent Eastern style of play. ‘Babylon of the Orient’ is obviously taking on the hip-hop genre now, with the traditional hip-hop synths and Usher-like vocals managing to create a very enjoyable song. Check out the great jazz influence in ‘Pudong New District’, especially the keys during the last minute or so. The Shanghai Restoration Project is one of the more innovative recent releases — with diversity, catchiness, and brilliant production being some of the likable traits it possesses.
The Shanghai Restoration Project & Di Johnston – Lu Xun Revisited (Watch Me Dance) (remix)