Chinese New Years Music
Heart of the Dragon Ensemble
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Released in a timely manner for 2007's Chinese New Year, this album from the England-based Heart of the Dragon Ensemble runs through the range of New Year music, with a massive ensemble (backed in part by the also-massive Beijing National Traditional Music Orchestra) belting out a mix of silk-and-bamboo music and some particularly boisterous percussion (the cymbals just never stop). The music is non-stop, happy, and up-tempo throughout, plowing through both traditional and new compositions alike with seeming reckless abandon. The first two tracks lay on the percussion rather thick (the "Lion Dance" needs it, of course), but while the percussion mellows a bit as the album progresses, the tempo and energy only increase. There are plenty of silk and bamboo albums available on the market in the Chinese classical realm, but classical stylings rarely show this much speed and power. New Year's music is one of the instances where Chinese music breaks free of its usual contemplation and philosophy in favor of sheer noise production. The full range of instrumentation is here, and may provide a fair introduction to the various sounds for a new listener. At the same time, the individual instruments tend to be somewhat crushed under the weight of the ensemble as a whole. A good niche album by any account.
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