Yin: Guangzhou Post-Rock Band Zhaoze Converses With the Birds


Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

If you, like me, are ready to take a swirling psychedelic nosedive into the weekend, I might recommend the latest from Guangzhou post-rock band Zhaoze:


Birds Contending (争鸣), a thoroughly cinematic 43-minute track, was released in late November, following the August release of a remixed version of their brilliant 2011 sophomore album, 1911. The new composition was recorded almost entirely in a forest in Zottegem, Belgium, with the sound of the titular contentious birds (perhaps a subtle Sufi shoutout?) mixing beautifully with guitar, drums, bass, celesta, and Zhaoze leader Hoyliang’s trademark electric guqin and xiao (bamboo flute).

As wonderful as they are on record, Zhaoze is a band that truly blows minds live — a feat they’ve repeated on multiple stages across multiple continents over the years. Here’s a music video from 2015 that gives a better visual sense of the delicate balance they strike between traditional Chinese and Western rock instrumentation:

Hear more Zhaoze here, and follow their latest comings and goings via Facebook.

You might also like:

Yin: Xie Yugang and Serge Teyssot-Gay’s “Nano World”

Folk Artist Xiao He Releases a New Album via WeChat

“Without Having to Dance”: Kunming Composer Broken Thoughts

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.
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