LOUDER REVIEWS: PENGSHUI - PENGSHUI
Aggressively bridging the divide between Hardcore Punk and Grime, on their debut album, PENGSHUI bring together the socially fuelled rage of different genres into a combination that is as powerful as it is volatile. Unrestrained by being a three-piece, they create a tremendous sound with just a bass, drums and vocals. As vocalist, Illaman elucidates: ‘’both styles (are) made up of people with something to say politically and personally, who’ve got this DIY spirit and desire to fuck shit up”. The mixture is proving persuasive as well. They’ve already made a fan out of Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds and created an official remix of The Prodigy hit Light up the Sky. Vitally, the fact that each of the members are from different backgrounds musically, has attracted a small yet diverse following. After experiencing the self-titled album, I can see entirely why. Despite its short running length, the album bursts with vibrancy and dynamism. Each member cuts out their own unique sphere of influence, and not a second feels wasted or excessive.
‘Wickedest Ones’ opens explosively, with Fatty’s bass creating an impressively melodic and commanding hook. The chants of the title feel like a rallying cry amidst the turmoil, calling on the listener to escape the world and immerse themselves in PENGSHUI’s chaotic mixture. We enter a grime section where Pravvy Prav uses his drum skills to lay down some intriguing percussive elements which syndicate with the impassioned rapping of the verses. ‘Nobody Cares’ relies entirely on personality to carry its sense of constant intensification. Thankfully, these musicians have an unlimited supply of attitude, brashness, and assertiveness, allowing the anthem to feel intensely daring.
The rattle and commotion of ‘Blame’, could be interpreted in a number of ways, politically or introspectively. For me, the oppressive and dystopian nature of the instrumentation and the angst present in the lyricism speak of overcoming anxieties and learning to rise above the sensation of feeling trapped and victimised. Regardless of how you see the fervent wordplay, there’s always an underlying sense of focus and meaning stepping between the lively riffs and spirited performances. The same could be said of ‘Wiseman’ where abrasive electronic jungle textures are utilised in bringing out tension and rage, that underpins the message to be watchful of lies, propaganda, and disinformation.
My only bugbear with this record is the reliance on interludes. While in keeping with the dirty, grimy textures throughout, they contribute nothing in terms of variety, and at worst disrupt the continuous flow and energy. Anyway, there is enough ferocity here to dispel the need for instrumental wadding. Take the enraged and volatile ‘Lights Out’ where the melodies refuse to remain static and the raps are delivered with a striking level of complexity. Alternatively, look to the crescendoing epic ‘No Joke’, which channels an amount of experimentation that transcends even the expectations the trio set for themselves.
We finish on the poignant and exhilarating ‘Rise’, proving a perfect end to an album bursting with defiance, both of the political and musical sense. Supposing PENGSHUI channel this amount of vigour into future releases and live performances, they could become an act that defines rock and grime for future generations of musicians.