Phosphenes Imperial China Local post-punkers take issue with urban planning.

Listen: Imperial China

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Download: "Corrupting the Integrity of the Grid"

Standout Track: No. 5, “Corrupting the Integrity of the Grid,” which rests right in the middle of Imperial China’s first album, out on local labels Sockets and Ruffian Records on Feb. 14, Except the track doesn’t rest so much as it swells—with powerful post-punk hooks, a delirious disco-punk beat, and dynamic change-ups. Though worldless, the tune manages to speak volumes with a blistering pace and experimental tone that split the difference between Battles and Fugazi.

Musical Motivation: Like many Imperial China songs, “Integrity of the Grid” began as an experiment with sounds. “It started with a loop and then just layers got built on top of that,” says multi-instrumentalist Matt Johnson. “We took it one step further in the recording stages and were like, ‘let’s add some things to this particular song that we can’t do live.’”

L’Enfant Terrible: The song, recorded with producer Devin Ocampo at Inner Ear Studios, acquired its name from an outburst by drummer Patrick Gough. “We were coming back from a show at the 9:30 Club and he got really pissed off ’cause there was a one-way street and he really wanted to go down,” Johnson says. Gough, an urban planner by day, became infuriated with Pierre L’Enfant’s design of D.C. and suddenly shouted, ‘They corrupted the integrity of the grid!’”

Imperial China performs at the Black Cat Friday at 9 p.m.

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