By the sound of the track titles, someone has just exited a bad relationship: “We Don’t Speak Anymore”, “All We Could Have Done”, “None of That Matters”. But by the sound of the music, someone has moved on: found a separate grace, processed the loss, turned a face to the sea. The early tracks sound sad, even forlorn; until the crescendo on “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, Joeya’s violin tells a mournful tale. But by the woodwinds of “Homeward”, the anticipation of a brighter future has returned.
There’s certainly great care exercised by either the band or Weary Bird Records; my disc arrived safely from China wrapped in six feet of compressed styrofoam wrap. The parcel looked and felt like it might contain mittens. The same care is given to the music, which is gently wrapped in layers of bass and lead guitar, violin and drums. Without the violin, this band might not have been able to make such an impression; but the added element of a string composer (as opposed to a string sampler, or one who plays but a few notes) sets this album apart from the rest. Considering the fact that much of China is cut off from the internet and must rely on underground sources to find new music, this fact comes as a pleasant surprise.
In It doesn’t just play post-rock, it adapts the genre to its own purposes. This means that a central motif can often be found in a quieter section (the fifth minute of “All We Could Have Done”) and an expected crescendo may never emerge (“Zobeide”). It’s nice not to know what to expect. These tracks may take a while to unfold, but even their opening minutes are compelling, as often loud as they are soft: movements, rather than preludes. The frantic drumming on the closing title track is of particular note: a magnificent way to carry the album to its two-minute ambient end. But none of that matters as much as the sheer quality of the music; for this Yunnan band, the future has already arrived. (Richard Allen)