Exposé Online banner

After Argument — This Is Not Your Game
(Tenzenmen 165tzm, 2015, LP/DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-10-09

This Is Not Your Game Cover art

After Argument may not be the easiest Chinese band to get into for listeners who don’t understand the language. The music does rely heavily on the vocals, even to the point of some of them being essentially spoken rather than sung, but I find that thinking of the voice as another instrument provides a good experience even without deciphering the lyrics. (In fact, my marginal competence in Mandarin may provide added frustration that others wouldn’t face — I can understand enough to get phrases here and there, only to get lost on the next line.) The factors outside lyrics have plenty going for them. For one thing, Yang Haisong’s guitar has a great sound, a combination of his choices for voicing chords, strumming and picking techniques, and the effects and equalization used. There are weird dissonances buried within the chords, often used as passing tones, and ringing thirds are found in uncommon places. Nothing ever seems to resolve in the way you expect. The other half of the duo, drummer Zaza, is maybe not as manic as she was on the previous album, but her playing is consistently interesting, taking advantage of the uncluttered format to come up with oddball patterns that don’t fit with standard 4/4 rock beats. She also contributes some vocals, sometimes echoing answers to Yang’s lead, sometimes providing a more melodic alternative lead. At times, as on “Man in the Mirror,” feedback provides an atmospheric backdrop for the music. Studio trickery is kept at a minimum, resulting in a very live and direct sound. I would urge non-Chinese listeners to give this a try, and to not focus on the vocals too much other than as an element of the sonic pallette. After Argument has a distinctive sound that rewards close listening.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): After Argument

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...

Indigo - Silent Memories – One cannot listen to Indigo's latest album without acknowledging that, while, good as some of these musical compositions might be, they tend to be spoiled by powdery and derivative lyrics sung in a...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues