The influence of society and our many different cultures are the exact sort of thing that music has become entangled with as we’ve all heard hundreds of songs tackling societal issues, invoking the spirit of a culture, or both. Above all else, though, it’s a good Chinese influence in rock and metal that can really grasp my attention. Black Kirin and Zuriake are easily the most notable acts on the metal side, but I’ve never really stepped into the rock side of the heavily Chinese influenced music. Tonight, I changed that with an album that I couldn’t have asked for better of as Zhaoze has created quite the eclectic display.
Now, when I say “Chinese influenced” I don’t mean something as simple as the lyrics having a theme of Chinese mythology or the album itself tackling an issue that dwells within the Chinese government. Very much like the two aforementioned acts, the post-rock act of Zhaoze takes traditional Chinese instruments and beautifully incorporates them into the music. This band has apparently been going for some time with a clear devotion to their craft, but it’s with “Birds Contending” that I’m introduced and it’s with this album that I’m already blown away. Right off the bat, Zhaoze has my attention with “Birds Contending” being a single track stretching over 40 minutes which is the exact kind of stuff I’m known to seek out, and Zhaoze has gloriously shown how magnificent it can be in the realm of rock. Across the entire record, Zhaoze constantly bounces back and forth between progressive and post-rock that are done to gorgeous effect. Then layer in a true multitude of traditional Chinese instruments on top of all that, which are performed beautifully as well, and “Birds Contending” is made so much more detailed as the entirety of the record has a completely different and unique feel as we’re guided through the very forest that this record was actually recorded in. But then there’s more as not a single word is uttered for all of “Birds Contending” which demonstrates amazingly well as to how cinematic Zhaoze has made this 43-minute experience that’s truly a one of a kind record.
Truly, this is a record that needs to be heard by all lovers of post-rock, any work of music inspired by traditional Chinese culture, and stupid long songs as it’s something that’s only for the well-initiated as Zhaoze has created something that’s not for casual listeners. “Birds Contending” is a sign of true genius, and I can only see more excellence coming from this quartet in the future.
LISTEN to “Birds Contending” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Zhaoze on Facebook here.