Starting Point: Heart of Ocean
Personal favourite: Heart of Ocean
Things I’ve learned from Wang Wen:
- China has a post-rock scene.
- At least one Chinese post-rock band are up to album number nine.
- I really do know nothing.
- The above facts shouldn’t surprise me as much as they do, but in equal measure they please me.
- Music is a fantastic opportunity, particularly instrumental music, to cross cultural divides.
Hello China, let’s do this.
Think of post-rock as spectrum, one end is the broader genre of rock music, the other end is soundtracks or Original Sound Tracks to be more specific (Google your favourite movie and add the letters OST to the end, you’ll see what I mean).
Sweet Home, Go! sits closer to the soundtrack end of the spectrum.
I’ve heard lots of post-rock, but most of it has been from the US, UK or Sweden (perhaps more accurately Scandinavia). In listening to Wang Wen’s Sweet Home, Go! I find myself actively listening for any Asian elements that may be woven in to the music. It’s unfair to expect that just because they are Chinese that it will sound any different to any other post-rock band but I am curious as to if anything has seeped in.
The usual post-rock suspects are all present; guitars laden with delay, reverb on everything and drums with plenty of the room mixed in (for a demonstration of this watch this video).
The point of difference is the focus on orchestral instruments like the strings and horns, where in some they are driving the song forward and are the focal point of the mix. When it’s working the instrumentation feels natural and doesn’t attract attention. At times the flow between sections is jarring and feels a little forced, like there is a desire to throw a rock section in because there hasn’t been one in this song yet.
The songs are long, with the exception of the final track they are all eight minutes or longer.
Explorations feels the most fitting term as some songs feel like an idea that has been worked on and honed until a piece of music has been recorded, others feel like jam sessions recorded for posterity. Some of the explorations work really well, while some fall short. There are elements reminiscent of jazz creeping in, followed by heavier sections punctuated by staccato distorted guitars.
Will you like this album? The answer to that will come down to patience and tolerance.
Sweet Home, Go! is probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
The songs are long, the evolution of ideas can takes time. If you like that sort of thing and you want to hear some Chinese post-rock? Dive in, you won’t be disappointed. I’m pleased to have listened to it, if for no other reason than it’s opened my eyes to the amazing reach that music has.
Check out Wang Wen on their Bandcamp page.