Rebuilding the Rights of Statues — Watch Out! Climate Has Changed, Fat Mum Rises...
(Modern Sky M-035, 2009, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2010-07-01
The band with the awkward name has released an album with a name even more awkward. The band is generally called Re-TROS, and I'll call the album Watch Out. Since their 2005 release (Cut Off!) contained only six tracks, this is their first full-length effort, and it's a dark and smoky affair, reminiscent of Joy Division, Gang of Four, Television, and the like. The uncompromising music consists mostly of a bass/guitar/drums trio, with the male/female vocals of guitarist Hua Dong and bassist Liu Min contributing the most distinctive aspect of the band's style. Hua's Byrne-like declamations are dominant and insistent, while Liu's more melodic tones provide contrast and counterpoint. Occasional other instruments (including some outstanding avant-garde sax) add color, but the players are interesting enough that these are pure icing; the lack of a superstar guest like the debut's appearance by Brian Eno is not a problem. Hua's guitar playing is as distinctive as his singing, at times minimal and rhythmic, at times howling feedback; Liu's bass is equally versatile, sometimes fuzzed and insistent, sometimes fluid and melodic. Drummer Ma Hui rounds out the trio with muscular parts that are full of unconventional accents and are sometimes modified and augmented with electronic effects. While the band's tempos and volume levels may vary, the atmosphere remains dark and moody. The lyrics are often elliptical, but full of menacing images and evocative phrases. An all-around outstanding release, one of the year's best.
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