Roll With the Punches is a pleasing cocktail of the arcane and modern. Melodies plucked on traditional instruments balance atop odd, synthesised shopping-trolley clatters. The foundations of its songs lie in live jams, which gives the whole EP a spontaneous and exciting energy.
The EP owes its name to Yu Su's own informal translation of a passage from the Tao Te Ching ('泉出通川为谷'); and in its improvisatory nature, we can hear a channelling of Tao, a sense of music writing itself, with the musicians' hands the instrument.
'Tipu's Tiger' is a wonderful example of this. It's a restless track, which seems to have perpetual forward movement. (Or perhaps the effortless downward movement of water; as a wave-like hiss sneaks in and out for the second half of the track.)
And while 'The Ultimate Which Manages the World' has a title which would hint at more of the same, it proves to be an altogether different beast. It's, inexplicably, a dub track, with a very pleasing 90s chillout vibe. Only because Roll With the Punches is so expertly judged does this track not send the whole thing off course, tumbling into the bushes somewhere.
A more literal translation of '泉出通川为谷' is 'the spring flows over the plains, and the valley is born'. The valley, and not just in a Freudian sense, represents the feminine yin. The rock has been carved away by currents, and replaced with negative space. It's at once a thing, and a non-thing. Because a valley is defined by absence, and by emptiness.
Roll With the Punches feels like a little memorialised breath of yin; understated, unsurprising, unassuming; passive. It doesn't force anything. But it's there, and you feel it — even when you don't realise.
Roll With the Punches is available for streaming and purchase here.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe