Atmospheric soundscapes from Sweden’s Immanu El
Friday saw the start of ‘Swedish weekend’ here in Beijing (and you didn’t even need to go to IKEA, although some of my friends actually did!) with Post Rockers Immanu El on Friday at Mao & Death Metal from Opeth Saturday at Tango (more coming on that later). It’s no secret I’m a post rock fan, so I was keen to hear the band who have been dubbed the next Sigur Ros.
Glow Curve opened the show to a packed house at Mao, the crowd probably as eager as I was to see a big show after the two week musical drought of Chunjie. Since releasing their album last year Glow Curve have become, in my eyes at least, one of the best examples of Post Rock in this city, possibly even China. Definitely the perfect choice to be opening this show! Friends who hadn’t seen them before were commenting on how good they were, but to me they just seemed a little off their game tonight. Musicians out of synch with each other and a few off notes, but then I’m probably being overly critical because I do listen to their album a lot! They have a few shows coming up over the next couple of months, including Residence A’s album launch Feb 26th, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon.
Immanu El came on next and the Swedish contingent was out in force to support their brothers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many blonde heads nodding along in Mao! Immanu El are often described as a little indie pop, especially after their second album Moen was released, due to the fact their include a lot more vocals in their music than is common for this genre. It’s also another reason they’re often compared to Iceland’s Sigur Ros, another Post Rock band notable for their lyrics. I don’t agree with that label though, their music in more ambient, atmospheric and could easily be a movie soundtrack, with beautiful harmonies and chiming guitars just washing over you, so you almost forget you’re in a packed livehouse surrounded by hundreds of other people. The english vocals play their part as another instrument and they’re not used to tell a story or draw your attention away from the music.
Immanu El played songs from all three of their albums, including their 2011 release In Passages. This album has a nautical theme to it and the whole show was set to a backdrop of ships gliding across rolling waves and clouds brewing adding to atmosphere. The band were obviously excited about beginning their first Asia tour and showed it by chatting to the crowd between songs and showing off their newly learned Chinese which received many calls of ‘niubi!’ from the crowd. For me this couldn’t have been a better way to kick of my musical the year of the dragon and I’m sure many of the crowd would agree. If you enjoyed Immanu El, or missed them and want to see some more Swedish Post Rock, their countrymen pg.lost, whose vocalist Kristian helped record In Passages, will be here at the end of March.