[4 September 2008]
Xu Xu Fang’s style is not easy to pin down. While the first three tracks on their latest EP, The Mourning Son, play like a cross of Pink Floyd and Slowdive, the closing piece is a nearly 14-minute-long droning beast. Up until that point, however, the album plays a lot like a rainy day spent at the beach. The waves crashing during the intro obviously exude that feeling, but the atmospheric nature of Xu Xu Fang’s music rings true in every track. On “These Days”, your ears are treated to crashing cymbals that mesh perfectly with the psychedelic, Dark Side of the Moon-inspired guitars which have a mind of their own. And then there are the hazy, shoegazing vocals that add another layer to the already dense song.
The following tracks, “The Mourning Son” and “Good Times Have Gone Away”, carry on the sound echoing forth from “These Days”. Marching band drums draw you in before they are eclipsed by the ethereal singing and thudding keys on “The Mourning Son”. While “Good Times Have Gone Away” plays like a heavier piece from Souvlaki, it also oozes hints of classic rock, particularly during the chorus. Remember that rainy-day feeling I touched on? Well, it hits full throttle on “Terra Scura”. Equal parts drone and simple storm recordings, the track is a mammoth to listen to at night. The booming thunder and subtle noise play like a Sunn O))) experiment without any of the harsh vocals. Although “Terra Scura” is certainly not a painless listen, it proves that Xu Xu Fang is not satisfied with playing straightforward, albeit fantastic, music. And here’s hoping that this band of oddballs keeps pining away in the studio, because it’s not hard to tell there is something truly great brewing throughout this EP.