Album Review: The Hsu-Nami – “Hsu-Nami

Album Cover Hsu Nami
Band: The Hsu-nami
Album: Hsu-Nami
By: M. Loop

Exotic, unique and passionate, The Hsu-Nami blend prog rock instrumentation and compositions with the ErHu, a traditional two string Chinese violin. What I notice in the timbre of the ErHu versus the classical violin sound is a unique slide tone perhaps caused by the distance of the strings to the neck, forcing a more visceral connection of the fingers to the instrument. Also, the bow sound hitting the strings is more pronounced which I personally love. It is a very emotional instrument and a wonderful lead instrument for progressive rock.

That being said, Jack Hsu is a wonderful proponent of the instrument. Tremendous technique combined with a warrior soul. He propels each composition at its heart and soul. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Jack Hsu moved to New Jersey when he was 12 years old, and soon became an American citizen. When you think about the DNA Mr. Hsu has running through his veins, Taiwan, New Jersey and immersion in the British discipline of progressive rock, how could his music be anything but unique?

Compositionally, I hear strains of Jethro Tull, The Paul Winter Consort, Oregon, Jean Luc Ponty, traditional western classical music and what my uneducated ear assumes are traditional Chinese melodies. Occasionally I hear what could be an Irish sea shanty mixed in as well.

Brent Bergholm on guitar, Derril Sellers on bass, John Manna on drums and Dana Goldberg on keyboards all play very proficiently and beautifully. They are a tight outfit who support the elaborate compositions on Hsu-Nami with confident grace.

The Hsu-nami is unique. East meets West, taking some of the best of both cultures to create something vital. Highly recommended.

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