Exposé Online banner

33 Dao — Xunzhao Guowang
(Modern Sky 8-032, 2007, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2009-07-01

Xunzhao Guowang Cover artThere has always been a kind of surreal appeal to the sound of carnival music, and it has managed to creep into a variety of genres, from Broadway musicals to Hamster Theatre. This Shanghai band (No. 33 Island in English) infuses their twisted pop-rock with a fair amount of carnival atmosphere along with doses of Chinese opera, gamelan, and just plain strangeness. Often there’s a bass sound (keyboard, maybe?) that sounds like tuba, and when you combine that with a martial snare drum and tinkling glockenspiel, you’ve got an intriguing mixture, especially when they’re doing a song that’s a little reminiscent of something Sparks might have done on Propaganda. Eccentric sound design backs nursery-rhyme melodies, and I’m told the Chinese lyrics are as surreal as the arrangements, with titles that translate as such things as “Two-Legged Dog on a Triangular Stage” and “The Monkey's Dance before the Giant Awakes.” (The album title is Searching for the King in English.) If you’re looking for consistency or straightforward songcraft, look elsewhere, but for an intriguing dream journey through a twisted fairground populated by strange people and animals, this is your CD. And lest you think it’s all bizarre sound combinations, they do get out the guitars and rock from time to time, like a warped 90s Britpop band singing in Chinese. Every track features something interesting, and I just hope those outside Asia can get a chance to hear it. If they were from Sheffield instead of Shanghai, the British press would undoubtedly call them the next Radiohead. Or something.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 37, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): 33 Dao

Latest news

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ian Anderson - Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull – Over the last several years, Ian Anderson has been taking breaks from his regular band work for the occasional solo album and tour. On this occasion, his four-piece backing band is supplemented by a...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues