Review Summary: A progressive/post-rock/metal surprise from Hong Kong with some excellent guitar work.
There’s always a certain rush these days when you accidentally stumble upon an artist on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Last or wherever that simply piques your interest, indicating you might be on a road to true musical discovery. It can remind you of the days (for those that can remember them) when you can take as much time looking at the cover and artwork of a vinyl album of an artist unknown to you, without truly knowing what you will get until you take it home and spin it on your record player.
Today, that route is much quicker, and by such chance, I run into Hong Kong solo musician Oliver Cheung and his three-song debut EP (quite hefty, time-wise though) Remembrance. Just reading those cursory ‘sounds like’ and genre descriptions, you wouldn’t get anything that would particularly stimulate you to take a listen, unless, for example, you weren’t already in for some progressive rock/metal or are into Porcupine Tree or Dream Theatre.
Ok, maybe Oliver himself is a fan of these two bands, but what you play these three long tracks you realize that his musical roots and interests are much more varied and deep. The fact that he started out in classical music playing cello could, but does not necessarily mean that it has to be so. In Oliver’s case, it obviously did.
So, yes, you hear traces of bands like Porcupine Tree and other modern or not so modern progressive groups. But, a few minutes into the opening title track, and you can be immediately be reminded of The Bitch Magnet’s early Nineties progressive/metal/post-rock masterpiece Ben Hur or more modern post-rock/progressive masters like Godspeed! You Black Emperor.
What particularly impresses, and where cello practice certainly helped, is Cheung’s guitar work, which can already be labeled as exceptional, particularly when it can be heard that he doesn’t rely on almost any effect pedals or such. But what is most important, Cheung is no guitar show-off that is all histrionics and nothing else, he does really well at constructing songs with time signatures and neglecting such ‘simple’ things as melody.
Since Remembrance is a one-man project, Cheung does quite well in covering the fact that there is no human rhythm section, but it is certain that his music could definitely benefit from one, particularly if he intends to perform live. On the evidence of this debut EP, he definitely should.