Exposé Online banner

Wang Wen — Eight Horses
(Tenzenmen 163tzm, 2014/2015, 2LP/DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-08-15

Eight Horses Cover art

By now it seems kind of pointless to argue that there is no such genre as “post-rock.” There are way too many bands around the world with too many similarities to not be a thing. Maybe that thing should be called something other than “post-rock,” but at this point it’s too well established and understood to change, so we’re stuck with it. But to specifics… Wang Wen hail from the northern China city of Dalian, and have been going for more than ten years now, with Eight Horses following a string of albums defining and refining their style. This is mostly-instrumental music mostly using rock band instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, keyboards), and their general modus operandi is to start tracks quietly and slowly build to loud, dramatic climaxes. Tempos are never too fast, and transitions are almost never abrupt. So far, so post-rock. Where Wang Wen have always set themselves apart is with some unusual guitar techniques and the quality of their melodies, as well as occasional (and increasing) use of other instruments. Trumpet figures prominently on Eight Horses, and cello appears on several tracks as well, both providing welcome variety in texture and timbre. There are also a couple of departures from the normal structure of Wang Wen pieces. The opening track, “Northern North” (I’d translate the Chinese title as “North of the North,” but I’m not in charge), ends with a brief section where trumpet and keyboards jump into a jerky triplet rhythm, then are joined by a chorus of voices on the same rhythm, almost like the intro to an offbeat RIO tune. But no, it’s just the last 20 seconds of a 10:25 post-rock track. “Ten Thousand Buddhas” similarly ends with a break from the established flow. But those are just a couple of the small moments that make this album work so well. Another departure is the occasional use of very harsh vocals, almost like a refugee from a death metal band had crashed the session. This oddity is less welcome, though considering the whole, it’s not a fatal flaw. The final track, “Welcome to Utopia,” is a real gem, and worth the price of admission on its own.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases, 2014 recordings

Related artist(s): Wang Wen

More info
http://tenzenmen.bandcamp.com/album/eight-horses

Latest news

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Radiohead - Kid A – OK Computer showed a rock band reaching beyond the conventions of commercial music, yet somehow managing to remain commercial, selling millions of albums and impressing a lot of non-mainstream...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues