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

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra – Although this Korean release is the fourth reissue of this album, its tenuous distribution still means that this, possibly the greatest Italian symphonic rock album of all time will still remain hard...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues