Winter Endless, as befits one of the stalwarts of the Taiwanese indie music scene, from which they emerged in 2001, is going to be unlike anything else you have heard this year.
The presentation is fabulous: three individual CDs (Winter Endless, Ode to Winter and Live in Nalep) are accompanied in a box with a no expense spared 28 page booklet.
The 12 compositions on CD 1, opening with Violently Sad and Beautiful and closing with Must Keep Singing, are repeated on Disc 3, a Blue Ray DVD. Segueing both, and for me the highlight, is CD 2 (Yu Chi Kung – piano concerto), in which Ode to Winter is made up of seven compositions, and the pediment of Cold Star, Weird Cat and Four Seasons rests comfortably on the columns of Allegro Moderato, Adagio, Allegro con anima and Allegro con brio – Allegro Maestoso.
Sodagreen intend to make four albums representing the four seasons, recorded in four cities and with four different musical styles. Winter Endless was labelled The Vivaldi project and was recorded in Berlin.
Before turning to Ode To Winter, which is beautiful, and mostly un-Sodagreen like, you have to luxuriate in the non-classical, almost garage band like Violently Bad and Beautiful Set, whose titles wouldn’t be out of place as chapters in a Fuminori Nakamura novel: My Accusation of a Crazy Killer, The Dream of Going Back to Chernobyl, etc.
Violently Sad and Beautiful is a summation of all that is great about Sodagreen: pop meets classical, confident bass and percussion and a voice with the revolutions of a delirious swallow at the end of its odyssey. Anybody remember Poi Dog Pondering’s Natural Thing. That same fluidity across the disciplines.
Apparently, the classical Ode To Winter is inspired by the Violently Sad and Beautiful songs, but I didn’t easily make the connection. Instead, the mellifluous sorrowfulness and bursts of gaiety of Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons, with nods to Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus and Era, permeate what is still compelling listening: a piano concerto for our age, and not another’s.