Wu Man is quite possibly the greatest Pipa player who is alive today. Being an avid student of Chinese music and the Pipa, she won the first National Academic Competition for Chinese Instruments in the People’s Republic Of China and has made an impressive impression on the musical world with her playing. Although she now lives in the USA, Wu Man’s influence in the world of Chinese Classical Music is not to be underestimated. Hence this album which is a collaborative effort. This is a great starting point for Chinese instrumental based music with the Pipa, and therefore must be listened to and observed here. Let’s hear this album.

Nandere begins this album with a great mixture of Chinese instruments, notably the Pipa and sounds excellent. A male singing voice enters which honestly sounds strange, foreign and takes a bit to get used to. Still, this music is excellent and showcases a different musical side to just straightforward Pipa instrumentals. The melody played is extremely catchy and proves that anyone who has a passing interest in Chinese music should own a Pipa. Great stuff anyway and this shows the true World Music influence of this instrument. A really ecstatic and powerful sounding tune, this is brilliant. It ends after under three minutes in length, a great listen.

Love Song begins with beautiful wind instrumentation, somewhat akin to a Chinese flute. It is beautifully and wonderfully played, and sounds very decent. A really interesting beginning to a track, it is quickly followed by gorgeous Pipa playing. The two main instruments promptly compete for space here, and the whole thing sounds incredibly pretty and lovely. After all, there is deep romanticism in the music and playing here. This is followed by some more western style guitar and some gorgeous harmonics in the left channel on the Pipa. This is really fantastic, and sounds a lot like the works of Progressive Rock musicians Yes, in a strange way. The Pipa playing becomes more animated throughout, and this is a really sweet tune. A lovely piece of music, this works extremely well. This is a great taste of the music of the Far East, and teaches one the fact that great music is universal. This is pretty and moving music, with a great mesh of instrumental playing. Unique, adventurous and different, Wu Man and Friends do a great job here. Gorgeous music, a great slice of five minute instrumentation.

White Snow In A Sunny Spring begins with some impressive Pipa playing and tells a musical story (without lyrics) of the title of the track. This is gorgeous, any fan of China or Chinese culture should hear this tune. A really excellent piece of instrumental music, it sounds marvellous. Wu Man shows the world exactly who is the Queen of Pipa playing, and does so in great form. A great piece of playing, with precise and wonderful Pipa fills, words cannot do enough justice on the playing here, with some string Funk style snapping here as well. Brilliant and moving, this is an excellent listen. There are many moments of great suspense here, and as the listener one will be delighted, provided you dig this sort of music. A fine and fantastic piece of playing, this sounds amazing and impressive. An effortless piece, it ends with a sped up frenzied outro that is intense. Wonderful.

I’m Going Back To North Carolina has Pipa and Banjo, which are very similar sounding instruments, to be fair. This is a different tune with some clear English sung lyrics illustrating the Country overtones of this musical piece. A weird combination of musical styles, it is clear that this music is devoted to a more mainstream audience to those who desire something rather than just straightforward Pipa playing. It is beautiful and wonderful to hear, and also has some acoustic guitar present as well. This proves that Led Zeppelin should have used some Pipas in their work. This pseudo-Country piece is only two minutes long, but it works well musically. Nice tune.

Raining begins with some simple and plucked Pipa melodic parts that are slow and beautiful. This is suspenseful, and it does some great wonders here. Soon enough, some acoustic guitar enters in the opposing right channel and this tune gets underway. A brilliant, beautiful and pretty mixture of sound, it is exactly what you need to hear when it is pouring rain outside. A really interesting and great piece of music, this is exciting and very, very good. A lovely listening experience, it sure sounds magical. It’s not the fastest nor most shred-like piece of music out there, but it works excellently. There is an unique set of rhythmic values to this piece, and the wonders of stereo channel divide sound excellent here. Some singing in Mandarin Chinese then enters, possibly by Wu Man herself. A lively, spirited and pretty tune to hear, this sounds impressive. The singing concludes after a bit with some deep harmonies that are nicely mixed into the tune, and the tune gets a nice fade out at the end. Sweet.

Dance Of The Yi People is the longest piece on the album at over seven minutes long. It is incredibly beautiful and gorgeous from the start, with frenetic Pipa plucking here. This is incredibly sweet sounding, and Chinese music and culture has a great deal of depth and spirituality about it. This instrumental is a great listen for those who dig traditional Chinese music. It stops briefly, followed by some gorgeous melodic soloing that would make David Gilmour jealous if he were into Chinese music. Nonetheless, there is depth, light and shade to this music, and it is very interesting listening throughout. A sweet piece of Pipa playing, this is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon styled territory designed for home listening. It is a brilliant solo Pipa performance that sounds great and just works superbly. Towards the middle of the tune, it picks up and gets more frenetic sounding. This is brilliant and excellent music to meditate along with, or doing something similar. It eventually gets up to an amazing climax in the second half of the tune, just sounding resoundingly brilliant. A musically descriptive tune, this sounds incredibly and wonderfully played and sounds great for Chinese Pipa instrumental work. The music present here is spellbound and amazing to listen to, and towards the end is some Pipa work somewhat reminiscent of Van Halen’s Little Guitars (Intro). Eventually, this approaches the end of the piece with some pretty and slow melodic Pipa work that sounds top. The piece ends with some quick musical flourishes, before ending with a single note. Excellent.

Cossack Lament is a shorter piece with some interesting guitar styled work in the right channel to begin with, followed by some deep Opera style vocals. Again, this is a record for the Western music listener in mind. It is a strange mixture, but again it works exceptionally well and does sound really nice. It’s a surprisingly relaxing listening experience. This quickly has some nicely played Pipa movements by Wu Man and although this piece is slow, it is very intense. The music here is different, but a cool mixture of talent and sound. Eventually, it peaks in the second half with a great deal of singing, frenetic Pipa playing and volume. It quickly stops a great deal of this sound and movement, just before it picks up again. This is extremely good to hear, and proves that music has no boundaries. This concludes with a good and slow mixture of Opera vocals and Pipa playing. Not bad.

Old Joe Clark begins with some interesting sounds, as though Pipa is being played through a flanger and wah-wah pedal. This is quickly followed by some Pipa and Acoustic Guitar work, quickly followed up by slide guitar. It is a bit odd, but it works nicely anyway. More of the Country music themes are present here, as the male Country singer from earlier on in the album returns. This is a very pretty and lovely listen, and the singing is about missing a pretty girl from the past. It ends with the weird sounds from the beginning of the tune, along with some more Pipa. Great though, despite its weirdness.

Bat-Out-Of-Hell Kozachok obviously refers to the Meat Loaf album. It begins with harpsichord, Pipa, and other instrumentation to sound excellent, provided that you have an open mind for this music. This is great for what it is, and it sounds rather dark and eerie throughout. The music here sounds like the sort of stuff that is a mixture of past, present and future in musical terms. It works very, very well and has excellent Pipa playing to whet your appetite. If you enjoy unusual music with Pipa, this should be a great starting point for you. It is a shorter piece that ends slowly and gradually, just before the three minute long mark. Sweet.

Waves Lapping At The Shore begins with some slow plucking of the Pipa, which gradually enters into the piece of music present. This is extremely suspenseful, and is worth your ears. This eventually gets going with some fantastic Pipa plucking away, and just does a great deal of musical justice here. This is very fruitful and beautiful to listen to. Wu Man deserves every credit for this mindblowing and wonderful music on this album, and elsewhere. It just works wonderfully and exceptionally well. This solo Pipa piece sounds dramatic and pretty, and has some of the best playing on the instrument that you will ever hear. It definitely sounds fantastic and really lovely to hear, showcasing a great Chinese musical talent on the instrument. A wonderful and pretty piece of instrumental, this is no doubt worth hearing if you ever wish to explore China and the Far East musically. It sure sounds great. A fine piece of musical craft, it speeds up impressively and gradually at the end. A really top piece of instrumental music, it breaks into a frenzy of Pipa playing, before concluding with some loose Pipa parts that sound top. Brilliant.

Night Rider is the last piece here, and has a good mixture of Western and Eastern melodies and instrumentation on it. It sounds like a dark and foreboding musical taste for the sort of situation that it musically describes. Still, this is excellent and it works extremely well. Soon enough, this dark sounding tune powers on very well, and is a bit of an odd finish to a varied album. The music is impressive all the same, and just delivers exactly what is needed. The playing goes into stop/start mode, and the second half continues the dark melodies. A really cool and excellent piece of music, this gradually concludes with a slow and subtle finish. Good tune.

This is a crossover East/West album of Pipa based Chinese music. It is also a fantastic album for those who seriously want to hear some decent Chinese instrumentals. There is a very slight flaw to this music, and that is the weirdness won’t be appreciated by all, and some Chinese Pipa purists may be put off the Country flavoured parts here, in particular. Still, Wu Man retains her status as the pivotal Pipa instrumentalist, and this album works well, for the most part. World Music fans in particular will appreciate this release.

Beautiful, yet different.