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

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

U Totem - Strange Attractors – Strange Attractors is the second CD from this West Coast ensemble whose 1991 self-titled debut remains one of the best avant-garde/RIO styled albums of the 90s. U Totem takes a strongly modern,...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues