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Chinese Post Rock- Crimson Crescendo and Censorship

Updated on October 16, 2015

Crimson Fists: Cultural Stagnation in the PRC

I'm personally not a very big fan of c-pop; it's usually characterized by its slow, acoustic riffs and generic lyrics about the same limited number of subjects. Of course, the artists themselves are not to blame; we all know about the oppressive restrictiveness of media in the PRC. This makes for some vapid creative output. The air is so stuffy in the P.R.C. that even harmless cartoons like Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf (喜羊羊与灰太狼), China's highest grossing children's program, have been recently subjected to scrutiny and "re-editing" by the PRC's government. It's such a shame that a country as vast and culturally diverse as China isn't allowed to fully expand its cultural potential. We've seen high degrees of international popularity in neighboring asian countries; Japan's animation and music industry and the Korean Wave (Halyu) are the result of a "democratic" receptiveness to ideas which has thrived in recent decades.

In spite of this, several outlets of creativity have still managed to escape the ubiquitous grasp of the Communist Party's crimson fist, at least at times. I'm sure a lot of the more Japan savvy users on here are familiar with Silver Ash, one of the first and only "Visual Kei" groups to emerge from China. As you can well imagine, visual kei is definitely incompatible with "socialist" ideology, and the group was subjected to clamp downs until they cleaned up their image. Another famous example would be Ciu Jan (老崔), the father of Chinese rock and roll, who was censored and forbidden to play in large venues in spite of his obviously pro Maoist lyrics.

How do you ban this?!

Typical representation of the genre; gentle ambiance and slow symphonic buildup characterize post rock; notable traditional elements also blend in to contribute

Post Rock as a Silent Protest?

Yes, things sadly don't seem to be improving much, in spite of a growing awareness of international culture and ideas in China. As I said above though, certain outlets seem to be thriving, and I was rather surprised to discover which ones they were:

Apparently, "Post-Rock" has been making a huge splash in the chinese-music industry for the past decade or so. For those of you who don't know, Post-Rock is a very diverse genre which incorporates Rock instruments in ways that don't emulate traditional rock music. What you get instead are gradual, often symphonic melodies accompanied by crescendos and a heavy amount of musical experimentation. Giants of this genre include groups such as Godspeed you! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, and World's End Girlfriend. (...and I'm just scathing the surface!)

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto the richly colored palette of sounds that is chinese post-rock This actually makes a lot of sense; most post rock is instrumental, so it would be hard for the government to crack down on a genre that isn't directly subversive. A lot of the pieces I've heard are very diverse, and help capture a more diverse range of emotion than current popular trends in the PRC. I remember stumbling into this world for the first time around two years ago, when I randomly downloaded the album "Asian River" by Hua Lun. I was instantly captivated by the high quality post rock which transcended the boundaries of popular music by incorporating traditional Chinese scales and desolate riffs which made me feel like I was in ancient China. I would highly recommend searching for and listening to that album. Here's a sample:

Wang Wen, one of China's more notable acts (Uploaded by Barry Wang)

Are you Ready to Post Rock?!! (Silence...)

Post rock is known in China as "Houyao" (后摇), and is being pioneered by artists in Beijing and the city of Dalian. Unfortunately, I'm still not too familiar with this subset of the genre, but I know that one of the most prominent acts is Wang Wen, whose songs I find too beautiful to describe.

A Personal Favorite (Uploader: kXipu)

I look forward to seeing the further emergence and propagation of this scene, and hope that it'll receive the proper attention from the international community that it deserves. Until then, I'll be monitoring Chinese popular culture closely!

Obviously all intellectual properties belong to their respective owners!!!


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