Khalil Fong's latest album is a melting pot of genres

Hong Kong-based singer Khalil Fong raps on Wu Kong: "My master is a master of self/He taught me how to master myself."

Whether he is referring to himself or the Monkey King in the Chinese classic novel Journey To The West, the assertion is well earned.

Journey To The West is Fong's first release under his own label Fu Music and he is pulling out all the stops.

His opus features an array of collaborators, from Beijing Mongolian folk-rockers Hanggai Band to South Korea's R&B and hip-hop artists Crush and Zion.T, to London-based singer-songwriter Fifi Rong.

Their contributions spread over 20 tracks (21 if you include the bonus track demo of Wu Kong) on two discs, mostly in Mandarin with some in English, Korean and Mongolian.



    Khalil Fong

    Fu Muse

    4/5 stars


    William Wei

    Linfair Records

    3.5/5 stars

Wu Kong, the opening number on the Black disc, starts off as a synth-rock number boasting about his prowess, name-checks actor Stephen Chow and singer Jay Chou in a Mandarin rap and ends with an English rap.

Remarkably, he makes it all sound so effortless and natural even as he is melding different elements and genres. The same is true of the album as a whole.

One of the best tracks is Listen, a song about the pleasures of music. It is seductive and irresistible.

Another thoughtful singer-songwriter with a new album is Taiwan's William Wei, who will be performing at Shanghai Dolly on Saturday (tickets are sold out).

It All Started From An Intro wanders further away from the guitar-driven balladry he was known for, an artistic departure that had begun with his 2014 third record Journey Into The Night (2014).

Wei, who performs as Weibird, seems to acknowledge this when he sings on the opening track Intro: "This is the end, this is also the beginning." The song's structure eschews the standard pop template and goes from a ballad to electronica-tinged dance pop.

Another tune, One Shoe, with dramatic orchestral strings and piano and a backing choir, feels like it escaped from some stage musical.

But the album lacks focus with the inclusion of more radio-friendly tracks such as television drama theme songs Think Of You First and Play Games.

Nevertheless, there is still much to enjoy here, including the bonus tracks of well received recent works such as Deja Vu, which was easily the most poignant moment when it was performed in the Edward Lam play, What Is Sex? (2014).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Melting pot of genres'. Subscribe