Ballads of a troubadour from Gobi Desert in Central Asia. Wang Xiao was born in Karamay, Xinjiang in 1966. His parents are oil exploration workers. From childhood, he followed his parents to live and grow up in the wilderness of Gobi Desert. In 1989 he quit his oil field job and started traveling as a troubadour. He has lived in Tibet for 10 years and now resides in Yunnan. “In my memory, there is no ‘home’ concept, just keep moving from place to place”.
The album is clearly not “indie city folk”, nor is it “world music”. However, after years of immersion in the vein of Central Asian culture, the influence of traditional music from various Central Asian regions is obvious. The whole album is dark and deep, like the rocks in the desert. The occasional overtone singing plays well with the dombra tone, the musician is seeking the divine nature of the universe. “Folk singers in the past were poets and sorcerers themselves. They could only sing after divination and sacrifice, or by helping people to predict diseases, fortunes, planting and family affairs. Folk singers should be the ones who atone for the lives.”
The symbolic and poetic lyrics are also an important part for the album. With Lu (Heartless/Vergissmeinnicht/Mandarava), Edward Sanderson and Josh Feola's help, we included the full Chinese lyrics with English translation, it will help the listener to have a better understanding of Wang Xiao’s music.
The album was recorded in the winter of 2007 in Beijing. “At that time, it was just me, Wu Junde and Wu Tun to do this recording. They bought me some wine, we drank them and recorded the album (dombra and vocal) for only two hours, then I went back to Tibet right after.” Wu Junde and Obul added tanbur, mouth harp, more vocals and percussions afterward. “We didn’t feel it’s a very good album at first. The tempo is not always right because we didn’t use a metronome, but as you listened to it for a long time, it was great. It's a record that can't be repeated, because it's made at one go, and it's very straight.”
Previously self-published as CDr in 2010, now we reissue this album as a Ten Year Anniversary Edition, with new graphic design and a bonus track “Refugee of Faith on the Ancient River Bank” recorded in 2016. All tracks are carefully remastered by our friend Cyril Meysson.
“Black Horse River, for me, is my real motherland.” – Wang Xiao
“His voice is original, it’s a blend of a shaman and the characteristics of the nomadic people. His way to play dombra is unusual, not with the finger but a plectrum, that makes the music fiercer and more rhythmic. Wang Xiao spent many years in Lhasa, he also put the rhythm of the monks chanting into his music, all these make his works dialoguing with the sun and the earth, it contains the essence from the land and the passing time.” - Zhang Zhi 張智（旅行者樂隊）
“I came up with the nickname ‘Folk shaman’. I met Wang Xiao back in 2002-2003, when he was still a rock-n-roll young guy in Shenzhen, but his mental state was like channeling with a shaman or a minstrel. It may have something to do with his life experience, mysterious and unique.” - Wu Junde
Music/Lyrics/Vocals: Wang Xiao
(Except "Wild Geese" Lyrics by Sa Dao & Wang Xiao, "Cover Song" Original singer Li Shirong, Music/Lyrics by Lei Zhenbang, rearranged by Wang Xiao)
Dombra: Wang Xiao (Track 1-10)
Guitar: Wu Junde (Track 1)
Mouth Harp: Wu Junde (Track 5)
Chorus: Wu Junde (Track 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Tanbur: Wu Junde (Track 4,8)
Percussions: Obul (Track 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Recorded by Wu Weiyi in Beijing, China, winter 2007, previously self-released in 2010
(Except bonus track “Refugee of Faith on the Ancient River Bank” recorded in 2016)
Remastered by Cyril Meysson in Saint-Étienne, France, January 2019
English lyrics translated by Lu (Heartless/Vergissmeinnicht/Mandarava)
Proofread by Edward Sanderson & Josh Feola
Cover art: Wang Yuanqing, Photography: Li Ming, Design & Layout: ruò tán
Special thanks to Wu Tun & Wu Junde