Exposé Online banner

33 Dao — Xunzhao Guowang
(Modern Sky 8-032, 2007, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2009-07-01

Xunzhao Guowang Cover artThere has always been a kind of surreal appeal to the sound of carnival music, and it has managed to creep into a variety of genres, from Broadway musicals to Hamster Theatre. This Shanghai band (No. 33 Island in English) infuses their twisted pop-rock with a fair amount of carnival atmosphere along with doses of Chinese opera, gamelan, and just plain strangeness. Often there’s a bass sound (keyboard, maybe?) that sounds like tuba, and when you combine that with a martial snare drum and tinkling glockenspiel, you’ve got an intriguing mixture, especially when they’re doing a song that’s a little reminiscent of something Sparks might have done on Propaganda. Eccentric sound design backs nursery-rhyme melodies, and I’m told the Chinese lyrics are as surreal as the arrangements, with titles that translate as such things as “Two-Legged Dog on a Triangular Stage” and “The Monkey's Dance before the Giant Awakes.” (The album title is Searching for the King in English.) If you’re looking for consistency or straightforward songcraft, look elsewhere, but for an intriguing dream journey through a twisted fairground populated by strange people and animals, this is your CD. And lest you think it’s all bizarre sound combinations, they do get out the guitars and rock from time to time, like a warped 90s Britpop band singing in Chinese. Every track features something interesting, and I just hope those outside Asia can get a chance to hear it. If they were from Sheffield instead of Shanghai, the British press would undoubtedly call them the next Radiohead. Or something.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 37, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): 33 Dao

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cornerstone - Once upon Our Yesterdays – Vocalist Dougie White and bassist Steen Morgensen form the songwriting backbone of progressive metal act Cornerstone, which hails from Denmark. White comes from the UK, having spent time in local...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues