21 Sep 2021 - Sebastian
Post Rock | Pelagic Records | Release date: 24 Sep 2021
Within the Post-Rock genre there is a lot of diversity. Some bands play a more aggressive, heavier version while some bands play a more dreamy Post-Rock. Wang Wen from China are definitely one of the latter bands, leaning heavily towards the calm, relaxing site, but often with a darker twist to their music. With 100,000 Whys, Pelagic Records finally press their latest work on vinyl and this joyous occasion is the reason we are revisiting their 2020 record.
With its eight tracks and more one-hour running time, you know right from the start that Wang Wen take their time to explore each musical theme in their songs to an appropriate length, without lingering too long on some ideas. If you have listened to Invisible City, you will feel right at home in their very distinct sound.
When you place the needle on the record and the flutes of ”Forgotten” begin to play, it is like coming back to an old friend you haven’t seen for a few years; but who you instantly connect with, talking for hours until the sun sets and/or rises again. The sound is very unique “Wang Wen”, with a gnarly synth, bright guitars and later on with some more wood winds. In its grand finale, the song really opens up and it’s like the clouds parted and the sun is shining down on you and your friend sitting outside completely relaxed around each other. We’re off to a fantastic start here.
”The Ghost” has a more haunting vibe, with the sound of a vibraphone or a similar instrument and slightly creepy flutes. It is a fearsome track, by no means, but it definitely catches a certain vibe. It also shows another strength of this band: They can effortlessly shift from a calm and relaxing atmosphere to something more distraught. When the arpeggiated synths set in, you feel a bit uneasy and hope for a relief rather soon, but not in a bad way. You really want to experience how they manage to resolve the tension and let you breathe freely again. When that happens, it is more than simple relief it is much more, a very rewarding moment.
With ”Wu Wu Road” we then get a rockier song, with a lot of distortion in both main instruments, synths and guitars. Yet they still maintain this sense of airiness and lightness. These aspects then come to shine even more in the incredibly relaxing and calming ”If Tomorrow Comes”. It is such a peaceful song that really leaves a warm feeling in your stomach. The brass section also helps tremendously to make this song shine.
Now halfway through, Wang Wen present their longest song of the album, the nine-minute-opus called ”A Beach Bum”, which starts with the sound of switching through different songs on the radio. To be honest, it is just more of their sonic greatness, with a beautiful climax, and so are ”Lonely Bird” and ”Shut Up And Play”. Wang Wen have really figured out their musical identity, so why change something drastically, when you don’t have to?! These songs are pure joy (or pure odes to joy) to listen to because they all work individually, but also together presenting us with an amazing picture on the whole.
When the first notes of ”Forgotten River” pearl from of the speakers, it is a bit of a sad moment, because this amazing album is coming to an end. However, the Dalian band obviously won’t let us down with the last song of this impeccable album and deliver a perfect closure to this wonderful road we have travelled with them the past 55 minutes.
When the needle stops and the album is over, 100,000 Whys leaves you behind calm, happy and ready for any task life might throw at you today. It really is one of the most magnificent Post-Rock albums of 2020 and we can be glad that it finally found its physical, vinyl shaped form to us.