Article by Tim King
Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (Beijing)
Seeing as the name is rather unwieldy in any language, you can just call these guys Re-TROS. It’d be a good idea to commit that abbreviation to memory, because after just one listen to these Chinese post-punk heroes you won’t be able to stop talking about them. Their music synthesizes many great influences from the raucous and provocative yesteryears of punk: throbbing rhythms that wouldn’t be out of place on a Minutemen or Mission of Burma album, languid Ian Curtis-esque vocals and an angular jangle in their guitars that would make Sonic Youth proud.
In their many years together, Re-TROS has been on the cutting edge of Chinese rock-and-roll, having done some touring in the US and even impressing Brian Eno enough that he did a turn as a guest keyboardist. Like a lot of bands that have mastered their signature sound they are playing a lot more with electronics these days, but the brash stomp of their earlier work (like that on their awesomely titled LP, Watch Out! Climate Has Changed! Fat Mum Rises…) definitely informs the style of the latest tracks as they breach new sonic territory. If you were bummed out that they had to drop out of last year’s Strawberry Music Festival, this is your chance to catch them live and you’d best not miss it.
– Lacrimosa (Germany)
It’s time for all of you erstwhile goths to get out your eyeliner, because Germany’s Lacrimosa is coming. They’ve been making music for nearly thirty years and, to hear the Internet tell it, are draped in layers of subgenre: they’ve been called “darkwave,” “symphonic metal,” “gothic metal” and more. What all that means is this: there are croons, there are growls, there is heaviness, there are pretty-sounding parts, all wrapped up in a slightly-macabre penchant for the dramatic. Fans of Rammstein will recognize the same high-gloss pummel they’re used to, while fans of bands like Nightwish will be drawn in by the clean-enough-that-you-could-introduce-it-to-your-parents distortion that gilds Lacrimosa’s soaring guitar leads.
If you’re into heavy music but tiring of the down-and-dirty metal that’s taking Xi’an’s scene by storm, Lacrimosa’s decades of experience and immense polish should bring an unforgettable, high energy show, the likes of which we might not see in this town again, at least not for a while.
– Bang Gang (Iceland)
Lastly, we have one for those of you whose tastes are a little less heavy: Iceland’s Bang Gang, the moniker given to multi-instrumentalist BarðiJóhannsson’s on-again-off-again solo project. Jóhannsson’s sultry, pleading indie-rock vocals glide over emotional keys and strings, soft guitars and rhythm parts that know exactly when to take a walk and when to take off running. The lush, poppy arrangements hit right down the middle, finding all the interesting nuances and wrinkles of his sound while remaining highly accessible.
All that sound is hard for one man to make, so he’ll be bringing a touring band with him to Xi’an for a show that promises to be equal parts toe-tapping and torch-lighting.
Tim King is the editor-in-chief of Xianease Magazine and an erstwhile punk rocker. He can be reached at email@example.com