Guitar and bass duo Gong Gong Gong (工工工) charge out from Beijing’s underground scene with a distinct vision and uncompromising sense of purpose. The duo taps into a wavelength uniting musical cultures, drawing on inspirations ranging from Bo Diddley to Cantonese opera, West African desert blues, drone, and the structures of electronic music.
Gong Gong Gong’s debut LP, Phantom Rhythm, is their mission statement: between the locomotive chug and banjo twang of Tom Ng’s guitar and Joshua Frank’s thumping bass harmonics, an aura of ghostly snare hits and timpani overtones emerges. Over Frank’s enigmatic melodies, Ng sings in Cantonese, piecing together abstract tales of absurdity and doubt, desire and lust.
Formed in 2015, the band’s earliest shows were in Beijing underpass tunnels and DIY spaces. Ng and Frank are both outsiders who call the city their home: Ng, who was born in Hong Kong, defiantly sings in his native tongue, while Frank, originally from Montreal, has lived in Beijing on and off since childhood. (He is the English translator of Ng’s lyrics, adding another layer to the duo’s close collaboration).
A compact, almost telepathic unit, Gong Gong Gong use their minimalistic tools and idiosyncratic playing style to challenge the notions of rock n’ roll, stripping the form down to its bare essentials: rhythm, melody, and grit.
The record can be picked up here: https://www.wharfcatrecords.com/store/gong-gong-gong-phantom-rhythm