October 20, 2021

Wang Wen is one of those cryptic bands that have somehow passed me by in their 22 year history but then I do believe that post-rock groups do tend to be both mysterious and low key when it comes to getting the name out there in the market place. Add the factor that the band comes from Dalian in China which then places further hurdles in their quest for worldwide acclaim. However, it seems that the long and winding route is now paying dividends with 100,000 Whys being hailed as the bands most complete and accessible album to date.

Wang Wen has accumulated quite a back catalogue with 100,000 Whys being album number 11 so be warned that if you are new to them, as am I, then an extensive trawl through earlier albums may prove costly. In many respects, Wang Wen are the archetypal post-rock band in that their song are slow and beautiful pieces that boil and bubble away as they slowly build up the tension until it is released in a hugely explosive climax and then they do it again and again and again. The quality of the band’s playing is exemplary as they hit you with a wall of sound that is welcoming and embracing yet, at the same time, just a little sinister and smothering. Neat guitar and soaring synthesisers are at the core of the band’s sound and the music is technical and challenging enough so that you do not miss the absence of vocals as you get drawn slowly but surely into their world.

Huge praise must be showered upon Xie Yugang and Geng Xin on guitars, Zheng Zi on bass and Lian Jiang on drums as they pace the music to perfection and all are true masters of their craft. Take the technical brilliance of Radiohead, add the aloofness of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the genius of Mogwai and a dash of John Murphy as heard on his genre defining In A Heartbeat from the 28 Days Later soundtrack and you have Wang Wen, surely one of China’s greatest ever exports.

All we need to do now is spread the name far and wide. If you’re interested, the rather curious album name comes from a quote from Rudyard Kipling’s poem I Keep Six Honest Serving Men which the band thought reflected the confusion and indecision caused by the outbreak of COVID, a subject that will surely be reflected on for years to come in both music and literature!

100,000 Whys track list

  1. Forgotten (6:50)
  2. The Ghost (8:42)
  3. Wu Wu Road (7:20)
  4. If Tomorrow Comes (5:53)
  5. A Beach Bum (9:13)
  6. Lonely Bird (7:05)
  7. Shut Up And Play (8:58)
  8. Forgotten Rover (8:20)