Re-TROS - Before The Applause album review

Heroes of Chinese underground ready for global acclaim

Re-TROS - Before The Applause album artwork

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This is the first British release from the Beijing-based group who formed in 2003 and were described by John Lydon as his favourite “new” band. Re-TROS (Rebuilding The Rights Of Statues) cite as influences Bauhaus, Joy Division, Television, Pere Ubu, Battles, Liars and Futureheads: post-punk outfits and latter-day proponents of the same. Actually, they can sound like hardcore synth punks, with a heavy techno/trance element, their music hitting with brute force, using insistence and repetition to mesmeric effect. But there’s an Enoesque intelligence too. Indeed, the brainy one contributed guest keyboards to their 2005 debut Cut Off! EP. Produced by Hector Castillo, Before The Applause is experimental but embraceable, even danceable, especially the nine-minute analogue assault of Hailing Drums, At Mosp Here’s 12 minutes of prog-disco delirium, and the pulsating 8 + 2 + 8 I and companion track 8 + 2 + 8 II, which comprise 15 minutes of cataclysmic clapping and Huang Jin’s Teutonic drumming. Frontman Hua Dong tends to ‘sing’ in an absurdist gruff monotone à la Yello’s Dieter Meier, but it’s offset by female bassist Liu Min’s blankly pretty counterpoint. Riveting.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.