Oishi – once upon a time there was a mountain

On their debut album, 'once upon a time there was a mountain', Oishi use warped tape loops, field recordings and digital manipulation to explore how everyday sounds can carry unexpected paths of expression and meaning. Evoking fictional vocabularies and car radios via motorbike rides down imagined mountains.

Zheng Hao and Ren Shang are two artists from China, currently-based in London, UK. Their music as Oishi is a playful, joyful, and at points absurdist exploration through musique concrete, diaristic field recordings and digitally augmented realities.

once upon a time there was a mountain documents several facets of Oishi’s shifting interactions. For the a-side, Hao plays laptop, while Shang is on cassette player, the duo switching roles on the b-side. The raw material of the a-side is a field recording of Hao walking a friend’s dog in Urbana, Illinois. Effects both analogue (changing the speed of the tape) and digital are applied to shift a potentially familiar sound world into something concretely unfamiliar. The b-side poetically simulates the sound of a motorcycle engine, and is also inspired by the instability of car radio. Illuminating the collision between frenzied activity and apparent serenity involved in a vehicle’s movement, it also toys with the affect these sounds can carry, and how it can be captured or altered.

The duo explain that the album is partly driven by a desire to explore what an ‘Oishi-style’ blues would be. Hao: “the idea is for us to be the neighbours that live in the mountain - or farmer - people that would use their own original language to express their feelings, less compositional concepts, more direct, romantic expressions. therefore, using the word blues could probably be the simplest way for the audience to understand the feeling, and oishi-style means we are trying to deliver the bluesy feeling for you in our own musical way.”

Hinting at how the tape could be experienced, and the fact both sides are simply title ‘a side’, Hao explains: “If a mountain has two sides, then either side of the mountain can be the front, the back, or ‘one of the sides’ – a side. Therefore the mountain’s sound can be heard going up, but also going down.”

Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC


1. A: a side - 15:29
2. B: a side - 14:39


Hardware / software electronic improvisation duo by Ren Shang and Zheng Hao from China, using samples and their own materials, field recordings, lives etc. Setup includes mixers, laptops, cassette players, etc. Slightly different or very different every time.