WANG WEN (惘闻) – Eight Horses (八匹马) | Aristocrazia Webzine

WANG WEN (惘闻) – Eight Horses (八匹马)

Band: Wang Wen (惘闻)
Title: Eight Horses (八匹马)
Year: 2014
Country: China
Label: New Noise
Contacts: Facebook  Bandcamp

  1. 北方向北
  2. 大连天空
  3. 第八层地狱
  4. 万佛朝宗
  5. 逃离母宇宙
  6. 酒神经
  7. 最后旅程
  8. Welcome To Utopia
RUNNING TIME: 01:07:20

It  started as a relatively odd and niche genre, but post-rock has become more and more popular over the last dozen years, going as far as to influence new places and styles. Wang Wen‘s story (“惘闻” is the name of the band in Chinese) is an interesting example of the evolution of this current in the crowded Chinese underground scene.

The band was founded in 1999 in the seaside city of Dalian, Northeast China, and it seems to have thoroughly studied the subject matter on some of the best textbooks available at the time, namely those created by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In a few years time they put together their debut album Diary Of 28 Sleepless Days (“二十八天失眠的日记”), officially released in 2003. I first came across this band between 2007 and 2008 when — still a Chinese language student at university — I was on my journey through the Chinese underground. Two aspects struck me at once, the first were their artworks (especially those on 7 Objects In Another Infinite Space and IV): sober, elegant, and somewhere in between comics and abstract art. The second, of course, was their music; it was a band clearly influenced by the big names from the late ’90s – early ’00s, but still able to leave its own personal mark on the listener.

Wang Wen are totally aware of the transnational potential their (almost totally instrumental) genre has, but they never abandon their Chinese “soul” altogether, neither in terms of lanugage nor of conceptual references. The album we are talking about here is the eighth full-length in a highly productive career: Eight Horses (“八匹马”) was released this year, and it is already the second album available on Bandcamp (after 0.7 in 2012). The release was also promoted through an extensive and successful national tour over the summer, with shows in most of China’s main cities (naturally, I was there for their Shanghai stop).

As suggested by both title and cover, the tracklist features eight episodes: eight horses riding in the same direction, but at different speeds and inclinations. The opener “北方向北” (“Northern North”) is also probably the best on here, oscillating between quiet passages and abrupt amplifications. There is also a brief sample taken off a Mao Zedong’s speech, introducing the final part led by the keyboard. All the tracks comfortably sit in a seven to ten minute range, the only exception being “酒神经” (“Dionysus”). After the second song, dedicated the Dalian’s sky (less polluted than most similarly sized Chinese cities), Wang Wen set off to explore many themes such as distance, departure (“最后旅程” — “The Last Journey” — possibly the most intimate song on here), nostalgia, up to a seeming reconnection with a salvific reality in “Welcome To Utopia”, the only song title in English on this record.

If you are a post-rock fan, Eight Horses can be a good chance to discover a relatively new area. Differently from other Chinese rock projects, the language barrier is not a huge issue (pretty much limited to the titles) and you can easily enjoy their music without having to worry too much about the contents. This is not necessarily the best album by the band from Dalian, but it is definitely the easiest one to get a hold of for listeners from abroad.