Track/Video: Exquisite ambient music for a living city – Hong Kong based composer Olivier Cong announces new album ‘Tropical Church’.

Photo: Jeff Cheng

A label with discernment is what you need to help you navigate the oceans of ambient electronica. Lawrence English’s Room40 provides such a service, “a beacon of sound…ringing out from the deepest south” as it’s strapline goes. So any transmission coming in from them is reassuringly one to tune into.

Cue the news of the Room40’s latest signing, the Hong Kong based musician, sound artist and composer Olivier Cong, together with the announcement of his incoming album ‘Tropical Church (out via Room40 tributary Someone Good on July 19th). Co-founder of an independent label himself, Raven & The Sea, Cong’s 2020 debut ‘A Ghost & His Paintings’ made waves on the playlists as it shimmered between chamber folk, post rock and ambient reflections. But Cong’s versatility takes him way beyond the confines of these usual platforms and into a world of significant musical collaborations for film, dance, theatre and immersive art projects in Hong Kong.

You can feel an element of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s approach developing in Olivier Cong’s emerging music, not just in its reach across different media but in the sense of space and place it inspires. Similarly he also cites Yann Tiersen, the French minimalist composer, as an influence, echoing his father’s Francophone roots and his own childhood surrounded by that country’s deep culture.

So releasing ‘Tropical Church’ sees Cong drawing on these experiences and reference points to imagine a contemporary soundscape for his own city, musical snapshots that put the listener in touch with its complex vitality. Preview track, the exquisite They don’t sleep on the Beach anymore, is the new album’s signpost. Revolving around a melody of sombre simplicity that’s mapped by a delicate synth progression, the track wades carefully on its way. Ripples of harmony, rustles of found sound snippets, the music hovers, gentle and poignant. Partnered by the quietly subversive narrative of Linus Chan and Matthew Leung’s video, it’s a subtle, sensory introduction to Cong’s eloquent sonic voice.

Pre-order your copy of ‘Tropical Church‘ by Olivier Cong from your local record store or direct from Room40 HERE

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