Alpine Decline is a guitar+drums duo that relocated from Los Angeles to Beijing in 2010, attracted by the city’s brimming underground music scene. The band’s sound touches the nostalgic sweet spot for fans of psych, shoegaze, noise rock and ‘90s indie, without sounding too much like any of those. Their 2016 album Life’s a Gasp and their latest, 2018’s Return to Desolation Lake, were recorded with longtime band confidante and producer Yang Haisong (PK14) joining on bass, conceived from its inception as a collaborative studio and live performance project. In the last few years, Yang’s steadfast hand behind the dials and on the four-string have added another layer of depth and substance to the band’s work, which is grounded in an intensely personal digestion of the swirling cultural malaise of the day, dueling themes of lies, love and trust, but always uplifted by a romantic, desperate mission to shape beauty from the chaotic noise around them.
Urban noise, indeed, has been a constant in Alpine Decline’s life. They sought it in their initial move to Beijing, camping out just outside the city’s fifth-ring road and smelting their trade out of the ambient grit and smoke created by the city’s never-ending 21st century churn. They returned to Los Angeles at the end of 2016, plugging back into their old networks at the very dawn of the post-Trump world order. Since jacking back in there, Alpine Decline has dived deeper into their side project (bearing the same name), in which the core duo explores sound design/destruction via their ever-growing Eurorack modular synth system. Performing live as a duo on nothing besides their humming, haunting synths, Alpine Decline’s modular unit explores a totally different sonic terrain, swapping melody and beat for a deep-scrub gray matter massage better experienced while seated. As a full band, with Yang Haisong or newer recruit Wen Yuzhen (Birdstriking) rounding out the live setup on bass, Alpine Decline melts, moves slowly but squarely toward the goldilocks zone between devastation and redemption, a calculated delirium that numbs and warms in measured doses.
“This is music suspended between earth and sky, searching for the supernatural in the mundane…” — Los Angeles Times
“…heralds a new American mysticism, a tradition that trails back through the Pentagon levitating ’60s to Felix the Cat, theosophy and beyond.” — L.A. Record
“Still waters run deep maybe surfacing somewhere in aesthetic kinship between The Micro- phones, Sonic Youth and maybe even Alien Lanes era GBV. But yeah. Shimmering, shimmer- ing. Real good.” — SmartBeijing
Jonathan Zeitlin - Vocals / Guitar
Pauline Zeitlin - Drums / Synths