Li Yilei - NONAGE
“Growing up has always been a solitary journey, marked by forward-looking anticipation, anxiety, unripe potential, aspirations, and closures.”
London based Chinese composer and multi-instrumentalist Li Yilei returns to Métron Records with NONAGE, their second full length release following 2021’s OF. An introspective reflection on the journey through childhood, this new work brings together samples from old Chinese TV shows, mechanical children’s toys and an array of acoustic and electronic instruments - some of which were designed and built by Li themselves.
The Chinese title for "NONAGE" is "垂髫", which translates to “childhood” or “disheveled hair”, and refers to the carefree phase of life when children let their hair down, both figuratively and literally. For Li, nonage is a place that they always revisit - to learn about fear and fearlessness, love and despair, grief and glee, curiosity and mistakes.
“I remember pressing piano keys like touching flowers, reading scores like looking at paintings, writing like how I would talk to myself, greeting death like how I would greet life.”
Initially conceived as an archiving project, the record retraces and reimagines fractions of Li’s childhood memories through smell, location and colour, and brings to life the lingering feelings that remain into adulthood.
Compositions are built around a variety of unusual sources: damaged instruments such as a toy piano, a hand cranked music box, bird whistles, a broken accordion and anything else Li could find that evoked nascent recollections. Interspersed throughout are samples from Li’s childhood piano jams, moments of contemplative transmigration where previous incarnations of self and memory meet the present.
Written and Recorded by Li Yilei.
Mastering by Brandon Hocura.
Artwork by Li Yilei.
P & C Métron Records 2024.
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