You gotta feel sorry for Gwei-lo: here they are, four young
lads riding high on the tide of the resurgence of instrumental
rock music, drawing the attention of Simon Raymonde and his
Bella Union label, recording an album, and then, while playing
their first gig, the lead guitarist keels over dead on the spot
from one of those wierd, congenital defects that no doctor would
ever find unless they were specifically looking for it. So much
effort, preparation, anticipation, and then extreme sorrow and
We should all feel disappointed, since Gwei-lo showed tremendous
potential. There are some moments of sheer brilliance on this
CD. Rarely does that brilliance carry through an entire song,
but it's still there. Given time, they might have made some
But enough mourning lost opportunities. Let's consider the
reality of this one testament that Gwei-lo leave us.
It is the first release in Bella Union's "Series Seven", which
is scheduled to be seven albums of seven tracks each of instrumental
music. An interesting gimmick i guess.
As i said earlier, Gwei-lo are riding high on the tide of instrumental
rock music currently so trendy with the kids these days. You
know, the stuff popularized by bands such as Mogwai and Godspeed
You Black Emperor! (NOTE: samples do not count as vocals). In
other words, Post-Rock, or, what i am reviewing today.
I mentioned that i think the two big Post-Rock bands are Mogwai
and Godspeed You Black Emperor! (For now, just accept that.)
So if those two bands are the "founders", then each traces a
certain line of descendents in the Post-Rock Family Tree. In
the case of Gwei-lo, this line goes from Mogwai to Ganger to
Gwei-lo. That is to say, Gwei-lo remind me a lot of Ganger,
who, when you get down to it, are reminiscent of Mogwai. That
is to say, guitars played in complicated rhythms with alternating
sections of light melodic arpeggio and extreme noisy distortion.
Oh, and a lack of vocals.
Now, with Mogwai the lack of vocals was natural - they were
doing things with melody that just seemed to imply that singing
would get in the way. With Ganger it seemed a little odd --
like maybe some of the songs should have had vocals but didn't,
and for the most part it was okay. Well, with Gwei-lo there
are times when i really kinda wish that there was light half-muttered
words layered over top of the guitarwork. It would just make
the songs more interesting. However, well, i get the feeling
that Gwei-lo would not do this because it "breaks genre". Whatever.
So there you go. This album is very typical of it's genre,
that being Mogwai-derived Post-rock. There are moments when
things sound great, and moments where things sound like they
could be improved. If you are a big fan of the genre you will
find enjoyment in this CD. For everyone else it makes good background