• 王三溥 / Darkness over Depth - 东西 / East and West (2013) - Magical journey through Eastern and Western music - 90% (07/12/14)

    王三溥 / Darkness over Depth - 东西 / East and West (2013)

    “East and West” is not an official Darkness over Depth release but rather a collaborative project between Chengdu-based multi-instrumentalist Kasasis, the mastermind behind one-man project Darkness over Depth, and his Chinese label colleague Zwrust, the mastermind behind the one-man project of the same name. Both projects wrote symphonic music with a dark touch in the past. While Darkness over Depth had some obvious instrumental and vocal metal influences in the past, Zwrust always had a much softer, more simplistic and quite natural approach and was a neoclassical ambient project. This collaboration rather follows the second approach and can’t be considered a metal album at all.

    These two musicians deliver an entirely instrumental record. Dramatic string samples meet appeasing piano melodies and the occasional use of traditional Chinese folk music while modern instruments are nearly completely absent. Stylistically, this record is situated somewhere between the calmer examples of neofolk, new age and world music with a few selected vivid exceptions that could perfectly work as soundtracks for motion pictures. 

    The opening duo offers surprisingly dramatic, fast and vivid classical music with a few choirs. This kind of music would fit as theme for epic traditional war movies like ‘’Red Cliff’’. Both tracks are great pompous songs to open the album but they are also quite misleading. They don’t really prepare the listener to what is really going to happen on this record. 

    The next few songs all have a grounded tone with simplistic instrumental work inspired by classical music, mainly piano sounds, and Chinese folk instruments. Atmosphere is what matters here as most songs are neither catchy, nor diversified, nor innovating. Simply put, this is almost meditative ambient music.

    Track six “Moon Return” introduces a new chapter within the album and can be considered a standout song. It’s the first to partially mix modern electronic sounds to the classical instruments and traditional folk sounds. This track recalls bands such as Enigma, Era or Robert Miles.

    The pace of the album slowly increases as the ninth song “Flurry” is another important mark of this album. This track is the first to add drums and a few hints at electric string instruments. It’s still not a rock or metal track but this progressive addition of more modern instruments is definitely grabbing the attention of the listener and slightly increasing the intensity of this album. 

    “2011” is the only song which could be described as symphonic folk metal as it even includes an extensive electric guitar solo, a fast-paced bass guitar and drum play and a few choirs in the middle section. Even though I entirely adore the project’s calmer tracks, I must admit that this is the most outstanding song on here because its intensity is working extremely efficiently on an otherwise stripped down album.

    If we leave aside the vivid opening duo and the calm piano driven closer, this release can be divided into three different parts. The four songs in the beginning are nature-bound ambient music, the three tracks in the middle part offer electronic new age music and the last four pieces are more modern neofolk or symphonic folk metal tunes with percussion and even a few electric instruments such as bass and guitar. By taking a look at the number of songs, you will realize that this album is very balanced and harmonious and that the progression of this release has a clear guiding line. Step by step, it moves from the most simplistic sound and the use of traditional instruments to a more energizing sound comprising several contemporary instruments. Just as the title says, the album represents both traditional and contemporary musical cultures from “East and West”. This release requests some attention, calm and time to unfold but rewards the listener with a spiritual journey where classical music, traditional Chinese folk music, ambient electronica and small excerpts of contemporary neofolk with heavy metal instruments embrace in equal parts. This record might have a very specific clientele but those who accept the fluid mixture of genres mentioned above will find this record as magical as I do. This is one of my greatest musical discoveries of the year and a true hidden gem that should get more promotion.

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