Exposé Online banner

Zhaoze — Yond
(Bandcamp no#, 2013, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-08-20

Yond Cover art

By now there's a well-established formula followed by most post-rock music. It involves a medium slow tempo, a quiet beginning, and a long, slow buildup to a loud, dramatic finish. As formulas go, that's pretty open for variation in tonality, instrumentation, and so on, and can range from pure guitar / bass / drums rock to extended ensembles incorporating strings, woodwinds, and what have you. Zhaoze have their own take on the style, the most prominent feature being a prominent role for guqin, which is one of the quintessential traditional Chinese instruments. The sound of the guqin is defined by its fretless nature, and the player can freely slide their fingers (or thumb) up and down the length of the strings for sliding tones a bit like a lap steel guitar, only with a tone less bright and metallic. In addition to standard playing techniques, Hoyliang uses effects devices and a cello bow on the guqin, further expanding the sonic options. Aside from Hoyliang, who also plays occasional guitar, the band consists of a guitarist (and occasional keyboardist) who goes by the name Littledream, bassist Roy, and drummer Seasean (nicknames all). All six tracks on Yond follow the standard pattern, but there's enough variation in sound and mood to keep the listener interested — unless they have a short attention span, which would likely be challenged by three tracks stretching beyond the ten minute mark. "Leave" starts the album with a quiet bit of atmosphere and meditative notes on the guqin which are echoed by a glockenspiel. After a brief statement of the main melody on the guqin, the electric guitar comes in, quietly at first, then louder as the rest of the band enters, ushering in a series of builds and releases that takes us powerfully along on wave after wave of sound. This is the most succinct statement of Zhaoze's craft; the other tracks offer variations on the themes developed more extensively, with elements of space rock and Chinese traditional music acting as seasonings. Throughout the album, a sense of calm abides, infusing even the loudest moments with a peaceful energy rather than anger or angst. At the peak of "The World Is a Blue Stone" (that's blue as in sad), Hoyliang breaks out the bow for a stunning cello-like melody on the guqin. It is moments like this that cause me to rank Zhaoze with the top post-rock bands in the world, deservedly standing next to Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mono, and their elite peers. An outstanding recording from start to finish.


Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Zhaoze (Swamp)

More info
http://zhaoze.bandcamp.com/album/yond

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Crack - Si Todo Hiciera Crack – While in countries like England, Italy and the United States, the outlook for progressive rock by the late seventies was practically at its bleakest; Spain's scene was at its most prolific stage. ...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues