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(48:22; Cold Fairyland)
This 2007 studio album was the third from Chinese band Cold Fairyland, and apart from a 2016 re-recording of material is their most recent, although Lin Di (vocals, keyboards, pipa, ruan) has been releasing solo albums since then. The line-up is completed by Su Yong (bass, vocals), Zhou Shengan (cello, vocals), Li Jia (drums, vocals) and Song Jian Feng (guitars, vocals) and this is much more of an acoustic album than the live one (the only other album of theirs I have heard), with little in the way of drums. It is far more folk oriented, with a higher emphasis on traditional instruments, yet the contrast of plucked pipa/ruan against a bowed cello is simply lush. Lin Diís vocals are clear, emotional, and very much to the fore (although there are also many instrumentals) and the overall feeling is of a complex blending together of different styles and traditions which is both complex and simplistic at the same time. There is a real strength in the arrangements, and one is never quite sure where the music is going to go next. It is an incredibly light and refreshing album, recorded at a time when the band was quite settled and working well as a unit. I know that since this release there have been some tours and line-up changes, with Li Din also working as a solo artist, but their website (thankfully available in English as well as Chinese) gives the impression that this is still a working band and one can only hope that means we will be hearing more from these guys at some point. The live album is far more dynamic and punchier than this one, yet this has a beauty from the performances and stylings, and it is hard to pick a favourite. Both albums are worthy of further investigation and I can see I need to search out the earlier releases as well as Lin Diís solo work. With all their albums now easily available through Bandcamp, there is nothing to stop anyone discovering the melding together of Chinese traditional music and progressive rock which is Cold Fairyland.
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