Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Guo Brothers and Shung Tian: Yuan [RealWorld, 1990]
Produced by Pól Brennan of Clannad, the insufferable lace-curtain-Irish folkies who bequeathed Enya unto the world, and with Guo Yue's Chinese flute and Guo Yi's Chinese mouth organ carrying the melodies and Guo Liang's plucked Chinese harp plenty prominent, the instrumental affinities are self-evident. So I worry about the spiritual affinities. My working theory is that Maoist aesthetics knows the difference between dignity and gentility, enabling these exiles to formalize folk music into art music without draining its life away. Of course, this could be utter fancy--just as likely some arbitrary synthesis of acculturation and deep bodily need inclines me toward Chinese scales. But for sure their jaunty-to-haunting tunes and mood pieces eschew the comfortable sheen one associates with Pól Brennan, not to mention the comfortable pulse one associates with Kitaro. B+