Hyukoh have returned with the album ‘23‘, and while “Wanli” is not a title track off that album, it did get a music video and basically everything about this is amazing.
Goddamn, what the fuck? This is that shit.
The instrumental alone is enough to make this a success. Starting with the marching sound that serves as the percussion before the drums come in, electric guitar riffs are next to be added, then the bass guitar comes in underneath the riffs, and finally there’s a plucking effect that gives it an oriental flavor. Most importantly, all the elements blend together organically, and while nothing much else is added, it never stagnates at any point. Rather, it only builds and gets even more epic sounding as it moves along, making “Wanli” a release that was sure to be amazing no matter what the vocals brought to the table.
Fortunately, Ohhyuk also brought it, providing a haunting vocal performance (in Chinese!) in the verses that built along with the track, peaking with an “AY! AY! AY! AY!” before the chorus hits. The chorus itself sounds like chanting, which fits perfectly with the mood of the instrumental. While personal experience led me to think it was a reference to Buddhist monks, given that it was filmed in Mongolia, the deep, guttural nature of the chant made me think of a potential reference to Mongolian throat singing. As the cherry on top, there’s an extended instrumental section that follows over the chanting, which basically has them shredding through your headphones, and if you don’t fall in love with “Wanli” after that, there’s no hope for you.
Oh yeah, speaking of filming in Mongolia, the music video was absolutely gorgeous.
The scenery was obviously amazing and it really added to the echoing chants of the chorus and the epic nature of the track, but I also enjoyed the direction. In particular, the moving shots of Hyukoh hurdling down a road on the back of a truck in the middle of nowhere…
…and the zoom on the band as horses crossed.
It truly captured the atmosphere of the song and was a perfect companion piece.
In conclusion, “Wanli” is amazing and the most I’ve enjoyed a release in 2017. Everything about it works individually and it works together even better, melding to create an ideal experience.
This is my shit, basically.