Tan Dun – Martial Arts Trilogy: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Banquet & Hero (Music from the Soundtracks) (2011)

It’s rare we have a release like this. Tan Dun is a famous Chinese classical composer who features on this album. For anyone who finds Chinese history and culture fascinating, here is a great way to discover some of that, at least musically. It’s a mixture of music from three different Chinese films. Let’s have a listen here to discover some of the great Chinese classical music at hand.

We begin with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon title track. It has a haunting melody and beautiful Chinese instrumentation at hand. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra lead on, eventually leading in with violins and other classical instrumentation. It’s so beautiful that you never want to forget this piece. Epic. A nice introduction to this sort of music, it ends sounding glorious.

The next piece The Eternal Vow is a melancholy, yet pacing piece to listen to. It is merely a continuation of what has come before, but sounds so lovely and beautiful that it demands close listening. It is surely one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever made. Terrific stuff.

Silk Road harks back to a traditional sounding piece of music that most westerners would never have the opportunity to hear in their lives. Ladies and gentleman, this is something one should listen to before they die. Chinese classical music is fantastic, and this is no exception.

A Love Before Time is a pacing and lovely sounding tune with English female vocals. It’s different for sure, but sounds fantastic. It takes the main melody from the previous pieces and makes a great song out of it. A good listen, still sounding different from anything else out there.

The next piece, The Banquet – From “The Banquet” is a subtle piano piece with some distant sounding Chinese instrumentation and melodies in the background. Some gospel vocals are here too, it’s a nice sounding instrumental at hand. It changes pace surprisingly towards the end.

After that, we have Waiting – From “The Banquet”. This is a more typical piece that one would find in a movie. It’s a piano and violin piece that soothes the soul. A nice, gentle and understandable listen for this album.

In The Bamboo Forest – From “The Banquet” is a low end piano and percussion piece that goes together well. It is propelled along with a chugging rhythm, and sounds pretty neat. It then has orchestra sections in it as well. Chanted vocals then appear. The percussion then overtakes the listening experience.

Sword Dance – From “The Banquet” is a continuation of the previous piece, yet with a more orchestrated and beautiful classical background that is more traditional of western music. It’s a lovely sounding piece, although short.

The next piece, Only For Love – From “The Banquet” has Chinese singing, which is really beautiful, along with a traditional European sort of classical music setting. It’s an interesting mixture, and is just as good as the other songs here. Nice. It’s soothing and reassuring.

The next piece, Overture, starts off with a Chinese based melody. It then has some traditional Chinese drumming propelling the piece along. It’s not as melancholy as some of the other pieces on this album, at least to begin with, but it still works effectively. It’s a nice listen all the same. Good stuff. More backing gospel harmonies are here, too.

Tan Dun’s most famous piece, For The World, arrives next. It’s a sad and beautiful piece that is extremely moving emotionally. It is a must hear if you enjoy this sort of music, undeniably beautiful. It’s a greatly orchestrated piece of emotion here. Gorgeous.

Sorrow In Desert is a lonely sounding piece that has some prominent drum sounds in it. It’s an image evoking and soundscape sort of piece for listening. Brilliant stuff here, worth a listen.

Farewell, Hero is the last piece on this album. It’s another sad and moving instrumental here. One could even be moved to tears listening to this album, but hey, that is what some of the music here is like. Gospel harmonies and violins are here to be heard.

Although this is merely a film soundtrack, it is definitely worth hearing for something different out there. It’s worth the time, and any Chinese culture fan should take a listen to this. It’s a good representation of these three films set to music.


Silverchair – The Best Of Volume One (2000)

Silverchair are the quintessential post Grunge band. They mixed metal riffs and a variety of Grunge like sounds into a poppy context. Daniel Johns and the band originated from Australia, another indicator of a strange twist to the musical world.

The songs here are really quite good. It covers most of the band’s trajectory to that point. It is simply a good collection of songs.

Let’s dive in and have a look.

Anthem For The Year 2000 begins the listening experience. It’s likely the best political song ever. “We are the youth, we’ll take your Fascism away.” It’s their best song on this recording too. An excellent riff heavy masterpiece. The video for this song was very George Orwellian as well. Some interesting sound effects are here as well.

Freak is a riff heavy and catchy song by the group. It’s an okay song, but perhaps not as consistent as the other songs on the album. “If only I could be as cool as you” is the afterthought on the matter.

The next song is Ana’s Song (Open Fire). This song is a love song, but a very good one at that. There seems to be a psychedelic influence on this one. But it’s a radio ready and good catchy love song here.

The symphonic Emotion Sickness is a calm sounding ballad but is full of rage. It’s a reference to distraught emotions within. It sounds pretty cool, and is a nice change for a Silverchair song. When Daniel Johns screams “GET UP!” you can hear the urgency and pleading in his voice. Great stuff.

Israel’s Son is a surprising and amazing riff heavy piece. It just sounds mega and epic. It refers directly to religious based pain, and the ending is an epic surprise. “Put your hands in the air!” is screamed over and over before the song explodes in your face. A brilliant piece.

Tomorrow follows. It’s a much calmer piece at hand than the previous number. There are some great lyrics in this number. It sounds like proto-Nickelback (but much better than that band by any measure) and is a good listen.

The next song Cemetery is a subdued number. It is a beautiful ballad like piece, which shows the depth of songwriting here. Not bad for easy listening.

The follow up The Door is a much more rocking piece. It is a great song about nothing in particular, but rocks out well. It’s a great rock piece to chill to.

Miss You Love is the next song. It’s a gentle and nice sort of song. It has some contradictory lyrics: “I love the way you love, but I hate the way I am supposed to love you back.” It’s an interesting and good listen.

Abuse Me is likely one of those teenage angst type songs. It invites the idea of just taking a lot of nonsense from someone else. It sounds chilled for such an angry piece. It tells to throw the sailors overboard as well. Interesting.

The next song Pure Massacre slowly breaks into a loud, raw and rocking piece. It sounds like classic rock here. It would be interesting to know what gear these guys were using. Nonetheless, it’s a good listen.

The next song which is Untitled sounds rather weak. There’s nothing really special or interesting about this song. But hey, better than Nickelback though.

New Race is a much better song, directed at young teens about growing up and being a stronger individual. It’s fast and furious, a much better piece from the group. Enjoyable listening. Some chanting at the end is very good.

Trash begins with some distorted piano playing, before launching into some detuned riffing and then some great screaming afterwards. It’s a track for emphasis for sure. A trip for the Grunge generation.

The Ana’s Song (Open Fire) – Acoustic Remix is a great remix with some varied instrumentation and melodies. It sounds even better than the original does. It’s just a great listen. What a killer song.

The following piece Madman – Vocal Mix is a great textured Grunge guitar madness. It has some warped bass chugging along in the background, along with some great guitar work. Nice effort here.

Blind is another song. It sounds like a cover. It’s really not a very good song at all, despite the unsuspecting tempo change. At this point, the album gets a little boring, sadly. It goes on too long as well.

Punk Song 2 sounds raw and unrelenting in its approach. It’s a great song about being like a punk, although it too may be a cover. Nice to hear here.

Wasted / Fix Me is definitely a good medley of two different covers. In fact, it is better than the originals. A good job here by the group.

The next cover here, Minor Threat is another good cover. The album is quite weak on the second half, despite this being a good cover.

The last piece is the Freak – Remix for Us Rejects and is a great remix of the original song earlier on this compilation. It ends the album nicely.

This album by far is not the greatest album ever. But still, if you dig Post Grunge, this is not a bad starting point. The covers on the second half may make this album quite a lot weaker, but it is still a good listen.