Music is life. It’s everywhere we go, and in everything we do – we are constantly surrounded by rhythms and melodies. For many, the first places that come to mind at the mention of “music” are usually record shops, concert halls and live venues. But truthfully, there is more to music than just these locations.
People are exploring more creative ways to enjoy music in its entirety, integrating it harmoniously into immersive experiences that go beyond just listening with your ears. Instead, you feast with your eyes and feel with your soul. Here are five places where you can enjoy the power of music as an art form.
CITY COUNTRY CITY, TOKYO
City Country City (or CCC, as it is more popularly known) opened its doors in 2006, offering Japanese hospitality, warm meals and good music to record lovers in the neighbourhood. Run by rock musician Keiichi Sokabe, this is where like-minded artists and creators from all over the world congregate to share passionate conversations. Tucked away on the fourth floor of an old apartment building, CCC’s location in the hip cultural quarter of Shimokitazawa also adds to its quaint charm.
All the records at CCC are free to listen to, and patrons can visit without paying any cover charge (Japanese bars commonly charge an entrance fee anywhere between 500-700 yen). But if you’re feeling a little peckish, don’t miss the pasta—which according to CCC’s website is “ten dozen different types of awesome”.
This cosy hideaway in Shimokitazawa is where you can enjoy warm meals and vinyl music.
The staff on duty will select and play records to match the day’s atmosphere.
Vintage records are categorized by genre at CCC for customers’ convenience.
Next to the dining area is the vinyl section, thoughtfully arranged according to genre and indicated with handwritten labels. CCC carries some of the finest vintage vinyl, collected from overseas trips multiple times a year. There’s also a “For Beginners” selection, specially-dedicated to individuals who want to try the vinyl listening experience for the first time. If you’re looking for newer releases, there are some from Rose Records, Sokabe’s label, which can be purchased via CCC’s online record store.
WU HOTEL, GUANGZHOU
Located less than 10 minutes from Baiyun International Airport, Wu Hotel combines chic accommodation and vinyl appreciation – decorated in muted Morandi tones, each guest room comes with its own record player and a selection of vinyls for you to enjoy at your own leisure. Want more? You can also choose from a collection of more than 2,000 records, which includes Chinese, Cantonese, European and American albums in all sorts of genres.
Perfect for travellers, Wu Hotel is located in Guangzhou Airport Town, minutes away from the international airport.
Each retro-inspired guest room comes with its own record player, speaker and vinyl selections.
Take your pick from over 2,000 vinyl records to play in the comfort of your own room.
At night, the hotel lobby transforms into a bar, where you can enjoy a drink or two with fellow travellers while immersing yourself into the warm, layered sounds of vinyl. Wu Hotel’s location at the newly-developed Guangzhou Airport Town, which is slated as an art and cultural hub, is one to watch for upcoming happenings and events.
HYUNDAI CARD MUSIC LIBRARY, SEOUL
Seoul is home to many Insta-worthy locations like Starfield Library at Coex Mall and Dongdaemun Design Plaza, but if you want to add more value to your trip than just a cool picture and a selfie, the Hyundai Card Music Library in Itaewon is a must-visit. Encased in glass are four levels of heaven for music lovers: the top two floors contain more than 10,000 vinyl records and 3,000 music-related publications, while the bottom two floors (called Understage) are open to independent musicians as recording studios and performance venues.
Hyundai Card Music Library boasts a 14.5-metre-tall wrap-around canopy, which offers stage space and shelter for buskers.
There are six built-in turntables in the Music Library. The finishing and interiors were completed by global design firm Gensler.
Designed by well-known Korean architect Choi Moon-gyu, the Music Library stores every single issue of the Rolling Stones magazine since its inception in 1967, collected over two years across 11 countries. Here, you can also find the Sex Pistols’ banned single “God Save the Queen”, one of the nine remaining copies in the world. “I hope this space is used by diverse people, including those who want to get some inspiration from music, or those who want to enjoy a bottle of beer watching the sunset in the open space while listening to some good music,” explained Choi.
Feeling inspired after checking out the Music Library? Pop over to Vinyl & Plastic next door, where more than 10,000 vinyls and CDs are organized across two massive levels, ready for you to pore over and take home if the mood strikes.
Just next door is Vinyl & Plastic, a record and CD store.
Audiophiles are bound to have a field day here perusing the selections of records available here.
TAIWAN SOUND LAB, TAIPEI
Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) was initiated in 2018 by the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation of the Ministry of Culture, aiming to become the leading contemporary culture site in Taiwan with the concept of innovation at its core. Located at the former Air Force Command Headquarters in Taipei, C-LAB spans a total of nine buildings, which were designated as historic buildings in 2014 due to their prominence and significance.
Within C-LAB lies Taiwan Sound Lab, an immersive music space that integrates art, science, technology and research. Based on an eight-year agreement between C-LAB and the French Integrated Research Centre for Sound and Music (IRCAM), Taiwan Sound Lab serves as the first laboratory for the research and development of sound art in Taiwan. To preserve the original appearance of the building, space-within-a-space methods were applied during construction.
Formerly a mess hall for soldiers, this building currently houses Taiwan Sound Lab within the C-LAB compound.
One of Taiwan Sound Lab’s signature features is the DOME, a 12-by-6 metre high dome built to challenge the limits of perception.
The DOME offers a seamless VR display through fully-enveloping, ultra-HD video projection.
Equipped with a 49.4-channel speaker array, Taiwan Sound Lab seats 75 people and uses 3D audio spatial sound technology to completely simulate soundscapes. Engineers at the lab also provide technical support to artists, helping them overcome existing boundaries to expand their creative possibilities and deliver their artistic visions, whether for experimental creation or theatre performances. With an audio format known as Ambisonics, it is possible to capture and diffuse an entire space, so that instead of hearing sounds coming from speakers, the audience can enjoy the “sound scene” as if it were real.
KEF MUSIC GALLERY, HONG KONG
With skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls and five-star hotels on almost every corner, Central is undeniably the business and retail heart of Hong Kong. On the 12th floor along Duddell Street, near Lan Kwai Fong, is KEF Music Gallery. Built by internationally-renowned architectural firm Conran and Partners, KEF Music Gallery spans over 2,500 square feet, blurring the lines between retail and hospitality.
Built like an audio sanctuary, this is where you get to relax in lounge-style surroundings as you grab a coffee at the bar. Sit back in the comfort of the Collector’s Lounge, where a full surround-sound speaker setup gives you a full-fledged listening experience. Or stay for as long as you want in one of the intimate listening pods, designed to offer privacy for some quality me-time.
The Collector’s Lounge at KEF Music Gallery is lined with bookshelves that also double as sound diffusers.
The coffee bar connects to an interactive headphone display made of grey Atlantic stone and smooth walnut.
For the best audio experience, the solid construction of the walls behind the speakers forces the sound to be chanelled forwards.
The art displayed at KEF Music Gallery deserves a noteworthy mention; enjoy the undulating beauty Black Waves by digital artist collaborative TeamLab, which marries immersive 3D effects with high-resolution music. After that, see how many masterpieces you can spot decorating the walls, from the likes of Hong Kong ink painting master Nancy Chu Woo, to Japan visual artist Yayoi Kusama, to British installation artist Julian Opie and Australian photographer Luke Shadbolt.