Exposé Online banner

Wei Zhongle — Raised High / Brought Low
((Not on label) no#, 2013, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-07-19

Raised High / Brought Low Cover art

In the history of rock, most bands have consisted of guitars, electric bass, and drums. A lot have added keyboards, and smaller numbers have added strings and woodwinds of various kinds. But Wei Zhongle's lineup consists of guitar (often prepared), bass, drums, and two clarinets. That alone almost certainly puts them in a category by themselves, and when you add the Asian-inflected singing style, they have a really distinctive sound. All of which would be mere curiosity if it weren't for the quality of the music they produce. So many factors come together to make this work. The guitar is generally the basic instrument of the arrangements, but both the preparations and Rob Jacobs' unusual playing style put this well outside the normal sound of guitar-based rock. The strings often have a dull ringing gong-like tone, and are played in a percussive way. And then there are the clarinets. Their parts are often arranged as interlocking lines, much the way Fripp and Belew worked out their guitar parts in the 80s King Crimson material. At other times the two parts are more like conventional harmonies, and at still other times, they provide eerie long tones and dissonant sounds. Very nice stuff! And then there are the vocals — Jacobs sings with a nasal tone reminsiscent of Far Eastern traditional styles (Thai, Balinese, Japanese, Chinese) and in scales that do not fit the Western major/minor dichotomy. All in all, Wei Zhongle is one of the most fascinating American bands right now, and a real joy to discover. This short album (32 minutes) is a great introduction to a new flavor for music, and I guarantee you've never heard anything like it.


Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Wei Zhongle, Rob Jacobs

More info
http://weizhongle.bandcamp.com

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Carmen - Fandangos in Space & Dancing on a Cold Wind – Do you like Jethro Tull? Curved Air? Flamenco dancing? Did you ever wish for a combination of the three? Your wish has come true, and its name is Carmen! And if you don't think they could pull off...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues