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    "100,000 Whys"

    The New Album By Wang Wen

    Review von Anne
    17.11.2021 — Lesezeit: 4 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    "100,000 Whys"
    Bild/Picture: © Wang Wen

    The probably best-known Chinese post-rock band Wang Wen is now on Pelagic Records, and we all know: With the move to a new label comes a new album at some point. "100,000 Whys", which will officially be released on November 24th, hits the vintage spot - without getting too nostalgic. High-quality sound and a soulful music experience await you.

    The heavily filtered synthesisers and fuzzed-out bass tracks add a touch of the 1970s – yet nothing here is flowery, tacky or overloaded. Wang Wen know how to use their instruments, and they use a lot of them.

    Layer after layer, an electrified masterpiece builds up while listening to it, and I immediately wish to experience these sound artists live on stage as soon as possible.

    The likelihood that you have heard of Wang Weng is quite high. After all, the band has been around for more than 20 years. They laid the foundation for their project in Dalian in 1999. However, if you take the time to listen to their records from different eras, you might be surprised to discover how versatile they are. Each album paints a picture of the stage of development Wang Wen were at at the recording time. At the moment, they are on an exceptionally high step on this imaginary staircase – in terms of sound, there are certainly not so many who can beat them.

    Wang Wen's wonderland

    Album cover Wang Wen – "100,000 Whys": A picture of mountains with trees of different colours.
    Wang Wen – "100,000 Whys"

    The surprising opener unlocks the door into the wonderland of the sound tinkerers with its imaginative spinet sounds. Organ tones, massive drums and precision work on the guitar front, then put the wedge in and lead to the next act after relaxed 6:52.

    "The Ghost" lurks around the next corner and sends a pleasant shiver down my spine. Do I hear a flute? I particularly like this song because it reminds me of the detective movies I used to watch when I was a kid. The rhythm section builds up the initially sluggish tempo into a manifold wall, which then unloads by all available sound sources.

    "Wu Wu Road" is pleasantly playful and airy. The spinet sound from the intro pops up again here – at this point, skilfully combined with wonderful retro organ sounds. "If Tomorrow Comes" starts thoughtfully and reservedly but quickly develops into another musical firework. Jazzy drums stay in the background. The focus here, just like on the next track, "A Beach Bum", is more on the electronic sounds. I can only guess what this song is supposed to express. To me, it sounds like an extended day at the beach – with spilt suntan lotion, a hole in the straw hat and warm drinks under the parasol.

    Beautiful guitar sounds

    "Lonely Bird" almost dives a bit into indie. The drums, gently stroked at first, the glockenspiel and the guitar leading here harmonise perfectly. In the end, the drums go for it again, and I can even sense a few gracefully distorted guitar sounds – beautiful!

    "Shut Up And Play" starts thoughtfully and restrainedly with a flute, then playfully wanders on, like a path along a babbling brook. The second major role in this act is played by a harmonica, which finally takes over the melody lead and hands it over again after about two minutes. From minute five on, things get exciting, the plot of the story announces itself.

    "Forgotten River" is a great finale. The thing we love most about this band happens again: The images of mind start without the use of lyrics. The classic post-rock piece is possibly the most beautiful on this record. Unfortunately, I can't quite decide yet. There are so many fantastic and versatile moments on it that I will probably still come across new accents I didn't notice on my hundredth listen. I highly recommend you to go and search for them as well. As I said, the album's official release will be November 24th, but you can already listen to it on the music streaming platforms. Fans of Mono, Radare, Ef, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Caspian will get what they were looking for.

    "Seven Thousand Hows"

    Wang Wen
    Wang Wen standing in the harbour.

    Between their recording sessions and the release of "100,000 Whys", Wang Wen released the documentary "Seven Thousand Hows". The film features a three-day Nepal visit of the band, during which they took part in a benefit concert for the victims of the 2015 Gorka earthquake. Band leader Xie Yugang said the following inspiring words on stage at Purple Haze Rock Bar in Kathmandu:

    "When people are talking about music, and people are talking about peace and love. We play music as a reminder that you are a human being, not a beast. You are different from the beast."

    The title of their eleventh album is inspired by Kipling's poem "I Keep Six Honest Serving Men". It reflects the collective confusion that ran its course around the globe due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the restrictions that the government called out in response.

    "100,000 Whys" was recorded in Dalian

    When the pandemic hit, Wang Wen, who had just finished their material, were locked up in their hometown of Dalian in northern China. So they decided at short notice to record "100,000 Whys" not in St. Petersburg as planned but at home in their rehearsal room.

    The eight songs on the album express all the feelings they must have gone through during this time. And so much more. The band shows its versatility and willingness to experiment and express its instruments once again. The new record is another exceptional highlight of their career.

    Wang Wen – "Wu Wu Road" (Official Live Video)

    © 2024 · · Anne Reis