Magic abounds at Mao for Zhaoze’s 1911 album launch
18 mths ago I stumbled upon a Sunday show at Mao that started my love (or maybe obsession?) with Chinese post rock music. It was the album launch for Guangzhou based band Zhaoze’s album Cang Lang Xing, and was undoubtedly my show ofF the year for 2011, and also became my album of the year. Ever since that show I’ve been waiting (impatiently!) for them to come back to Beijing, especially after the release of their new album 1911 in December last year.
Post rock veterens HuaLun were billed to open the show, but due to band issues that meant they also didn’t play at last weekend’s Indie China Anniversary, that duty was taken by local band Glow Curve. I’ve seen these guys play a lot recently, they seem to be the go to opening band for almost every post rock act touring right now. And that’s not a bad thing, their set is now entirely new songs, none of the tracks from the album BD & I reviewed last year and the new sound is really growing on me. The constant performing has made them really tight. They were recently signed to Modern Sky and I’m looking forward to seeing them headline their own album launch sometime soon!
Zhaoze came on just before 10pm to an expectant crowd, by no means a full house, but considerably more people than last time I saw them. The crowd were drawn to the front of the stage as HZ welcomed them. After beginning with one song from Cang Lang Xing, the stage lights were dimmed, small lights dropped all over the stage. Mao took on the guise of a cave full of glowworms, and that’s when the magic started. Zhaoze played through their new album 1911, which is divided into 4 movements rather than songs each ranging from 8 to 23 minutes, barely stopping for a breath for over an hour.
For anyone who hasn’t heard Zhaoze before, their music is intense, from gentle plucking of the guqin, echoing bass riffs, wailing guitar to thundering drums, light and shade colour each long piece. I saw at least one person jump back from the stage in shock when they launched into one of the heavy passages. The new album is heading more towards a classical style, but still most definitely post rock. In contrast to the last time I saw them, the whole set was instrumental, none of the songs from their earlier albums where HZ plays guitar or sings where included. From Cang Lang Xing onwards the guqin has become the focal point of the music, but not at the detriment out the other instruments which still hold their own.
They played some more songs from Cang Lang Xing at the end, finishing an epic 2 hour set with my favourite song Flying Pig before heading out to chat with fans, autograph albums and take photos. Looking back at my photos while listening to the album again today, I really can’t see anything being able to top this one, Zhaoze are set to be my show of the year again in 2012!