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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Obiwan and Zenkwun: A Man and His Dream - A Music Review

Michael C.M. Liu

     Established in 2006, Zenkwun (神棍樂團) is an indie rock band that has won many awards and released two records; it has seemed for a long time that fame and fortune were just around the corner, but Zenkwun hasn’t acquired vast popularity, at least not outside the underground music world. I don’t really care about making big money. The most important thing is to produce music the way we want,said Obiwan (陳正航), the lead singer of Zenkwun and my former college classmate.

From Zenkwun official website
     Zenkwun’s first album, “Atheism (萬佛朝宗)” was released in December, 2009. As it uses traditional Chinese musical instruments such as suona, erhu, pipa, and Chinese percussion instruments as well as western bass, piano, and electric guitar, their music is as unique as the album cover, which features the bagua (八卦), the eight trigrams representing the fundamental principles in Taoist cosmology.

     There are ten tracks in this album, with lyrics and melody all composed by Obiwan. The genres of these songs range from rock, traditional, religious, to even rap and Hakka. The title track, “Atheism,” tells the story of a monk who has difficulty resisting the lure of the secular world and struggles between various religions and eventually becomes an atheist. In addition to its thought-provoking lyrics, the musical arrangement artfully combines Eastern and Western instruments.  The band’s performance exudes the ambiance of a Taiwan temple fair.  See for yourself by watching the YouTube video, below.

Official video from YouTube

     Back in college, Obiwan was a brilliant student (if my memory serves me), but his grades weren’t excellent.  Nevertheless, he went on to graduate school at National Tsing Hua University, one of the most prestigious colleges in Taiwan. He didn’t finish his master program, though; I suppose he just had to leave to pursue his dream before it was too late. I sincerely hope that he gets to be famous and rich in the near future, because he really is a role model for me and for others who are too afraid to chase their dreams. If you haven’t found your true passion, keep looking! If you HAVE found it but haven’t really done anything about it yet, listen to Obiwan’s music; you will be inspired!

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