Review

Hojo for Phambinho on NTS

Mix

October 8, 2021

K-Pop / C-Pop / Chopped n Screwed

Taipei to Hualien Nightbus, Phambino with Hojo on NTS

Words by:

Miles Ginoza

|

Published on:

24/11/2021

An overnight bus, lights twinkling in the distance. It’s too dark to make out much of the passing scenery through the window, save the silhouettes of fences or the outline of fields in the distance. Traveling alone, especially in this context where you are a passenger among strangers being pulled along by an anonymous bus driver, offers the space for introspection. Moving through the night, it is easy to put on headphones and let the mind wander, reflecting on fond memories or thinking about people close to the heart. Something about the movement in the darkness helps facilitate this so well. Something about being a passenger in transit facilitates reflection.

For his August show, NTS resident Phambino invited Taipei based DJ and organizer Hojo to provide a mix. Hojo offers an hour-long soundtrack for “an overnight bus from Taipei to Hualien, passing through townships and by the sea.” The mix moves lucidly between chopped and screwed Kpop, ambient drone, emotional piano, and syrupy sweet Cpop ballads. There is a kind of freedom in the movement from track to track, one that reminds me of how I might switch moods sporadically while listening to music while riding a night bus. 

The mix flows with the natural rhythm of a wandering subconscious. As the bus departs, a chopped and screwed edit of Taemin’s “If I Could Tell You” sets us off on our journey. The vocals take on a soft, sweet quality when pitched down and the added reverb and echo effects give the track spaciousness. The lyrics are full of yearning. Taemin repeats, “If I could tell you.” But he can’t bring himself to do it, to tell the subject of the song of his love for them. As we travel into the night on this overnight bus, the departure feels bittersweet remembering a love that remains unspoken. 

Another syrupy sweet, chopped and screwed Kpop edit follows, serenading us as we travel to the outskirts of Taipei. Then, as the city lights begin to dim as we leave the city for the countryside, an ominous ambient track by Ludu flows in. It is dark—not quite a growl and not quite a screech, but rather a continuous drone. It flows into another instrumental track by Mong Tong 夢東, a psychedelic duo from Taipei. This long instrumental passage provides space to spiral deep into thought. 

The act of traveling seems to invite introspection. For me, this act of being in transit, of moving from one place to another, prompts me to reflect on ideas of space and the act of homecoming.

Perhaps it is the anonymity, too. When surrounded by strangers, you have the freedom to be whoever you want or to be no one at all. It is a freeing of self, a dislocation from the self that allows the mind to feel at peace to reflect fully, even indulgently. 

It is the combination of waiting and of movement. Being unable to act. Getting lost in thoughts of the past or imagining the future, whether it be that feeling of return home, the warmth of a familiar bed, the welcoming arms of a loved one.