Although born and raised in the UK, Hong Kong British artist miu zyu is returning to her roots after years of denying her heritage. “I am Chinese and I am owning it,” she said, explaining the inspiration behind her new conceptual album, Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century. “Before, I would resent it. I tried doing things that would make me, like, less Chinese somehow.” Initially beginning as a member of art-rock band Dama Scout, Eva Liu took up the name miu zyu, a reference to her childhood nickname, which means “little sister pig,” during quarantine when the band’s future was uncertain. In an effort to push herself musically, she looked back on her family’s history as inspiration for what might be the most adventurous album Liu has dropped thus far.
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Whether it’s the erhu on “Paw Paw” or the guzheng on “Ghost with a Peach Skin,” there are several callbacks to Liu’s culture through the instruments and lyrical content. “Ho Bao Daan (Interlude)” follows her father explaining how to make the dish from which the track derives its namesake, all while creating a sonic palette unique from every other song despite only being an interlude. Out of the tracklist, though, “Mother’s Tongue” is far and beyond the standout. The emphasis on atmosphere pays off and serves as an instance where the electronic and dream pop blend sounds holistic in its own genre. Liu’s vocals similarly impress, especially when her voice is just as much of an enigmatic instrument as the electronic production.
Outside of Chinese instrumentation, an apparent source of originality for Liu is the unique electronic approach most likely inspired by 8-bit video games. While album opener “Rotten Bun” begins with the soft playing of a piano alongside Liu’s silken harmonies, a wall of noise gradually zeroes in on the ambient sounds that initially provided serenity. “Sore Bear” also follows a similar trajectory, yet the keys are far more nostalgic in tone, perhaps because of the previous tracks.
All of this is to say that her musical reach is far more expansive than other contemporaries operating in similar genres. But looking forward, there’s more than enough incentive to say Liu is a worthwhile musician who deserves more attention. To release a confident debut album exploring the sensitive and supernatural aspects of the soul is a feat on its own. For it to sound as great as it does, it’s a home run.
Words: David Sosa
Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century by mui zyu is available on all streaming services. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Bandcamp for news on future music and tour dates.